Looking for something to do while you try to stay out of the cold? Many area breweries offer tours. This is a great way to see how your beer is made and meet the people who make it happen. Here are a few of my favorite local tours. Cheers!
Gardner Ale House
74 Parker St., Gardner
Tours every Saturday at 1 p.m.
This is one of the few establishments in Massachusetts that not only brews its own beer but also serves it in a restaurant/club setting. Brunch, lunch and dinner menu options are diverse. Seriously – try the Chicken Lo Mein. While here, one of my favorites is Berlinner Weisse, a sour wheat beer originating in Germany. You can also order it with a shot of raspberry syrup to temper the sourness a little, an authentic offering in Germany.
175 State Road, E. Westminster
Tours hourly from noon-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday and hourly from noon-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday
This is an excellent tour if you want to see every single facet of the brewing process. The facility’s recent expansion increased capacity and automated much of the brewing process. You will see the bottling line, canning line and even the machine that assembles and glues the boxes. At the end, you can take home a fresh 32-ounce can of your choice of beer, which is canned right before your eyes. If you are not sure what to get, I always leave with can of fresh Larry, an IPA that I have previously given an excellent review.
Rapscallion Barrel and Tap
195 Arnold Road, Fiskdale
Tours at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Since this brewery is located at Hyland Orchards, take a deep breath as you get out of your car and take in the view. Rapscallion boasts clean country air and one of the best views at a brewery this side of Vermont. With an outdoor music venue and a popular disc golf course, you will want to visit again during the spring and summer. Try Rapscallion Honey while you’re there. It’s an extra pale ale infused with local wildflower honey.
30 Germania St., Boston
Tours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday
Within driving distance is one of the catalysts for the craft beer movement. This is one of the more structured tours out there, as it is geared towards tourists. Opt for a morning mash-in tour. These start at 9:30 a.m., and I recommend that you pre-order your ticket. What you will see is the brewery actually going through the brewing process. This includes a specialty beer-tasting that is not to be missed.
306 Northern Ave., Boston
Call ahead for tour times
This is another structured tour. Be sure to call ahead, as last year’s winter storms damaged the brewery, and construction is still under way. When the tour is finished, be sure to grab a pint in the Beer Hall, as well as a fresh pretzel.
By Kerry Cyganiewicz