Massachusetts has quickly become a beer lovers paradise with more than 125 breweries currently open and more on the way. Western Massachusetts specifically has become home to some of the top breweries in the state despite, according to many Bostonians, being in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. The relatively rural and quiet region of Western Mass has no shortage of wonderful craft breweries and was recently named a Top 11 Beer Destination by Thrillist Magazine. You won’t find many breweries from the area distributing beyond state lines, and many are located in old abandoned warehouses, mill buildings, or even farms. With cooler fall weather finally here and the leaves starting to turn, does someone need a better excuse to visit a picturesque farm that just so happens to be the home of a brewery?
Recently I drove out to Stone Cow Brewery out in Barre, MA near the Quabbin reservoir (which required the moving of four towns to build and is a working dairy farm with a BBQ joint on the weekends and frequent live music). Upon arriving you find a multi-building site, large open pastures, and a brand new brewery that specializes in utilizing local ingredients as much as possible. I’ve seen an increasing number of brewers using locally roasted malts and hops, and I’m excited by this growing trend. It’s also exciting to see brewers working to keep everything as local as possible. This brewery site is absolutely beautiful and features a very large patio out back where you can even spot hops being grown. After grabbing a beer or while you wait for your food, you can tour the farm and see the cows, chickens, pigs and even this goat.
Now, onto the beer! I had a perfect day for being outside, hot and sunny all day, perfect patio weather to compliment the variety of beer offered which was well-balanced and wide-ranging. I sampled several brews, including the Cows Out Milk Stout which was smooth, easy drinking with hints of chocolate. I’ve also been excited to see farmhouse ales making a comeback, and greatly enjoyed Stone Cow’s Farmhouse Ale. Like many Saison style Farmhouse ales, Stone Cow’s is on the light side with only 3.9% ABV and lower bitterness, but it’s still packed quite a bit of flavor. All this along with a wild ale, and a couple IPAs can be had among farm scenery.
While this brewery is definitely a bit off the beaten path, it is well worth the trip. Western MA has many hidden gems, and Stone Cow Brewery is one that absolutely justifies the drive time. While you’re in the area, make sure to check out the many other breweries that have contributed to the rise of craft beer in Massachusetts. Part of what makes craft beer exciting is the adventures that it brings with travel and friends, and Stone Cow Brewery is certainly an adventure in itself and worthy of an afternoon shared with friends or getting out in the world and making a couple new brew buddies.
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