Sunday, September 3, 2023

Sippin' and Savorin': Exploring New England's Best Breweries, Cideries and Beer Festivals in Retirement - 2023

Ah, retirement – a time to relax, reflect, and savor the finer things in life. For me, that means sippin' on a cold, crisp beer. And what better place to indulge in this pleasure than New England? Nestled in the northeastern corner of the United States, New England boasts a rich brewing tradition dating back centuries. From quaint little microbreweries to well-established craft beer giants, the region offers a vast tapestry of flavors and experiences. Join me on a journey through the picturesque landscapes of New England as we explore its breweries, one pint at a time.

The Historic Brews of Massachusetts

Massachusetts, the heart of New England, is where it all began. The state's beer history is as old as America itself. In Boston, you'll find the Samuel Adams Brewery, named after one of our Founding Fathers. Their iconic Boston Lager is a timeless classic. Meanwhile, in Worcester, Wormtown Brewery offers a taste of local culture with their Be Hoppy IPA. It's like a history lesson in every sip!

Here's a list of the best breweries in Massachusetts:

Tree House Brewing Company (Charlton): Known for their exceptional IPAs and stouts, Tree House is highly regarded in the craft beer community.

Trillium Brewing Company (Boston): Trillium is known for its innovative and high-quality beers, including a wide range of IPAs and barrel-aged offerings.

The Alchemist (Stowe): While the Alchemist is technically located in Vermont, it's not far from the Massachusetts border and is famous for its Heady Topper, a highly sought-after double IPA.

Night Shift Brewing (Everett): Night Shift offers a diverse range of beers, including IPAs, sours, and barrel-aged creations.

Jack's Abby Craft Lagers (Framingham): Jack's Abby specializes in lagers, and they have earned a strong reputation for their creative approach to traditional styles.

Samuel Adams (Boston): One of the most well-known craft breweries in the country, Samuel Adams offers a wide variety of beers, including their iconic Boston Lager.

Wormtown Brewery (Worcester): Wormtown is known for its commitment to using local ingredients and creating a diverse range of beer styles.

Mystic Brewery (Chelsea): Mystic focuses on brewing unique and experimental Belgian-style ales and other innovative beers.

Cambridge Brewing Company (Cambridge): CBC is known for its creative and experimental approach to brewing, with a diverse selection of beers on tap.

Castle Island Brewing Company (Norwood): Castle Island offers a range of IPAs, stouts, and other styles in a welcoming taproom setting.

Sippin' by the Sea in Maine

Maine is a place of rugged coastline, lighthouses, and, of course, some fantastic breweries. I spent a week exploring the Pine Tree State, and I couldn't resist stopping by Allagash Brewing Company in Portland. Their Belgian-style White Ale is a refreshing treat. And the coastal views from the tasting room? Breathtaking!

Here's a list of the best breweries in Maine:

Allagash Brewing Company (Portland): Known for their Belgian-style ales and innovative barrel-aged beers, Allagash is one of Maine's most renowned breweries.

Maine Beer Company (Freeport): This brewery is celebrated for its commitment to sustainability and consistently produces high-quality IPAs and other craft beers.

Bissell Brothers Brewing Company (Portland): Bissell Brothers is famous for its hop-forward beers, including popular IPAs like "Swish" and "The Substance."

Oxbow Brewing Company (Newcastle and Portland): Oxbow specializes in farmhouse ales and barrel-aged beers, offering a unique and diverse selection.

Foundation Brewing Company (Portland): Known for their diverse range of beer styles, Foundation offers a welcoming atmosphere and a great lineup of beers.

Banded Horn Brewing Company (Biddeford): This brewery is known for its well-crafted lagers and ales, including the popular "Veridian IPA."

Battery Steele Brewing (Portland): Battery Steele focuses on hoppy ales and innovative styles, with a reputation for quality and creativity.

Geaghan Brothers Brewing Company (Bangor): Geaghan Brothers is a family-owned brewery known for their wide variety of beers and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Austin Street Brewery (Portland): Austin Street is a small brewery known for its excellent hoppy ales and small-batch experiments.

Rising Tide Brewing Company (Portland): Rising Tide offers a diverse lineup of beers, including their flagship "Maine Island Trail Ale."

The Green Mountain State's Craft Beer Haven

Vermont might be small in size, but it's huge in the craft beer world. The state's rolling hills and lush landscapes make it the perfect backdrop for breweries like The Alchemist in Stowe, known for their Heady Topper, a legendary double IPA. And let's not forget about Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, often hailed as one of the best breweries in the world. Vermont's craft beer scene is a retiree's dream.

Here's a list of the best breweries in Vermont:

The Alchemist - Located in Stowe, The Alchemist is famous for its flagship beer, Heady Topper, often considered one of the best double IPAs in the world. Their brewery and visitor center are popular destinations for beer enthusiasts.

Hill Farmstead Brewery - Situated in Greensboro, Hill Farmstead consistently ranks among the top breweries in the world. They are known for their exceptional saisons, IPAs, and barrel-aged beers.

Lawson's Finest Liquids - Based in Waitsfield, Lawson's Finest Liquids is renowned for its Sip of Sunshine and Double Sunshine IPAs. They also produce a range of other hoppy and specialty beers.

Foam Brewers - Located in Burlington, Foam Brewers is known for its innovative and diverse range of beers, including IPAs, sours, and barrel-aged offerings. The brewery offers scenic views of Lake Champlain.

Fiddlehead Brewing Company - Found in Shelburne, Fiddlehead Brewing is famous for its flagship beer, Fiddlehead IPA. They offer a variety of other styles and have a popular taproom.

Switchback Brewing Company - Based in Burlington, Switchback is known for its signature Switchback Ale, an unfiltered amber ale. They have a strong focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly brewing practices.

Zero Gravity Craft Brewery - Also located in Burlington, Zero Gravity offers a mix of classic and experimental beers, including their Conehead IPA and Green State Lager. Their brewpub is a popular spot in the city.

Queen City Brewery - Another Burlington brewery, Queen City specializes in classic European-style lagers and ales. Their historic taproom adds to the charm of the brewery experience.

Long Trail Brewing Company - Located in Bridgewater Corners, Long Trail is one of Vermont's oldest craft breweries. They produce a wide range of beers, including their popular Long Trail Ale.

14th Star Brewing Company - Situated in St. Albans, 14th Star is a veteran-owned brewery known for its Valor Ale and Tribute Double IPA. They often support veterans' causes through their brewing.

Connecticut's Hidden Gems

Connecticut offers a more low-key but equally delightful experience for beer enthusiasts. New England Brewing Co. in Woodbridge is a local gem, serving up the famous Gandhi-Bot Double IPA. And Two Roads Brewing Co. in Stratford is a must-visit for their variety of brews and beautiful outdoor space. Connecticut's breweries may be lesser-known, but they're worth seeking out.

Here's a list of the best breweries in Connecticut:

Two Roads Brewing Company (Stratford): Two Roads is one of Connecticut's most well-known breweries, offering a wide range of craft beers in a spacious and inviting taproom.

New England Brewing Company (Woodbridge): Known for their highly-rated IPAs, NEBCo is a must-visit for hop enthusiasts.

Counterweight Brewing Co. (Hamden): Counterweight produces a variety of top-notch beers, with a focus on hoppy ales and stouts.

Fox Farm Brewery (Salem): Fox Farm is a hidden gem known for its farmhouse ales and saisons, set in a picturesque rural location.

Kent Falls Brewing Company (Kent): This brewery specializes in rustic and farmhouse-style beers, often using local ingredients.

Black Hog Brewing Co. (Oxford): Black Hog offers a diverse lineup of beers, including IPAs, stouts, and lagers.

Outer Light Brewing Company (Groton): Outer Light is known for its coastal-inspired beers and innovative brews.

Stony Creek Brewery (Branford): This brewery has a beautiful waterfront location and a wide range of beer styles.

Thimble Island Brewing Company (Branford): Thimble Island is known for its creative brews and scenic views of the Thimble Islands.

New Hampshire's Brews with a View

New Hampshire's rugged terrain and stunning vistas create a unique setting for craft breweries. Tuckerman Brewing Company in Conway provides a perfect example with their Tuckerman Pale Ale. It's the kind of beer you enjoy while taking in the White Mountains' grandeur. The Granite State's breweries are all about enjoying the great outdoors.

Here's a list of the best breweries in New Hampshire:

Smuttynose Brewing Company - Located in Hampton, Smuttynose is one of New Hampshire's most well-known breweries, offering a wide range of craft beers.

Stoneface Brewing Co. - This brewery in Newington is known for its high-quality, hop-forward beers and scenic taproom.

Portsmouth Brewery - A long-standing favorite in downtown Portsmouth, this brewery serves a variety of craft beers and delicious food.

Lithermans Limited Brewery - Situated in Concord, Lithermans Limited is known for its innovative and diverse beer selection.

Woodstock Inn Brewery - Located in North Woodstock, this brewery offers a cozy atmosphere and a range of craft beers, including some classic styles.

Great North Aleworks - In Manchester, Great North Aleworks is known for producing a wide range of beer styles with a focus on quality.

Earth Eagle Brewings - This brewery in Portsmouth is unique for its focus on historical and foraged ingredients, creating a distinctive beer lineup.

Deciduous Brewing Company - In Newmarket, Deciduous Brewing is known for its barrel-aged and sour beers, as well as its rotating selection of IPAs.

Henniker Brewing Company - Located in Henniker, this brewery offers a variety of craft beers in a picturesque setting.

Kettlehead Brewing Company - Situated in Tilton, Kettlehead is known for its innovative and experimental beer creations.

Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co. - Located in North Conway, Moat Mountain is known for its craft beers and delicious barbecue.

603 Brewery - Based in Londonderry, 603 Brewery produces a range of beers, including IPAs, stouts, and more.

Schilling Beer Co. - While technically located in Littleton, New Hampshire, Schilling is close to the Vermont border and is known for its European-inspired beers.

From the Barrel Brewing Company - Located in Londonderry, this brewery is known for its barrel-aged and sour beer offerings.

Rhode Island's Coastal Charms

Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it's big on flavor. Narragansett Brewing Company in Providence is a local legend, known for its classic lagers. They've been brewing since 1890, and that's a history I can raise a glass to. Coastal towns like Newport also offer charming brewpubs, making Rhode Island a delightful destination for beer-loving retirees.

Here's a list of the best breweries in Rhode Island:

Proclamation Ale Company (Warwick): Known for their innovative and experimental beers, Proclamation Ale Company consistently ranks among the top breweries in the state.

Long Live Beerworks (Providence): Long Live Beerworks offers a diverse selection of craft beers, including IPAs and stouts, and is known for its welcoming atmosphere.

Tilted Barn Brewery (Exeter): Tilted Barn is a popular destination for beer enthusiasts, known for its unique and flavorful farmhouse ales. Note that they often have limited hours and may require reservations.

Foolproof Brewing Company (Pawtucket): Foolproof offers a variety of beers, including their flagship Backyahd IPA, and often hosts events and tastings.

Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island (Westerly): Grey Sail is celebrated for its flagship Captain's Daughter Double IPA, as well as a range of other tasty brews.

Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. (Newport): Newport Craft Brewing not only produces great beer but also offers a selection of spirits. Their brewery and tasting room provide a scenic view of Newport Harbor.

Whalers Brewing Company (South Kingstown): Whalers is known for producing a range of approachable yet flavorful beers, including their popular Rise APA.

Revival Brewing Company (Cranston): Revival is known for its creative and diverse beer offerings, including unique seasonals and limited releases.

Buttonwoods Brewery (Cranston): Buttonwoods is a neighborhood brewery that focuses on producing a variety of traditional and experimental beer styles.

Ravenous Brewing Company (Cumberland): Ravenous Brewing offers a rotating selection of craft beers, with an emphasis on small-batch and innovative brews.

The Wildcard - New England Cideries

While New England is celebrated for its breweries, let's not forget the region's cideries. Vermont, in particular, is a cider haven. I found myself sipping on Woodchuck Hard Cider in Middlebury, enjoying the apple orchards and crisp autumn air. These cideries offer a different kind of delight, a sweet alternative for those who prefer fruit over hops.

Here's a list of the best cideries in New England:

Farnum Hill Ciders (Lebanon, New Hampshire) - Farnum Hill is renowned for its traditional, dry, and complex cider varieties. They focus on heirloom apple varieties and traditional cider-making methods.

Citizen Cider (Burlington, Vermont) - Known for their innovative and approachable ciders, Citizen Cider offers a range of flavors, from traditional to experimental.

B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill (Mystic, Connecticut) - One of the oldest and most historic cider mills in the United States, B.F. Clyde's has been producing cider for over a century. They also offer a variety of other apple-related products.

Snowdrift Cider Co. (East Wenatchee, Washington) - While not located in New England, Snowdrift Cider is known for producing high-quality ciders using traditional European apple varieties. Their ciders are widely available in the New England region.

Eden Specialty Ciders (Newport, Vermont) - Eden specializes in producing small-batch, high-quality ciders, ice ciders, and vermouth-style aperitifs using traditional and heirloom apple varieties.

Stormalong Cider (Sherborn, Massachusetts) - Stormalong is known for its well-crafted ciders, including their flagship "Legendary Dry," which is a crisp and refreshing option.

Shacksbury Cider (Vergennes, Vermont) - Shacksbury focuses on creating unique and interesting cider blends, often incorporating foraged apples and experimental techniques.

West County Cider (Colrain, Massachusetts) - West County Cider is committed to producing traditional, artisanal ciders using heirloom apple varieties and traditional methods.

North Country Hard Cider (Rollinsford, New Hampshire) - North Country produces a variety of ciders, including their well-known "Dry Cider" and "Farmhouse Cider."

Bantam Cider Company (Somerville, Massachusetts) - Bantam offers a range of flavorful and innovative ciders, including seasonal and limited-edition options.

A Taste of New England's Beer Festivals

Retirement isn't just about savoring beer; it's also about celebrating it. New England hosts some fantastic beer festivals throughout the year. The Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington and the Great International Beer Festival in Providence are two of my favorites. They're a great way to discover new breweries and meet fellow beer enthusiasts.

Here's a list of the best beer festivals in New England:

Vermont Brewers Festival (Burlington, VT): Held annually on the shores of Lake Champlain, this festival features a wide selection of Vermont's finest craft beers, including many from the world-renowned breweries in the state.

Great American Beer Festival (Boston, MA): While not exclusive to New England, this is one of the largest and most prestigious beer festivals in the United States. It typically features a diverse range of craft breweries from all over the country.

Maine Brewers' Guild Beer Festival (Portland, ME): This event celebrates Maine's flourishing craft beer scene, showcasing numerous local breweries and their unique offerings.

Harpoon Octoberfest (Windsor, VT, and Boston, MA): Harpoon Brewery hosts two different Octoberfest events in New England, featuring a variety of their beers and traditional German food, music, and activities.

Nantucket Brewfest (Nantucket, MA): Held on the picturesque island of Nantucket, this festival offers a delightful combination of craft beer tastings and the island's natural beauty.

Newport Craft Beer Festival (Newport, RI): This festival brings together regional and national craft breweries in the scenic coastal town of Newport, Rhode Island.

Connecticut Craft Beer Festivals (Various Locations): Connecticut hosts several beer festivals throughout the year, such as the Two Roads Road Jam Music Fest and the Rising Pint Brewfest, which feature local and regional breweries.

Portsmouth Beer Week (Portsmouth, NH): While not a traditional beer festival, Portsmouth Beer Week is a series of events, including tap takeovers, beer dinners, and special releases, that celebrate the craft beer culture in Portsmouth and the Seacoast area of New Hampshire.

Rhode Island Brew Fest (Providence, RI): This festival showcases a diverse range of craft breweries, including many from Rhode Island and the surrounding region.

Western Mass Beer Week (Western Massachusetts): Similar to Portsmouth Beer Week, this event is a week-long celebration of craft beer in Western Massachusetts, featuring various tastings and special events.

Raising a Glass to Retirement in New England

In retirement, there's no better way to embrace life's simple pleasures than by sipping on a cold, flavorful brew in the enchanting region of New England. Whether you're a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply a lover of good beer, this corner of the United States has something to offer everyone. So, my fellow retirees, let's raise our glasses and toast to the beauty of New England's breweries, where every sip is a celebration of the good life.

As I've found in my own retirement, exploring the breweries of New England is a journey filled with flavor, history, and camaraderie. Cheers to sippin' and savorin' the best of what this region has to offer!