Nestled in the hills and along the rivers of Western Massachusetts you’ll find creative craft beverage producers offering small batch liquid art using the freshest local ingredients. Make an afternoon of drinking at the source. Meet the producers at some of our favorite cozy Franklin County tasting rooms and see how your libations are made. Roll the windows down and take a slow ride through landscape that yields what may become your next favorite drink.
Artisan Beverage Cooperative
Tasting room hours: Friday 4-7 pm, Saturday 2-6 pm
ArtBev is a worker owned company in Greenfield formed by producers of Katalyst Kombucha and Green River Ambrosia. They offer Kombucha, a naturally fermented beverage made from a mother culture and sweetened tea, resulting in a fizzy, slightly sweet and tart drink with supposed health benefits to boot; Ginger Libation, an effervescent, pre-prohibition style ginger beer with a pleasant sweetness and distinctive ginger zing; and mead, an ancient beverage, sometimes called honey-wine.
Their traditional tasting room offers tasting flights, as well as bottle and growler fills to go. It is the one place you can try ALL of their meads, including special brewer trials and blends. They typically have a few experimental Kombucha and Ginger Libations on tap as well.
With a mission to promote environmental stewardship, democratic governance, sustainable agriculture, and building a strong local economy, what’s not to love?
Tasting room by appointment
Over 2,000 apple trees cover this beautiful 20 acre orchard at the headwaters of Clesson Brook in the scenic western hilltown of Hawley. The drive out there is as spectacular as Headwater’s award winning New England style cider. Crisp, clean, and dry, New England style cider is described as the only cider originating in the United States.
While visits are by appointment only, cider maker Peter Mitchell is always happy to welcome visitors. Expect a personal tour of the orchard’s classic trees and learn about his trial grafting of new varieties. And of course, sample his fine ciders over lively conversation about the fermentation process and whatever else is on Peter’s mind!
Note, cell service is extremely limited in Hawley, so make sure you download any info you’ll need before heading out there!
Berkshire Brewing Company
Tours and tastings at 1pm on Saturdays
Berkshire Brewing Company
BBC is a premier New England craft brewery offering ales and lagers fresh in small batches. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, and never containing chemical additives or preservatives, they offer creative year-round, seasonal, and special brews.
Once a week, on Saturdays at 1pm, you can take a tour of the facility and have a tasting of classics like their Drayman’s Porter, a well-balanced and full-bodied dark ruby-brown ale that’s slightly sweet with notes of chocolate malt and mocha married to a delicate hop bitterness and flavor. Or check out the seasonal Farmstand Raspberry Barleywine Style Ale, which takes on its ruby hued appearance from the generous use of half a pound of fresh raspberries per gallon, from a local farm only a few miles from the brewery. Luscious malts and a balanced hop bitterness support the rich, sweet, tart character of the fruit. It’s described as dangerously drinkable, challenging the notion of what a “fruit beer” can be.
West County Cider
Spring tasting room hours: Saturday & Sunday 11am -5pm.
If you like cider, you won’t want to miss this stop! And if you think you don’t like cider, you will after this visit. The craft cider movement began right here with the Maloney family’s West County Cider. They applied their California winemaking techniques to the New England style of apple fermenting to create some of the finest ciders available. The Maloneys started making cider commercially in 1984 and became one of the first small artisanal cider producers in the US. In recent years that number has skyrocketed, from around a dozen or so producers to hundreds of companies, as the Cider Renaissance flourished and as people rediscovered a taste for this traditional American beverage.
Prized for creative and complex ciders, their offerings range from very dry to sweet. Some have a champagne-like flavor, while others are more robust, with tannins from traditional American and European cider apples. Come get a taste of West County in their new tasting room in Shelburne on a property with one of the most beautiful expansive views in New England. Plus you’ll get to meet the fascinating Field Maloney and learn more about the history of this significant cider company. Read more about West County Cider and the birth of the craft cider movement here.
Tasting room hours: Tuesday & Wednesday, 11am – 5pm; Thursday, 11 am – 6pm;
Friday & Saturday, 11am – 9pm
105 Main Street, Northfield, MA, (413) 225-3247
A new addition to the Franklin County beverage scene is Cameron’s Winery. Leslie and Paul Cameron have eight families of wine: Grape, Citrus, Pitted Fruit, Berry, Honey, Maple, Vegetable, and Cider. There is always something new to enjoy as they make and bottle wine all year. Stop by for a glass or a tasting and stay for a bite off the light fare menu that changes every three days to pair with new wines and ciders. With typically between three and six items to choose from, they are open for food Tuesdays through Sundays with special wine and cider dinners on the third Friday night of every month. Be sure to call beforehand as sometimes they are on a farm run!
While you are in the area, pick up other great local beverages to go at Ryan & Casey; Cold River Café, Package, and Market; and River Liquors & The Wine Rack . Some brands include Lefty’s, Elements, Brick and Feather, Honest Weight, Hitchcock, Stone Man among others.
Save the Date: Franklin County CiderDays November 2-4, 2018.
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Franklin County views worth the visit