Summer is in full swing and the craft beer is flowing, it doesn’t get much better than that. The best way to enjoy both, in our humble opinion, is to pass up the beer store (the summer variety pack has fallen out of favor with most brewers anyway) and head straight to your local brewery, who probably has a refreshing Berliner Weiss or Kolsch waiting for you out on the deck, patio or courtyard. It’s an offer you shouldn’t refuse, especially since we’ve counted more than 50 breweries within the Commonwealth where you can pull up a comfy chair, and on the right day, enjoy a cold brew in the warm breeze.
Mountains, Farms, Western Mass. Has it All
A right of passage for any serious Western Mass. craft beer drinker, the Northampton Brewery has been wowing thirsty visitors with its spacious roof deck longer than most of the state’s breweries have been making beer. Multiple levels and a variety of seating allow you to sit back and enjoy a deckbier, or to sit down and enjoy lunch or dinner from the brewpub’s full menu. A great spot for late night summer beers, they’re open until 1:00 AM seven days a week.
If the region’s most popular outdoor drinking spot gets too crowded then just walk down the street and around the corner to Brew Practitioners, whose comfy patio is open every day accept Monday. Enjoy $5 pints of their six classics on Fridays all summer long.
Another way to welcome the weekend is the monthly Food Truck Fridays hosted by Abandoned Building Brewery in nearby Easthampton. The pop up beer garden is dog friendly, and usually features a special release or two, half a dozen food options, and live music. Check their Facebook page for details. While you’re there check out New City Brewery right next door. Their patio is open everyday serving up the brewery’s unique flagship offering, an alcoholic Jamaican-style ginger beer, perfect for the warm weather. Also in Easthampton is Fort Hill Brewery, a must visit for fans of classic German style brews. Currently the taproom is closed for a major expansion, but plan to visit them in the fall when they debut a second taproom as well as a beer garden out back. Their porch seating with views of Mount Tom will still be there, too.
In the meantime, If you’re looking for a farm brewery with gorgeous views try Westfield River Brewing, which is actually located in Southwick. “It’s located on beautiful farm land, offers great barbecue, and has live music on weekends,” reports Eric Tracy, a regular there throughout the summer. “The beer garden is open for the summer with a wide variety of tasty brews, it’s just a great vibe.”
For another great vibe head out to the Berkshires where the solar powered Barrington Brewery, a family-friendly brewpub with a spacious patio, has been offering up tasty barn brewed beer for 22 years. From there, head north to find one of the state’s farthest craft beer outposts, Bright Ideas Brewing in North Adams. Located on the campus of MASS MoCA, one of the world’s liveliest centers for contemporary evocative art, they pride themselves on “accessible, affable, quaffable brews” that you can enjoy on their sidewalk patio.
Some other options are the picnic area at Big Elm Brewing in Sheffield, the Thursday night pop-up beer garden at Brewmaster’s Brewing Services in Williamsburg, White Lion Wednesdays, a summer beer garden series in downtown Springfield, and the new beer garden at Element Brewing and distillery in Millers Falls.
A Plethora of Options in Central Mass.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more picturesque scene than Stone Cow’s farm brewery in Barre. Their sustainably brewed pints and gorgeous views are enjoyable any time of year, but a summer trip for their famous Field-to-Flame BBQ is to die for. Prepared on an outdoor wood-fired grille, and accompanied by live music, it’s an outing you’ll want to share with some of your favorite craft beer friends.
Not too far away you’ll find the Gardner Ale House. They recently started distributing their beer under the name Moon Hill Brewing, but head right to the source to enjoy some of their tasty food on the outdoor deck. They also throw one of the best Oktoberfest parties anywhere, this year it’s on the last Saturday in September.
If you’re still not convinced that a trip to Northern Worcester County is worth it, consider that Wachusett Brewing’s new Brew Yard opens this weekend. Featuring a 1968 Airstream Trailer converted into a one-of-a-kind outdoor bar, as well as a huge copper kettle fire pit, it promises to be a unique experience.
Another unique experience can be had at Rapscallion Brewery in Sturbridge, located at Hyland Orchard, where you can work up a thirst on the 18-hole disc golf course right beside the brewery. Afterward, tip a few pints while noshing on a sandwich from their resident food truck, or head to their Table and Tap restaurant in Acton which also serves their beers and has an outdoor patio.
Speaking of patios, one that should appeal to both wine and beer drinkers alike is at Nashoba Valley Winery, which also shares its panoramic hilltop view with Bolton Beer Works. A new brewing team, headed by Jeff Matthew, oversaw a brewery expansion in 2015 and has introduced some more adventurous recipes. Consider planning your trip on the third weekend of the month when they hold their brewery open house.
A good option anytime is Krestchmann Brewery’s bustling 1,600-square foot beer garden in downtown Webster next to the river walk. Sit and chat by the fire pit, play some corn hole, enjoy the live entertainment or attend “The Beer Show” while sipping one of a dozen brews on tap. They don’t serve food, but you can bring your own.
To check out the Bay State’s newest outdoor hot spot head to Charlton, where highly acclaimed Tree House Brewing recently debuted its new facility. Situated on a pristine 70 acres of woodlands, they feature a large outdoor pavilion where, unlike their Monson brewery (which is now closed), you can enjoy full pours of their amazing brews. To avoid the massive crowds that are sure to flock there this summer, wait a couple of months and hit them up in the fall when the fire pits will be roaring.
If you’re looking for an urban oasis in Worcester then head to Wormtown Brewery, where it’s even easier to not worry and be hoppy once the warm weather arrives and they open their comfy, spacious patio. Sunshine, couches, great beer, what’s not to love? Knock back a few Blonde Cougars with friends, nosh on a Wicked Twisted soft pretzel, or grab take out from one of the surrounding restaurants. Travel east along Route 9 and you’ll find Cold Harbor Brewing in Westborough, who recently debuted a new outdoor space they call the beer barn. Pull up a seat, grab some grub from a food truck, and choose from the impressive array of brews they usually have on tap. As for the rest of the Metro West area, anyone looking for outdoor seating should head to Framingham, where you can choose from either Jack’s Abby, John Harvard’s, or Framingham Beer Works.
Beaches and Beer Gardens in the Northeast
North Shore craft beer drinkers have long enjoyed their Fisherman’s Brew from Cape Ann Brewery’s spectacular deck overlooking Gloucester’s working waterfront. This summer, it’s your turn. With an outdoor bar and ample seating, you’ll have a drink in no time. Then you can relax as you watch a Schooner sail into the sunset, or see a fishing boat unloading its catch. Bring your appetite and enjoy the brewpub’s extensive menu, loaded with fresh, local seafood. Open Sunday through Wednesday until 11:00, Thursday to Saturday ’til midnight.
Head north along the coastline and you’ll soon arrive at the Ipswich Ale Brewer’s Table, the taproom for the North Shore’s largest and oldest beer maker, Mercury Brewing. On their patio, which opened last summer, you can bask in the sun, or under the stars, and treat yourself to some of the region’s famous clams or other seafood while washing it down with their recently released New England IPA. Later this summer you’ll also be able to grab a table on another patio in Ipswich, that of newcomer True North Ales, who hopes to pour their first beer by August. Stay tuned to their Facebook page to keep up with their progress.
Not far from some of the North Shore’s best beaches, Newburyport Brewing’s taproom has long been a popular spot for parched sun bathers. Grab a Maritime Lager, their newest offering which launches this week, and head to the beer garden to relax with some live music, Their family-friendly Annual Reggae Fest is Saturday, July 22nd. Before the summer’s out, another outdoor option should be added to the mix when neighboring RiverWalk Brewing opens its new brewery and 2,000-square foot beer garden. Check their Facebook page for updates.
Landlocked craft beer drinkers have plenty of options in the Northeast as well, including The Tap in downtown Haverhill. Summertime at the brewpub is when the real fun starts: locals and traveling beer geeks flock to their huge deck overlooking the Merrimack River to enjoy the view and hoist summer favorites like Intergalactic Acid, Solar Plexus, or Invisible Creatures, their recently released New England Pale Ale. A great spot for late night drinks, they’re open Tuesday to Saturday until 1:00.
The newest addition to the region, Oak & Iron Brewing in Andover, is another solid option for an evening of patio beers. In June, they opened a dog-friendly beer garden alongside their renovated mill building brewery on the banks of the Shawsheen River. If you haven’t checked out this “small but mighty” brewery yet, this summer’s the perfect chance.
Another inland option is Navigation Brewing in Lowell. Their courtyard features a hop vine climbing the old mill walls, picnic tables, food trucks and live music. If you want to check out Lowell’s thriving art scene, plan your trip on the first Thursday of the month when the city celebrates Alive After Five. If you’re looking for a bite and a brew from Sunday through Wednesday head over to the Lowell Beer Works patio, their Watermelon Ale is pouring all summer.
Craft beer drinkers have long been familiar with Notch Brewing, the first brewery in the U.S. to focus exclusively on session beers (usually no more than 4.5% ABV), but have you enjoyed one of their refreshing brews while kicking back in the brewery’s European style biergarten? If not, what are you waiting for? “Having outdoor space was one of our highest priorities,” old school brewer Chris Lohring explained about the location in downtown Salem, “having it along the river is just a bonus.” They’re open until 11:00 everyday accept Sunday, when they close at 10:00.
Find Your Urban Oasis in Metro Boston
Well known for their amazing beer and raucus festivals celebrating sour, barleywine, or pumpkin beers, Cambridge Brewing Company also has an extensive patio nestled in the heart of Kendall Square. Sample some unique brews, enjoy dinner, or just people watch (it is Cambridge after all). Regulars can work toward their #CBCBeerYear or go for dollar oysters on Tuesdays, and dogs and their thirsty owners can always enjoy the patio together. They’re open until 10:00 Sunday to Thursday, 11:00 on Friday and Saturday, serve lunch everyday, and offer brunch on the weekends.
Other well known patio options in and around the city include Everett’s Night Shift, whose summer calendar of events has something for everyone, Somerville’s Slumbrew and its American Fresh beer garden at Assembly Row, and the Canal Street Boston Beer Works, more serene during the summer months. And lest we forget Boston’s original brewery, Harpoon, which recently debuted a new keg yard that’s open on weekends.
Several other outdoor options have sprung up in the last year or so, including patios at Dorchester Brewing Company, whose one-year anniversary bash is July 22nd, Winter Hill Brewing in Somerville, and Bone Up Beer in Everett. The newly opened Turtle Swamp Brewing in Jamaica Plain has a nice outdoor seating area out back, and Malden’s Idle Hands will also be part of the mix when they open a patio later this month. Aeronaut’s pop-up beer garden in Allston, complete with food trucks, live music, and plenty of fresh beer, is also back for the summer.
The icing on the cake (there’s a new beer flavor for you), of course, is Trillium’s new Beer Garden on the Greenway. Located on a spacious patio across from the Rowe’s Wharf Arch on Atlantic Ave., there’s room for 250 people to stand or sit and sip brews from the draft trailer or partake of the food truck on hand. A partnership with the nonprofit Greenway Conservancy, Boston’s “ribbon of contemporary parks,” the beer garden is open Wednesday through Sunday until the end of October.
Island Beers and More in the Southeast
The first brewery to open on the Cape & Islands, Cisco Brewers is quite simply THE place to be for afternoon drinks on Nantucket. And it’s not just for beer geeks: along with the brewery you’ll find a winery and distillery. Located just 15 minutes from down town, thirsty visitors frequently bike over or take the free shuttle. Once there, plan to stay a while. As well as drinks and open air seating they offer tours, host live music, entice you with a raw bar, and have a variety of food trucks. If there’s one shortcoming, it’s that they close too early, usually by 7:00.
Modeled after a Napa Valley winery tasting room, Bad Martha’s Farm Brewery captures the essence of island life, but with much better beer. In addition to a dozen or so brews, they also serve cheese plates and charcuterie boards, as well as other snacks. Outdoor games and live music on weekends adds to what they describe as a “chill brewery vibe.” It’s in Edgartown, so you’ll need transportation if you’re taking the ferry over for a day trip. You can Get Bad from noon to 9:00 through Labor Day. If you’re looking for lunch or dinner, head to Oak Bluffs where brewpub Offshore Ale Co., the island’s original brewer, will accommodate you on their cozy, shaded patio. Try the Hop Goddess, a hoppy ale first brewed by Matt Steinberg (now at Exhibit ‘A’ in Framingham) over a decade ago.
If you’re heading over the bridge this summer, but won’t make it out to the islands be sure to check out Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis. Work on your tan in their beer garden and enjoy a pour from the beer trailer as you listen to a local musician and snack on one of their Cape Cod Dawgs. From July 25th until its gone, you can indulge in their Christmas in July, a special release of an oak aged version of their Old Man Winter. Grab a bottle to go and find a nice sea breeze – better than air conditioning. Another great option, especially if you’re on the Lower Cape, is Hog Island Beer, a brewery, restaurant, and beer garden in Orleans. Park yourself in one of their comfy cape chairs for live entertainment 7 days a week, or stop in to grab a Big Hog Can (most breweries call it a crowler) to take to Nauset beach.
There’s plenty of off-Cape action in the Southeast as well, just ask craft beer drinkers from Fall River to New Bedford, who’ve been flocking to the region’s oldest brewery, Buzzard’s Bay Brewing, for years. Nestled between Horseneck Beach and a 150-acre working farm in Westport, their sizable outdoor space has corn hole, picnic tables, raw bar, food trucks, and live music. A large tent keeps the rain off your head and fire pits warm you up on cool evenings, so there’s literally no raining on this craft beer parade.
If you’re closer to the South Shore, Independent Fermentations in Plymouth has a picnic table space and offer’s Tom’s Wood Fired Pizzas on weekends. The space opens up when they host larger events, like the Gravel Grinder Bike Ride this Sunday, which starts and finishes at the brewery.
In nearby Bridgewater, Black Hat Brew Works has more beer flowing this summer for its growing legions of followers, thanks to a recent expansion that included the buildout of a patio with lots of comfortable seating (even rocking chairs). They even expanded their business hours, and are now open four days a week. Cruise up Route 18 to another newish brewery, Barrel House Z in Weymouth, and you’ll find another solid option for open-air brews. Maybe barrel-aged beer doesn’t scream summer, but you can go for the Gose, try a Jamaican Shandy, or go all in with an Easy Breezy (a blood orange witbier mixed with with lemonade). Order some food, pull up an Adirondack chair, and watch some competitive corn hole. Now that’s summer.
If you know of another brewery with outdoor drinking space, let us know, we’re always up for another round. Cheers.