With more and more breweries offering beer gardens, patios, and decks, this year’s edition of Massachusetts Breweries With Awesome Outdoor Drinking Spots was bigger and better than ever. In a 5-part regional series of blogs that were posted during the last two weeks, we listed nearly 80 open air drinking options throughout the state. While we don’t normally play favorites, in this case we thought we owed it to our readers, especially those heading out on vacations or still working on their craft beer bucket lists. So here are 20 breweries who offer al fresco drinking that we think are worth planning an afternoon, evening, or even a day trip around.
The recently renovated Fort Hill Brewery is a must-visit for fans of classic German-style brews, although many swear by their IPAs as well. Recent improvements to their gorgeous space includes a second taproom as well as a spacious beer garden out back. The walled-in patio features circular tables, umbrellas to keep you and your beer from overheating, and is dog friendly. It’s also right off the Norwottock Rail Trail, which connects six area breweries if you’re on bike.
If you’re looking for a farm brewery feel, then try Westfield River Brewing. Located in Southwick, “it’s situated on beautiful farm land, offers great in-house barbecue, and has live music on weekends,” reports Eric Tracy, a regular there throughout the outdoor drinking season. “The beer garden is open for the summer with a wide variety of tasty brews, it’s just a great vibe.”
If your idea of a gorgeous view is a late-night downtown bar scene, check out the Northampton Brewery, which 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 while scoping out your prospects. And unlike other breweries, they’re open until 1:00 A.M. seven days a week.
If you’re looking for the Massachusetts version of craft beer nirvana then head to Charlton, where highly acclaimed Tree House Brewing is situated on 70 acres of pristine woodlands that feature everything an outdoor-loving craft beer drinker could ask for. In addition to a large outdoor pavilion where you can enjoy full pours of their amazing brews, they’ve carved out three miles of hiking/biking trails, are planting an orchard of fruit trees, will start curating bee hives, and will grow hops on five acres of open field.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more picturesque scene than Stone Cow’s farm brewery in Barre, especially on one of the many days when they enjoy a rainbow. 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 one of their tasty brews and some live music, it’s an outing you’ll want to share with some of your favorite craft beer friends.
Lookout Farm Brewing in Natick has been treating cider drinkers to great brews and amazing views for years, now craft beer lovers can get in on the action. A working farm where you can pick your own fruit, and that now offers craft beer to go along with its well-known ciders, they recently opened a Barnside Pub and field patio to go along with their already existing taproom.
Craft beer drinkers have long been familiar with Notch Brewing, the first in the U.S. to focus exclusively on session beers (typically no more than 4.5% ABV), but have you enjoyed one of their refreshing brews while kicking back at their brewery biergarten in Salem? If not, what are you waiting for? Something more scenic you say, then check out one of their Mobile Biergartens this summer, including pop-ups at Appleton Farms in Hamilton July 13 & 14 and the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton July 21 & 21.
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.
Another option in the Northeast is 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 Berliner Weiss, Solar Plexus IPA, or Maize-A-Faire Corn Lager. A great spot for late night drinks, they’re open Tuesday – Saturday until 1:00.
The original Cape & Islands brewery, Cisco Brewers is still THE place to be for afternoon drinks on Nantucket. And it’s not just for beer geeks: along with the brewery you’ll find both a winery and a distillery that also have their own tasting rooms. Located just 15 minutes from down town, thirsty visitors can bike over to the grounds or take the free shuttle. Once there, plan to stay a while. Along with a variety of drinks and open air seating, they offer tours, host live music, entice you with a raw bar, and have a variety of resident food trucks.
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. Open seasonally, seven days a week from noon to 9:00, you can Get Bad between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Another new beer garden on the Cape is that of former contract brand Naukabout, who earlier this year opened a brewery of its own in Mashpee. Located on an iconic property with views of both Lake Wakeby and the Mashpee River, it’s the perfect spot for what the co-founders’ father described as “nauking about,” or doing the thing you love to do after a hard day’s work. Having a few tasty brews while relaxing in a scenic Cape Cod beer garden sounds about right.
A great option if you’re on the Lower Cape is Hog Island Beer, adored by locals. Billed as the Cape’s outermost brewery, you can park yourself in one of their comfy cape chairs out in the beer garden and enjoy a few brews before having dinner at their sister restaurant, Jailhouse Tavern. They also host live entertainment 7 days a week during the summer.
There’s plenty of off-Cape action in the Southeast as well, just ask craft beer drinkers in the SouthCoast area who’ve been flocking to one of the region’s oldest breweries, 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. Fire pits warm you up on cool evenings, and on damp ones a large tent keeps the rain off your head, so there’s literally no raining on this craft beer parade.
If you’re in or around Greater Boston this summer, plan to spend an afternoon at either of Trillium’s outdoor drinking spots. In Boston proper, head to their beer garden on the Greenway, which offers an urban oasis for both Financial District workers and tourists alike. Don’t do crowds? Then head to the new outdoor space at their Canton brewery. In addition to the highly heralded tap list they’re known for, they now have a spacious, covered terrace where you can relax and savor your favorites. It’s family and dog friendly, has plenty of standing room for drinking, as even offers communal seating.
There may soon be two more seasonal pop-up beer gardens, both with sunset views over the Charles River, joining in the fun this summer. Earlier this week we learned that the Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) has selected Night Shift to be the operator of beer gardens on the Esplanade and at Herter Park in Brighton. An official announcement with more details is expected soon.
Somerville’s newest outdoor beer garden is that of Remnant Brewing, which opened in Union Square just last month. The centerpiece of the new Bow Market, a former storage building that now houses some 30 food, art, and retail vendors, the roomy open air space is ideal for patio beers. You can even grab a bite from one of the regular pop-ups. The marketplace & brewery are open 7 days a week.
If you’r looking for “cool beer and crazy people, or vice versa,” then Cambridge Brewing Company is the place for you. Well known for their amazing beer and raucus festivals celebrating sour, barleywine, or pumpkin beers, they also have 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). Dogs and their thirsty owners can always enjoy the patio together.
An argument can be made for Malden’s Idle Hands as the outdoor drinking gem of the just-north-of-Boston neighborhood. Only a short walk from the Orange Line’s Malden Center T stop, they welcome leashed and well-behaved dogs on their spatious patio, and are open for sunset beers every night but Sunday.
* Photos courtesy of Fort Hill, Westfield River, Northampton Brewery, Tree House, Stone Cow, Lookout Farm, Notch, Cape Ann Brewing, The Tap, Cisco, Buzzards Bay, Bad Martha, Hog Island, Naukabout, Trillium, Remnant, Cambridge Brewing, and Idle Hands Facebook pages.