DETOUR: Charlton, MA – Tree House Brewing Co.
"DETOURS" is a travel series by The Hop Review. Being a weary traveler almost always calls for a reward in the form of a pint at the end of the day. Here, we will document those beer breaks–as we travel the U.S. and beyond–with quips, photographs and Q&As. Cheers, to the adventurous beer trekker.
129 Sturbridge Rd, Charlton, MA 01507
Should we or shouldn’t we?
The line had two right angles and wrapped around the entire parking lot. Past the two large light posts, past the big hill where children were playing, and past the equipment shed...
Well I’ll owe my wife something nice after this one.
Two hours in line on a Saturday morning...to purchase beer. It’s basically the opposite of what beer drinking should be. Right?
A two-hour wait for any beer is right inside my ‘see ya’ zone, but since I wouldn’t get back to Tree House Brewing Co. anytime soon, I opted to stay and see what all the fuss was about.
This was Tree House’s Charlton location, and it was a very scenic spot nestled down a short drive that opened up to a large brewery–an hour drive southwest of Boston. The location also contained a large covered patio for people to enjoy some beer, but only from their taproom. Drinking from cans or growlers? Prohibited.
The line was filled with Tree House fans, beer geeks, families and plenty of dogs. The locals who readily come to Tree House were more than annoyed with the length of the line, but ultimately stuck it out. While we waited, we conversed about what was being sold for the day, and the consensus was to try and grab Tornado, an aggressively hopped American pale ale. But wishful thinking wasn’t going to get us any–and sure enough with about 25 feet left to the door, Tornado had been sold out. The shopping list had to be modified slightly, but that just included more Haze, a double IPA with earthy dankness.
Once inside, the taproom sat to the left and retail to the right. It was a well-designed space with plenty of raw wood accents. Seeing a waving arm in the air from a shop employee, I got excited and tried to get my old, sore knees to step around some sort of poodle breed, toward my purchase...
Out of the way, it’s beer time!
The gentleman who greeted us was really pleasant, and happy to discuss the beers–and ultimately do all of the beer acquisition calculations, via tablet. There were quantity limits to each beer, but nothing to worry about.
I opted for 12 Haze, 4 SAPs (American IPA), and 4 Eureka with Mosaics (American blonde ale) with a late addition of two Double Shot bottles. Each beer was sold individually, which I found to be a little odd. The grand total: 22 beers, for an even $100 [$4.55/beer to be exact].
I can’t imagine that Tree House wants its fans to have to wait in line for their beer. I’m fairly certain Tree House is extremely happy that it has so many fans that would travel such distances and wait in line for their beer. But the reality of their zero-distribution is that there are going to be lines. And that’s a real letdown for locals and tourists alike. Maybe if everyone could drink homebrews in line? Tailgate? Something...then maybe the experience would be more palatable.
So the big question remains. Was it worth it? I witnessed friends traveling to the brewery and buying beer for college football Saturday. I saw families with children and pets buying their share then relaxing with a pour. I also saw beer geeks drive from Boston just to get a release of something they hadn’t had before. So, as it was for me: on a trip with my wife, exploring the Northeast, and having a break from working...it was worth it.
Personally, I’m glad I had a chance to experience Tree House and to meet their fans. If I lived in the area it would definitely only be a once-in-a-while trip for me. But if you want to see the power of beer, look no further than toward the fans of Tree House Brewing Co.
What We Drank
Haze – A double IPA that pours a cloudy orange and starts off with an earthy dankness in the nose. That dankness emphasizes the fruit heavy notes of peach, grapefruit, and apricot that lead to a light and airy mouthfeel without a hint of alcohol heat in the backend. A fantastic NEIPA, I must say–easily the best I’ve had so far.
Authored & Photographed by Michael A. Hubatch, contributor for The Hop Review. Hubatch is a writer and photographer based in Chicago. He has previously covered the beer scene in Nashville, TN, Las Vegas, NV and Naperville, IL for The Hop Review.