Brewery Name: Rapscallion Brewery
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery (though they also have a Brewpub in Acton, MA)
Location: 195 Arnold Road, Sturbridge, MA. Get off Interstate 84 and onto Route 20. Once you hit Arnold Road, head due north and don’t stop until you see the brewery (about a five minute drive).
Facebook: Rapscallion Brewery
Background: The Rapscallion story is fascinating, and I don’t think I can do it justice in a little blurb here. You should head over to their website and take a look at the About Us section. The brewery itself also features an interesting timeline that sums up the key parts of the story, which I thought was pretty cool. Take a look!
The Beers: I had two flights, because, hey, why not? Served in what seem to be little 4 oz honey or jam jars, the flights really captured the rustic feel of the brewery as a whole. The beer menu was pretty varied and seems to turn over fairly often (I was sad to see that I missed sampling their Gose by one day), so I had a lot to choose from.
Rye IPA: The first beer I tried, this was nice and crisp with a delicious, citrusy finish. It’s a little drier than I usually prefer, but I think that’s a symptom of the rye IPA style, so I can’t exactly complain.
Black IPA: There isn’t much to say about black IPAs. I’m a big fan of the style, but the good ones, for the most part, taste more or less the same. This was really well executed with a good amount of that bitterness you want.
Red: This beer had a really nice color, but it was a little too thin for me. Has almost a weiss or kolsch-like quality. The flavor is there, though--it’s rich and coppery, just what you want from a red. If it was a little stronger I think I would like it quite a bit.
Glacier: This is part of an ongoing series that Rapscallion produces. This time around, it was single-hopped with Glacier hops and has a really nice, understated flavor. Cool beer, and definitely one of my favorites here.
Session: Huge flavor for a session! I was expecting a watered-down version of the rye IPA, but instead I got an unexpected burst of floral awesomeness.
Coffee Stout: As long as you hit that nice, roasty flavor on the nose, a coffee stout should be tough to screw up. Rapscallion nails it. I put this up against Night Shift’s coffee stout, easy.
White: The sweet and bitter play really well together. Just an excelled wit.
Lager: Even though it’s probably their most celebrated beer, I saved this for last for a reason. Wow. The Rapscallion Lager is incredible. The brewery claims that this it is made from the oldest beer recipe in Massachusetts, dating back to 1898 at Harvard Brewing, and wow does it ever deliver. It’s light for a lager, and it’s crisp and refreshing. I’m not typically a lager guy, but I fell in love with this beer immediately. I get why people crave lagers now. I can’t praise it enough. I even took a crowler home with me.
Vibe: Really cool vibe. Honestly, I wish I had been there when it was a little busier, because I could easily see this place lighting up when it’s bustling. The guys tending bar were cool to talk to, and there were a few people hanging around who I can only assume are regulars, which is always good to see.
Of course, that’s all burying the lede, which is the fact that this brewery is located on a farm. And not just a farm, but a disc golf course as well. How cool is that? You can try a few beers, throw the frisbee around, have a few more beers, look out over the gorgeous little pond that sits right outside the front door, have a few more beers...you get the picture. It’s a really cool space in a really cool area.
You’ve got to go a few miles down winding back roads through what feels like a legit forest, only to have everything open up before your very eyes when arrive at the brewery. The inside is nice, with a rustic, old-world feel, and there’s even some outdoor seating if you feel like soaking up some sun. You can hear people playing on the disc golf course while you sit and drink, which gives it a pretty neat ambiance. Hearing a group of people erupt into cheers when one makes a particularly difficult shot should always bring a smile to your face.
And oh-by-the-way...Rapscallion has my single favorite item of brewery merchandise that I’ve gotten my hands on: crowler koozies! That’s right, it’s a beer koozie, but crowler-sized. So weird. So unnecessary. So PERFECT. I bought one immediately, and you should, too.
Dogs: I didn’t see any while I was there, but given that the brewery is located on a farm and they don’t serve food, I would guess that they don’t have a problem with dogs.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Pretty reasonable prices all around. You can even walk out with a crowler for less than $10, which is pretty awesome.
Food: Sort of. There are some very basic snack options like chips and pretzels, but they don’t have a kitchen in-house. The same cannot be said for Rapscallion’s other location, which is a full brewpub. If you’re looking for a meal while you drink, you may want to head up to Acton to check it out!
Final Thoughts: I wish I had been able to stay longer, but my time there was more than enough to see that Rapscallion is a clear winner. Great beer, friendly staff, and one of the coolest brewery locations I’ve ever visited. Next time I’m there, I fully intend to take advantage of the disc golf course and take a look around the property. I’m really impressed with the Rapscallion operation, and I really can’t wait to come back!
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