Brewery Name: Tree House Brewing Company
Type of Brewery: Production Brewery
Location: 160 East Hill Road, Monson, MA (about 20 minutes off the Mass Pike).
Facebook: Tree House Brewing Co., LLC
Growlers: Most of the time, yes; however, on Wednesdays the brewery only sells cans. You used to be able to purchase quite a few growlers, but, due to Tree House’s popularity, they usually limit you to three growlers per person these days. Also, some beers may only be available in certain quantities (750ml vs 2L growlers).
The Beers: There’s a reason Tree House has the reputation it does: the beers are, universally, fantastic. During my most recent trip, I was able to get both cans and growlers of:
Julius: Tree House’s flagship beer. It’s a New England IPA bursting with citrusy goodness. Julius is one of the best beers I’ve ever had, with beautiful New England haziness, a solid kick of alcohol, and some of the most pure, crisp flavors you’ll ever taste.
Sap: This was my first time having Sap, and it’s an interesting departure from most of their other beers. Brewed with Chinook hops, Sap has more of that piney bitterness than I’m used to from Tree House's IPAs. This isn’t a knock on it--in fact, it’s cool to see that Tree House can do something so different and still knock it out of the park. It’s earthier than Julius, and I like it quite a bit.
Bright: A nice double IPA, this was my first time tasting Bright as well. I gotta say--wow. It’s not as good as Julius in my mind, but it’s damn close. The flavorful bite of citrus on the back end of this one is just perfect. It lives up to its name, too: pour this baby into a glass and it’ll practically glow in the dark. Just a gorgeous pour.
Single Shot: Single shot wasn’t available when I went, but luckily I was able to swap a couple of cans with a friend who had gone the week before (thanks, Jon). Like Sap, Single Shot is a departure from Tree House’s usual fare. Unlike Sap, Single Shot is a milk stout. A lot of breweries known for their IPAs struggle to make the leap into dark beers, but Tree House is not one of those breweries. Single Shot is an excellent addition to the roster.
Vibe: I love Tree House. It’s everything you want in a small-town brewery, and the folks there have figured out a fantastic system. Lines outside the door can often grow into the hundreds, but if you’re just looking to grab some cans and go, you can usually be in and out relatively quickly. Growler fills, on the other hand, can take a while. But the system that Tree House has worked out is about as efficient as it can possibly be, so it’s hard to hold that against them. Sometimes...well, sometimes there are just limits to what you can do!
I’ve also never had a bad experience waiting in line at Tree House. Their regulars are always friendly, and people in line are usually eager to strike up a conversation. The land that Tree House is built on it beautiful, and as you wait you’ll see a field of grass with a nice man-made pond out back. The vibe on the inside is great, although it’s a production brewery, so don’t go looking for a place to sit and hang out. You’ll see bottles from countless other breweries lining the walls, and the rustic vibe of the bar and the building itself make you feel right at home. Like I said, it’s generally pretty easy to get in and out, and Tree House has done an excellent job maximizing their limited space.
Dogs: You bet. I saw some of the most gorgeous dogs I’ve ever seen while standing in line last week.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$ to $$$$. I’ve never gotten in and out of Tree House without spending a solid $80, but once you own a few growlers they’re not that expensive to refill (unfortunately, Massachusetts state law dictates that breweries can only fill their own growlers, so don't show up with growlers from other breweries and expect them to be filled). Cans will run you anywhere from $3.50 to $4.50 or so (depending on what is being canned that week), but there are usually pretty tight limits on how many cans they’ll sell each person, so chances are you won’t break the bank.
Food: No food, sadly. Monson, MA doesn’t have the same sort of thriving food truck scene that some other locations enjoy, so you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to food.
Final Thoughts: Tree House runs a tight ship and the brewery itself is fantastic. Limited availability is really the only thing that keeps Tree House from perfection, but the sheer quality of the beer itself makes that issue feel like an awfully small one. Still, the fact that it’s possible to walk out of Tree House with just a few cans of beer on some days takes some of the shine off. But if you keep an eye on the "on tap" page of their website and keep apprised of their Twitter updates, you can usually figure out which days are your best bet and give yourself the best possible odds.
It won’t be too long before Tree House moves to a new location, so my goal is certainly to enjoy this one while it lasts. It’s a great facility filled with friendly people (be sure to tip them well!) and some of the best beer you’re ever likely to taste.
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