Remember when I ranted about NEVER going to stand in line for craft beer EVER again after waiting for three whole hours at Hill Farmstead Brewing Co. last summer? Yeah. Well. I did it again. This time at Tree House Brewing Co. in Monson, Massachusetts. It was my first stop during my epic “Chelsie does MA craft breweries while visiting her Mom” trip back in June. I was leery about driving 8 long hours straight until arriving at my destination in Andover, MA which is at the very tippy top of the state. So it made complete sense to take a break from driving and hit up a brewery on the way. After all, Tree House came highly recommended. “A must stop.” “If you go anywhere, go here.” “They have fabulous IPAs”. Ummm. Ok. Sold! My husband and I are both hardcore Hop Heads as well as Beercationers.
We made sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to opening at 5pm since we knew how popular the place was. We thought that would give us ample time to snag our beer and then go grab dinner somewhere on our way to Andover. To our surprise, there had been a line forming for hours outside the brewery before we got there. Once we found a place to park (along side a narrow country road), we scurried to get in line before others who were pulling in in droves made it there first. This line was so incredibly long I just knew we didn’t want 40 more people hopping ahead of us. Take a look:
See that woman that I circled in the photo? That was an employee passing out order forms so that folks in line could check off which beers they wanted and in what quantities. Some brews had a quantity limit which was understandable. This wasn’t our first rodeo at Beer Hunting. But we didn’t expect to NOT be able to try anything before ordering. But, hey, this was a great brewery so we weren’t exactly worried. It just would have been nice to try before you buy.
After we marked our selections and turned in our order, we were told an estimated time to wait: 3 hours. Gulp! “What did you say?” “About 3 hours until they call your name with the order fulfilled. But no worries. You don’t have to stand in line the whole time,” she assured us. OK. Phew! I really didn’t want to wait that long but thank goodness we could hang out casually or even leave and come back closer to the time to pick up our brews.
We chose to stay on premise the whole time to explore the surroundings, talk to fellow craft beer lovers and watch the beer-making action in the brewery. But really we were deep-down-inside hoping it would take way less than 3 hours.
(We somehow missed the What To Expect page on the Tree House site which would have prepped us. Or maybe it has been added since our visit. Either way. READ IT!)
Hanging Out & Checking Things Out
It was a gorgeous summer day. No humidity and wispy clouds in the sky made for an enjoyable wait. We learned that Tree House Brewing Co. had just moved into this brand-spankin’-new building earlier this year. It was astonishing to know that although the brewery had started in 2011 that already in 2015 they had to expand to keep up with demand. I just knew this was going to be really great beer! I sported a big, silly expectant grin the whole time. I wouldn’t say I was salivating (OK. Maybe I was.). But I most definitely wanted to dig into this beer the minute we arrived at my Mom’s place.
Until then, I checked out the various planters with baby hop vines twisting their way up twine and admired the soon-to-be-opening tasting room. That cute little building had housed the brewery, store and tasting room at the old location across the street before being transported to its new home here beside the massive new brewery. The tasting room is slated to open sometime this year. There you will be able to get samples, from my understanding. Cool!
TIP: Did you notice the sign: No Open Cans or Full Pours on Premises. Samples Only. Two things to note here. The town’s police department actively patrols the parking lot for people drinking. While there, we saw a police car drive through twice. Do NOT drink your growlers at your car, folks. Secondly, you will not be able to purchase pints of beer at the brewery.
So what about the Tree House? I looked all around hoping to see a tree house. After all the place is Tree House Brewing Co. We learned from Dean, the brewery liason, that just across the parking lot and into the field/wooded area there was an area slated for constructing the tree house and fish pond. Darn! We were going to miss seeing it. No worries. During our next visit, the tree house exploration IS happening. I don’t know. I just have a thing for tree houses.
Speaking of the parking lot. The space is pretty huge. But so many folks show up at the brewery, that you may have to park along the street that the brewery sits on. We ended up doing that and then once the line widdled down after the first hour or so, we moved our car to the spots opening up in the parking lot. Then we didn’t have to trek our filled growlers a distance to where we originally parked.
Gift Shop & Taproom Area
While waiting DO go into the gift shop and taproom to explore merch. I was able to snag a comfy, soft sweat shirt and Derek opted for a t-shirt. We also got to check out the way the orders were being filled at the growler station. It was a work of art at how methodically and quickly they pushed through orders. Well done, ladies and gents. Well done.
To our surprise, one of the patrons was a musician. After a little prodding from the group, he busted out his violin and started to entertain us. So fun!
NOTE: If you have to use the restroom, there are outdoor porta potties. Bring hand sanitizer. There aren’t sinks to wash your hands.
Inside the Brewery
When standing in the taproom area, all you have to do is turn around to literally be in the brewery. It’s roped off of course. But you can get a front row seat at the beer making process. We just missed seeing cans being filled. That was to occur the very next day. Bummer. Until next time, sweet delicious canned beer!
We were told that on canning days, purchases are made so quickly that mid-way through sales the cans are literally being filled, topped and handed to the buyer. Now that’s fresh.
Our selections for this visit included growler fills of Alter Ego (IPA), Julius (IPA), Very Green (DIPA) and Double Shot (Imperial Coffee Stout). The latter I gifted to Miss Tierney since she has an infinity for Stouts. The IPAs were quite delicious and dare I say “World Class.” This is definitely a brewery to seek out.
Insider Secret: Just one minute away is a farm, creamery and eatery called Westview Farms. Definitely go there WHILE you are waiting. I wish we had done that instead of waiting until after our order was filled.
I ordered a tuna fish sandwich with curly fries and Derek chose a burger with fresh cut fries. The portions are huge and the food is quite tasty. I especially loved the toasted brioche roll. Who knew such good food was just a minute away? I envied those buying ice cream. I just couldn’t stuff in one more bite, but next time will leave room for mint chocolate chip or perhaps black raspberry.
- Come early to get your order form to avoid long waits once the brewery opens
- Bring a picnic lunch/dinner, non-alcoholic beverages and enjoy the outdoors OR go to Westview Farms for some good eats.
- Bring a cooler with ice to store your filled growlers
- Consider toting along folding chairs, umbrella (just in case!) and whatever else will make your wait more comfortable.
- Dress for the weather and for the amount of time you’ll be hanging out. I recommend sneakers and to dress in layers if you’re not sure if you’ll end up hot or cold.
- Just show up without checking the brewery hours and release info. Currently, the hours are Thursday & Friday from 5 PM – 8 PM and Saturday from 11 AM – 6 PM.
- Expect any kind of growler to be filled. You can only fill approved Tree House Brewing Co. growlers. This is “a thing” throughout Massachusetts due to the way the growler fill regulations/law is written and interpreted.
- Get antsy or disgruntled because you have to wait. Do know that the staff is working as fast and efficiently as possible. It’s a well oiled machine. And, be happy that you don’t have to physically stand in line like at other breweries.
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