January brought one of the coldest winters of the season. With single-digit temperatures and freezing winds, it’s almost unbearable to be outside even when the sun is out.
If the winter blues are getting you down, these local breweries might be able to lift your spirits and keep you warm at the same time. There seems to be a flavor for everyone, from Moon Hill Brewing Co. in the heart of downtown Gardner, Wachusett Brewing Co. in Westminster, the Brew Barn at Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, and more.
So, in no particular order, here are some local brews you should try.
Moon Hill Brewing Co., Gardner
Named after one of Lexington’s most architecturally interesting neighborhoods, Moon Hill Brewing Co., a retail microbrewery, was founded in 2006 by Rick Walton. Walton is a scientist extraordinaire who pursued his interest in biomedical electronics and was a high school physics teacher and software engineer for about 20 years before the birth of Moon Hill Brewing Co.
For 11 years, parent company Moon Hill Brewing Co. exclusively distributed its beers to Gardner Ale House, the only full-menu brewery in north-central Massachusetts and Worcester County. However, in 2017 the company started expanding its distribution to other local pubs and taverns.
Patrons were able to sample Moon Hill beers where it all began – the Gardner Ale House located at 74 Parker St. in downtown Gardner.
Moon Hill’s beer menu is divided into several categories: Classic German, which consists of lagers; Unique and interesting, which consists of sour, pale and pilsner beers; APIs; and The Dark Side, which consist of stout and porter beers.
Other than that, also be sure to check out other places that sell Moon Hill Brewing Co. products, such as the Brew Barn at Red Apple Farms in Phillipston.
Wachusett Brewing Co., Westminster
Some might believe the saying, “Friends you make in college are friends you’ll have for life.” Well, in this case, it’s true.
Wachusett Brewing Co., Worcester County’s first brewery, was founded in 1994 by three students who met while attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute. During their biking, canoeing and hiking adventures around New England, Ned LaFortune, Peter Quinn and Kevin Buckler became obsessed with brewing culture and an appreciation for craft beers.
Wachusett Brewing Co.’s beer selection is divided into three categories: Year-Round, which includes the company’s famous Blueberry Ale; Seasonal, which includes Oktoberfest (rich amber harvest beer), Pumpkin Ale and Winter (grilled beer with winter spices); and Limited Releases, which includes Latte Da (coffee milk stout), Bonspiel (imperial maple stout) and Rarest of the Rare, a new series of beers that is only available on tap at the location of the business in Westminster.
When the weather is nice outside, patrons can sit outside at the Brew Yard, located at 175 State Road East of the brewery in Westminster. With draft beers, live music and comfort food, it’s definitely a hot spot during the summer. However, in winter, indoor seating is available.
Wachusett Brewing Co. also distributes its products to local liquor stores, taverns and grocery stores.
Brewing barn at Red Apple Farm, Phillipston
Red Apple Farm was founded in 1912 and later purchased by the Rose family in 1929. Fast forward to the present, the business remains family owned and has seen three generations of owners.
Red Apple Farm is truly a gem in North Central Massachusetts, offering visitors attractions such as fruit picking (apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, winter squash, blueberries, raspberries, corn popping, Indian corn and sunflowers), wagon rides and scenic walking trails around the farm.
Located at 455 Highland Ave. in Phillipston, Red Apple Farm also has its Brew Barn, where customers can sample the farm’s hard cider.
It all started on Sunday, June 30, 2019, when a hailstorm hit the farm’s orchard and damaged more than half of the company’s apples. So the owners decided to achieve a long-standing goal of using the “perfectly imperfect apples” to start producing their own cider. On October 11, 2019, the company launched its “Hailstorm Hard Cider”.
In addition to being a distributor of Moon Hill Brewing Co. products, customers can enjoy the three different types of ciders they offer: semi-sweet cider, dry cider (the farm’s very first varietal cider ) and Honey Hard Cider (made by only with Honey Crisp Apples).
Thirst Robot Brewing Co., Fitchburg
Thirsty Robot Brewing Co. opened on August 28, 2021. Although relatively new, the brewery is making its mark on becoming one of Fitchburg’s hotspots. Located at 265 Summer St., the brewery focuses on “beers rich in aroma and flavor, with an emphasis on New England IPAs.”
As its name suggests, the concept of the brewery revolves around the world of robots. Some of the company’s beer selections are: Boiler Maker, an American amber beer with Amarillo, Centennial and Simcoe in a kettle and dry-hopped with Nugget; Chappie, a traditional cream beer; and Rosie, a sour beer brewed with magnum hops and with strong notes of raspberry and wild strawberry.
For beer lovers who enjoy a slightly eclectic selection of beers with a “funk or twist on traditional styles”, or if you’re a customer who just wants to try something new, then Thirsty Robot Brewing Co. is definitely the place to be. place to be.
River Styx Brewery, Fitchburg
Known for its boozy IPAs, heavy barrel-aged stouts and beer cans inspired by Greek mythology, River Styx Brewing Co. was founded in 2016 by Jackie Cullen and her husband, Scott. With a passion for using quality ingredients to make high-quality beer, this family-run business offers a family-friendly, dog-friendly bar.
Located at 166 Boulder Drive, Fitchburg, River Styx Brewing Co. underwent an expansion in late 2021, allowing the brewery to increase distributions and brew lagers – a type of beer the company did not previously offer.
River Styx Brewing Co. also draws inspiration from Greek mythology for its drink names, resulting in catchy names to match its irresistible beers. The company’s beer selection includes Eros (Greek god of love and desire), a decadent imperial stout with a hint of chocolate and conditioned cream on Oreos; Prometheus (Greek god of fire), an imperial stout with notes of coffee, vanilla bean and aged hazelnuts and coconut; and Aphrodite #1 (Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty), the tangy brewery base with notes of raspberries, strawberries and vanilla bean.