Yes. There are craft beer breweries in the Berkshires. In fact, some of New England’s most savory suds are brewed right here in the Shire. They are expertly crafted brews painstakingly created by local breweries that take as much pride in the quality of their product as their sales figures. This focus on craft beer makes perfect sense if you think about it. It closely mirrors our local arts and award-winning culinary scene. With everything from light Pilsners to golden lagers, robust IPA’s, rich ambers and the stoutest of stouts, our handful of independent breweries are quietly giving the big national boys a run for their money. Yep. There’s great local beer here. You just have to know where to look. That’s where we come in. After much painstaking research, and lots and lots of craft brew sampling, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to put together a list of the Berkshires’ best local breweries and craft beers.
Arguably the most well known beer in the Berkshires. Founded in 2012, Big Elm creates ales and lagers that run the gamut from mild to wild. They have five core brands: American Lager, 413 Farmhouse Ale, IPA, Gerry Dog Stout, and Fat Boy Double IPA. Throughout the year they release multiple specialty brews as well. There is a “taproom” offering customers 8 different beers to sample. You can also purchase beer to take home.
The longest standing Berkshire based brewery, the brew pub first opened its doors in 1995. Their craft beer is brewed in a barn, which also houses a tavern and bar that serves classic American comfort food. A tented outdoor Beer Garden is open in the spring, summer and fall. Ales, based on traditional English styles, are the name of the game here. Their flagship beers include: Berkshire Blonde Ale, Hopland Pale Ale, Barrington Brown Ale, Ice Glen IPA and Black Bear Stout.
Located in the basement of the revitalized Crane Stationery Factory, Shire Breu-Hous is a seven barrel brew pub that serves a mixture of domestic and craft beers, including homemade brews that are made with an on-premises brewing apparatus located behind the bar. The space has lots of rustic character, high-end pub food and live music on some Thursdays and weekends. Showcase beers include Fireman’s Red Ale, Coolanta Mooie, Policemen’s Porter, Pioneer Pale Ale, Byron Weston Berliner Weisse – Mill Series and their Shire Summer Saison.
Craft beer as an art form. This seven-barrel microbrewery and 1,400 square foot taproom has certainly embraced that idea with its location on the campus of the world renowned Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The brewery is all about accessible, affable, quaffable brews that, like the museum, inspire conversation, creativity, and community. The lineup of beers revolves around a wide range of brews ranging from a basic blonde ale to a dark, rich stout and includes an American Pale Ale, the Gose, English IPA and American IPA.
With old church pews for seating, an in-house cat named after a type of hops, and a beer named after a literary masterpiece, Wandering Star has developed a loyal following based on its quirky approach and some of the region’s most creative, and interesting, artisanal ales. So grab a growler and fill it up with eclectic offerings including a Loopy Juice IPA, a Saison called Wandering Star Berkshire Hills 01201, a truly literary amber ale called Catcher in the Rye and their famous seasonal Spring Loaded Grapefruit IPA. Open Saturdays from 12-4pm.
If you’re looking for really good craft beer, you can find them right here in the Berkshires. Trust me. I speak from firsthand experience. Just stop by any of these breweries, take the tour, check out their selection and raise a pint to one of our distinctly local offerings.
Check with individual breweries for their hours as they vary.