Your Local Co-op Summer Beer Guide!

At the co-op, we believe that locally made goods are always better in quality and taste... and beer is no exception! We have a great selection of summertime craft brews from regional microbreweries to choose from—there’s something for every palate! Whether you prefer New England IPAs for their hoppy kick, lagers and pilsners for their drinkability or sours for their funky flavors and fruit aromas, it’s no wonder why the breweries in our area are known for producing some of the best beers around. Check out our guide below to learn more about the beers available on our shelves and discover what’s happening locally in the world of craft brews!

Fort Hill Brewing

Fort Hill Brewery - Easthampton, MA

After graduating from the Siebel Institute for Brewing in 2010, Eric Berzins began looking for a location for his new brewery. He had visited over 60 different potential build sites, but all were tainted by various levels of water contaminants. Refusing to put the quality of his future brews in jeopardy, he looked west and considered towns such as Southampton, Easthampton, Three Rivers and Palmer. Eric eventually settled on a former hayfield at the base of Mount Tom, located on Fort Hill Road in Easthampton.

Finding the right location was just the beginning. In November 2012, Fort Hill Brewery rose under the watchful eye of Mount Tom. Construction continued for about two years before the first beer, an Oktoberfest, was released in 2014. During that same month, Fort Hill Brewery opened its doors to the public, offering tastings, tours, and growlers as they continue to do today.

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Fort Hill Brewery's Fresh Pick IPA (left) and Jigsaw Jazz DIPA (right)

Fresh Pick IPA
Fresh Pick IPA is a tropical-style IPA and an ideal pick for hop heads who can't live without that extra punch in their summer brews. This offering from Fort Hill Brewery retains that perfect balance of sweet and bitter thanks to its unique combination of Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic hops. Beer enthusiasts call it bitter, but with less of that familiar hop burn. It's appropriately cloudy in appearance and accented with plenty of citrus notes. This is one perfectly refreshing ale that feels and tastes like paradise!

Jigsaw Jazz IPA
Here’s something different, yet familiar in just the right ways. Fort Hill’s flagship Imperial IPA, Jigsaw Jazz, is surprisingly light in body and citrusy in flavor despite its 9.3% ABV rating. When creating the beer, the brewery sought to bring East Coast and West Coast-style IPAs together in a perfect fusion. Today, the beer regularly receives high review scores and universal praise from beer enthusiasts... it's safe to say the brewers at Fort Hill achieved their goal with resounding success!

Building 8 Brewing

Building 8 Brewing, Florence, MA 

Building 8 Brewing (also known as BLDG8) is a microbrewery located within the heart of The Baystate Village in Northampton, Ma. They are committed to creating a quality product with a hop-forward presence. The brewery is owned and operated by O'Brian and Meghan Tomalin, as well as their head brewmaster. Since September 2015 the piney, tropical stunner has earned high praise from fans and kept the new brewery afloat. In the fall of 2015, they set up shop in a former cutlery factory, located right next door to the Tomalins’ house. And although focusing on The IPA proved to be a solid introduction for Building 8, the Tomalins didn’t intend for their brewery to be forever known for just one beer. This ambition to create different varieties and try new recipes has since led to many more great tasting beers from Building 8.

The Building 8 name is more than just a name. According to Tomalin, the moniker surprisingly originated from the blueprint name for their home base, “Building 8.” The subdivided former cutlery factory that now houses the brewery is home to multiple businesses, and when the Tomalins submitted the blueprint for their future business they noticed their space was labeled BLDG8.  O’Brian liked the way it looked, and so the name stuck. Fun fact: O’Brian also notes that Building 8 of the NASA Johnson Space Center is allegedly where the agency stores all their supposed UFO findings. This theory (plus O’Brian’s sense of humor) is what ultimately inspired the iconic almond-shaped eyes visible in the logo’s hop cone.

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The IPA (left), The Lager (center) and Black Currant Sour Cherry (right)

This west coast-style IPA is known for appearing clear and golden with a very subtle honey color prevalent in the highlights. A frothy white head holds the top tight, locking in the subtle flavors and hop textures. Big, intricate lacing prevails throughout each sip. At 70 IBU its strong hop taste and finish are the most prevalent features, but at 6.5% ABV this brew is still very drinkable. Unsurprisingly, hop heads everywhere seem to agree… this one is a hit! 

The Lager
This 16 oz. can is best enjoyed from a becher. It has a mostly clear, pale straw-light gold body with a one finger length sized top. The head has a foamy-frothy consistency, good retention and it produces spotty lacing, or residue that moves from the head down the glass as you drink. The beer is light bodied, but rich in texture with a very smooth mouthfeel. It has a puffy and creamy consistency with a high level of carbonation and crisp bitterness.

Black Currant Sour Cherry Sour
Building 8 Black Currant Sour Cherry is a newer offering from the talented team of brewers at BLDG8 and it’s certainly a welcome addition. Brewed with a darker malt bill than their other sours, the touch of lactose adds a smooth slightly sweet finish that tastes great anytime. It makes a perfect summertime dessert beer. Sours are known for their tartness, which pair well with hearty, rich foods. This beer works well with seafood and tangy cheeses, but it also can be enjoyed on its own as a summertime dessert beer… perfect!

Want to see how these beers are packaged before they’re shipped to the co-op? Click here!

Jack's Abby Brewing

Jack's Abby Craft LagersFramingham, MA

Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers was founded by three brothers, Jack, Eric, and Sam Hendler in 2011. Since then the brewery has become a mainstay of the craft brewing scene in the Northeast and nationwide. The Hendler brothers grew up in a family that promoted entrepreneurship and hard work. They spent summers with their grandfather and their family-owned ice distribution company, where they learned the value of a committed family and loyal employees - which became the foundation of Jack’s Abby. With this foundation, Jack’s Abby became quite the sensation and since their opening has tripled in size and is only continuing to grow.

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Jack's Abby Post Shift Pilsner (left) and House Lager Bier (right)

Post Shift Pilsner
Jack’s Abby Post Shift Pilsner is ever-so-slightly hazed, its light golden body was topped by a fluffy, inch-tall, bright white crown that quickly fell to a thin collar. A few tiny dots of lacing trickled down the glass after each sip.

House Lager Bier
The House Lager from Jack’s Abby pulls inspiration from the numerous country lagers, or landbiers, found in Franconia. It is known for its sweet and golden flavor with a full malty body that comes from using a traditional German malt variety. A special beer for year-round enjoyment. 

Mighty Squirrel Brewing

Mighty Squirrel Brewing - Waltham, MA

Mighty Squirrel Brewing was co-founded by Pawar and Henry Manice in 2013 after starting to brew beer that year at home. At the time, the two were working in the medical device industry and decided to establish a brewery after discovering there was a need for a great tasting, low-carb beer. This journey led them to brew their beer on a contract basis in Vermont, Maryland and Massachusetts before eventually expanding expand their focus to create more beers that did not necessarily fit their original vision. They sold their early brews to restaurants across Massachusetts, including ones on Moody Street in Waltham—an area known for exceptional outdoor dining. After researching and scouting locations for a taproom across a whopping 36 cities as well as multiple spots throughout Boston, including the old Downeast Cider production site in the Back Bay, the founders finally received a call in April 2017 from The Haynes Group in Waltham about an ideal location. The Haynes Group designed the brewery and taproom, having previously worked on brewery construction with projects such as Oak & Iron and Trillium Brewing Co. in Andover. Today, the brewers at Mighty Squirrel are still creating amazing new beers at this same site. In their words, they like to bundle some of their favorite things into each serving of their beers: friendship, sports, entrepreneurship, innovation and fun.

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Velvet Moon Mocha Stout
The Velvet Moon Mocha stout from Mighty Squirrel is known for its big bubbled head that dissipates to nearly nothing and has no lace. It’s dark brown in body therefore light cannot get through the edge. It’s scent is reminiscent of coffee and with some chalkiness as well. The flavor mimics the smell in a good way with plenty of sweetened coffee with a mocha finish. The body of the beer is appropriate for the style with carbonation is slightly high and the aftertaste of the carbonation features the lingering coffee flavors.

Cosmic Distortion Double IPA
For a hop-centric kick from Mighty Squirrel, try this tropical fruit IPA. The taste really echoes and amplifies the nose. It has dark tropical fruit and zesty citrus notes, all backed up by a satisfying malt character. A slow deep draw as it warms also reveals a candy "pop” sound not unlike biting into a pink Starburst.

Sour Face Berliner Weisse
If you are looking for a tart beer, try this Weisse. Its color is a deep shade of raspberry red with a filmy and slightly lacy head. The smell is also fruity, with accents of raspberries and kiwis prevalent throughout. Its taste is similar in sourness to Mikeller beers of this style. The feel is very fluid with moderate carbonation, which is typical for a fruity Weisse. Make no mistake, this is one seriously refreshing tart weissbier with some standout fruit flavors that will keep you reaching back into your cooler for more.

Cloud Candy
This addition to the IPA scene pours a hazy, deep golden-orange color with a thick, white head, releasing aromas of papaya, mango, and starfruit. It is medium-bodied and not too intense, despite being a hop-forward brew. The nose is bursting with fruity hops and quickly balances out thanks to a light, malty backbone. Each sip ends on a strong note with a smooth, crisp finish. This is a deliciously quintessential New England IPA... you won't be disappointed!

Abandoned Brewing

Abandoned Building Brewing - Easthampton, MA 

In early 2013, Matt Tarlecki began transforming a 2,700 square foot space in an old mill building at 142 Pleasant Street in Easthampton, aptly named “The Brickyard”. The previous tenant was a plastic bag manufacturer who vacated the space and left it in shambles. Giant rolls of plastic, large pieces of equipment, and tons of odds-and-ends were stacked floor-to-ceiling throughout the space, but Tarlecki managed to transform this space and fulfill his vision of the staple local brewery that stands there today.

The majority of Abandoned Building Brewery was designed, constructed, and finished by Matt, including painting the 16 ft. tall walls and ceiling, assembling the walk-in cooler, refurbishing the original hardwood floors and installing a custom 15-barrel brewhouse with two 30-barrel fermenters and one 30-barrel brite tank. Much of the work on the brewery was focused on sprucing up and refinishing the space, and renovations were purposely kept limited to maintain the ambiance of the original mill building. He successfully navigated the permitting side of brewing and was granted a Federal Brewer’s Notice in October of 2013. A state-level Farmer-Brewery License was awarded at the end of November that same year, and Matt has been dishing out perfectly crafted beer to local communities ever since.

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Pan Galactic IPA
One thing you might notice immediately about this IPA is its plentiful amounts of fine yeast suspended in the liquid. The brew is golden and hazy in appearance. It pours with a modest head which dissipates quickly around the rim. Pan Galactic has a soft pale malt start with only a touch of floral hops and is well balanced with a nice, pale ale aroma. This one may not be a New England-style IPA, but it is still absolutely delicious and a must-try for any local craft beer enthusiast.

Shake Milkshake IPA
Abandoned Building knows milkshakes are the best. But how do you combine such a thing with beer? Brewmaster Matt Tarlecki somehow discovered the secret, and ever since he’s been melding them together for an unforgettable small-series run! At 6.6%, the current edition of their experimental Milkshake IPA series features Mosaic hops and loads of malted oats along with a healthy dose of strawberries, vanilla beans and lactose sugar. These flavorings give the Shake IPA series a delectable creaminess and thicker consistency than most other IPAs. They are the perfect nightcap to follow up any summer evening barbecue!

Irish Farewell Red Ale
This Irish Farewell Red Ale from Abandoned Brewing is gently carbonated with a clear, deep copper color. This beer has sweet malts, a touch of earthy hops, and a nice brown sugar element that flows in mid-sip. The malt base follows the nose quite well and hits the palate intensely with a hop presence near the finish. Overall, this is a solid Irish Red that drinks well, and we’re thrilled such a delicious Irish Red can be produced locally--a rare find for our area. Try it paired with any irish cheese or gluten-free crackers for a perfect balance of salty and sweet.

Brickyard Porter
Did you know Abandoned Building’s Brickyard Porter is named after their brewery’s own stomping grounds? There is plenty of history surrounding the 1902 Mill Building, known as the “Brickyard,” a fact not lost on the brewmasters at Abandoned Building. Brickyard is a classic brown porter with a full body and rich taste, complete with notes of caramel and chocolate. This porter is your perfect dinner companion during those dog days of summer, right when the evenings are starting to feel a bit cooler!

Curbside Pils
Curbside Pils is a first for Abandoned Building Brewery! This unfiltered, yet light-bodied Bohemian-style Czech pilsner is made with just four simple ingredients--malted barley, Czech Saaz hops, filtered water and lager yeast. Pilsners have gotten a bad rap in the United States over the last half-century or so due to the widespread and inappropriate labeling of cheap macro-lagers (we dare not speak their names) as “pilsners.” In reality, those beers could never hold a candle to what Abandoned Building has done with Curbside Pils. Talk about serious summer refreshment!

Berkshire Brewing

Berkshire Brewing Company - South Deerfield, MA

Berkshire Brewing Company was founded in South Deerfield, MA in the fall of 1994. Its founders shared a single purpose—to revive a time-honored tradition of high-quality craft brewing in this part of the region. Through word of mouth (and taste buds), Berkshire’s fresh, unfiltered and unpasteurized ales quickly exploded and became the talk of beer drinkers throughout Western Massachusetts and beyond. In a mere 25 years, BBC has grown from a small, distinguished microbrewery—brewing very small batches of seven barrels at a time—to New England’s premier regional craft brewery. Their brew lineup features a broad range of year-round and seasonal ales, as well as lagers, which are canned and distributed to locations across New England. They have gotten this far by keeping a focus on fresh brewing, craftsmanship, and most importantly, people. 

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BBC Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale (left) and Drayman's Porter (right)

Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale
Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale is a slightly hazy, light golden ale pours with a lofty stand of snow-white foam that seems to dissipate rather quickly. It has very light fruity esters, reminiscent of lemon meringue pie and earthy papaya, stand out in the sweet nose, while similar flavors of sugary, earthy, pale malt and melon-like notes emerge on the tongue. The beer is very light and drinkable, not too strong at 5.2% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with just a hint of hoppy aftertaste. 

Drayman's Porter
Drayman’s Porter is a mildly sweet, well-balanced and full-bodied, dark ruby-brown ale. It is dark in appearance, has a ruby-brown hue and tastes of cacao malt and mocha combined with a delicate hop bitterness and rich flavor. Drayman’s Porter has a complex aroma, but it's smooth in taste and embodies all that a dark beer should be. It pairs perfectly with a hearty meal, or by itself!

Two Roads Brewing

Two Roads Brewing - Stratford, CT 

Two Roads Brewing Company was founded in 2012 by four friends who dreamed for years of starting a craft brewery. They fostered a “road less traveled” philosophy that shines through their beers and how they are made. In that spirit, award-winning Brewmaster and 27-year craft beer veteran Phil Markowski has created an extensive lineup that takes a unique twist on classic beer styles. The brewery was recently included among the ten best Breweries in America by Paste Magazine and has won many awards over the years, including the top prize for their Belgian Lambic style Ale in 2016 at the Great American Beer Festival.

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Road to Ruin Double IPA
Looking for a beer with a seriously snappy hop bite? Try Two Roads’ Road to Ruin Double IPA! This assertive, hop-centric Double IPA has a lean malt backdrop and is brewed with seven American hop varieties. Its complex flavors include notes of pine, citrus and floral overtones… While it’s true this brew may not be for those unprepared or inexperienced with DIPAs, there is a reason this beer has serious staying power and has already cemented itself as a local classic.

Lil’ Juicy New England IPA
This classic New England IPA uses heaping amounts of Galaxy, Citra and Azacca hops, yet still produces a highly-drinkable IPA. This local favorite contains notes of juicy, tropical fruits like orange and lemon-lime with hints of various floral flavors. It's absolutely perfect for a summer day.

Passion Fruit Gose
This was Two Roads Brewing's first beer in the Tanker Truck Sour Series, of which the co-op carries several! This selection has a tangy passion fruit nose and taste mingled with tartness and salinity.

Plum Gose
For a colorful drink, choose Plum Gose from Two Roads Brewing. It has a bright pink color and long-lasting head with a modest floral aroma and delicate plum taste. It has a refreshing tart, fruity flavor with a salty mineral bite at the finish.

Pineapple Mango Gose
This beer has a rich blend of tropical fruit notes with hints of pineapple, mango and guava. It has a pleasing tartness, it’s a tropical twist on a refreshing fruit gose.

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