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In 1637, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts proclaimed that no one should be in a tavern “longer than necessary occasions.” Conveniently, no footnote defined the length of necessary occasions and, in the near 400 years that have passed, Massachusetts has weathered numerous prohibitions and bans.
Today, MA boasts numerous local libations – many of which are located on the North Shore. From distilleries to wineries and breweries, the North of Boston offers a diverse selection of local, handcrafted refreshments.
So, take your pick – the hardest part is deciding which drink to try first.
Far From the Tree Cider – Salem, MA
The newest cider company on the North Shore, Far From the Tree Cider recently received their license in January 2014 and began production in early February. Using Massachusetts apples and other local ingredients, Far From the Tree strives to create a cider to be enjoyed today or aged for years and saved for a special occasion. Their handcrafted cider is made with the utmost of care and passion, utilizing a slow aging process in oak barrels. The cider is also unpasteurized, unfiltered, and chemical-free.
Photo by Social Palates
If you’re eager for a taste, Far From the Tree’s first cider, Roots, will be launched in June. Roots, as the name suggests, reflects the essences of the Northeast and is 100% regional in nature – a dry New England cider with maple syrup for a signature, all-New England flavor. All are invited to celebrate and taste the new cider at the launch party on June 7th.
Cape Ann Brewing Company – Gloucester, MA
Located in downtown Gloucester, Cape Ann Brewing Company is a family-owned craft brewery, expertly hand-crafting some of the finest brews on the North Shore. They have been honored by North Shore Magazine as the “Best on the North Shore” numerous times, most recently in 2013.
Fisherman’s Old Grog joins the selection at Cape Ann Brewing Company
Community-oriented, the Cape Ann Brewing Company pays tribute to Gloucester’s maritime history and today’s hard-working ethic in their Fisherman’s Brew, an American Amber Lager with a bold flavor that seeks to capture the spirit and courage of the North Atlantic fishing fleet. Their vast array of beverages also includes the Fisherman’s IPA, an India Pale Ale, and Fisherman’s Tea Party, a smoky, smooth barley wine made with three of the tea varieties dumped out during the Boston Tea Party.
Visitors are also invited on one of their free tours, led by a member of their awesome brewing staff. Tours are approximately half an hour and run Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (tours are also available on the weekend by appointment). During your visit, be sure to stop by The Pub for delicious food, super-fun trivia nights and, of course, to try one of Cape Ann Brewing’s fantastic brews.
Mill River Winery – Rowley, MA
Opened in July 2011, Mill River Winery sits atop 3.3 scenic acres in Rowley, Massachusetts. The winery itself is located in the historic Dodge’s Cider Mill and is dedicated to producing handmade wines with only the finest grapes from Massachusetts (Mill River expects their own Cayuga White and Frontenac grapes to be ready to harvest this fall) and other prominent wine regions. Since opening, the Mill River has garnered much acclaim, including a silver medal from the American Wine Society for their 2010 Naked Chardonnay.
Photo by Rob Kaplan
Mill River Winery offers a vast array of wines to satisfy every oenophile. Their clean, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, with its notes of citrus and herbal flavors, will excite the palate and is perfectly paired with cheeses and fish. The dry, lightly oaked Plantation Red (with its raspberry aromas) honors Reverend Ezekiel Rogers who, with 20 English families, settled in Rowley in 1639. For a light vanilla flavor and harmony of floral notes, there is the Riesling. These wines, along with Mill River’s many others, are available at a variety of locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as online.
At the winery, visitors can enjoy a tasting, or a free “Dirt to Bottle” tour on Saturdays and Sundays, which cover the winemaking process from vineyard to manufacturing. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch, too, so you can make the most of a picturesque afternoon at one of their vineyard picnic tables!
Ryan and Wood Distilleries – Gloucester, MA
After Prohibition, few small distilleries reopened in the United States. In 2006, Ryan and Wood Distilleries received the 73rd license to distill in the U.S after the repeal of Prohibition and since then, they have gone on to create some truly fine spirits.
Ryan and Wood Rye Whiskey
Ryan and Woods products – Folly Cove Rum, Knockabout Gin, Beauport Vodka, and Rye Whiskey – are distilled in small batches in a custom-made, 17-foot high copper still from Germany (a highlight of their distillery tour). The entire process to create Ryan and Woods products, from raw ingredients to distillation, bottling, and packaging, is all done on-site with expertise, care, and enthusiasm.
Free tours of the distillery are available Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and are approximately one hour in length. Private group tours are also available and you can inquire about them by calling (978) 281-2282.
Whether you’re looking to find the perfect wine to go with dinner, to shake a martini à la 007, or to pick some brews for a big game, you need look no further than the North of Boston. You can learn more about each of them on our website and, if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by for any of their tours (and maybe a tasting…or two).
Kristina Smith is the Communications Coordinator at the North of Boston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. To get in touch with her, send her an email at email@example.com.
Photo at the top courtesy of Social Palates