Super Brews

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Craft Punk. Chain Saaz. Green Monsta IPA. Bella Czech Pils.

You didn’t see these names popping up in any ads during the heart-stopping hustle of Super Bowl LI —but they’re playing big in Johnny Appleseed Country.

The region has become a hotbed of brewing activity — and there’s more action in the pipeline this year. Craft beer lovers will want to linger here, to sample the ever-growing line-up of regular and seasonal brews.

Wachusett Brewery has come a long way since a trio of college buddies decided to turn their appreciation for beer into a full-fledged business two decades ago. Over time, the brewery hasn’t moved from its Westminster location — but its product line, and its fame, have expanded.  And there’s a certain amount of New England playfulness on that bench: traditional names like Black Shack Super BrewsPorter and New England Lager stand side-by-side on the shelf with favorites like Larry Triple Double, Bella Czech Pils and Green Monsta IPA, giving a tip of the hat to the region’s title-winning teams.

In Gardner, enjoying a craft beer can also mean teaming it up with a meal — and that extends beyond typical pub food. On any day, the menu at  the Gardner Ale House may include Strawberry, Goat Cheese & Grilled Chicken Salad or a Thai Chicken Thin Crust Pizza. But, of course, it’s the beer brewed in the basement that draws beer aficianados for return visits. You never know what new brew, marketed under the Moon Hill Brewing label, will be on tap; it might be a Seasonal Sour Ale, Facelift IPA, or a Snack Pack Stout.

And this summer, Fitchburg expects to be home to a new microbrewery, River Styx Brewing. The downtown business will include a tap room, complete with outside patio. There are no plans now to include a restaurant, but visitors will be welcome to bring food from local eateries to complement their beverages.

Ready for a Taste Test?

You can find local brews like these — and many more — at special events throughout the year. Check out the Solstice Party and Beer Breakfast in June at the Gardner Ale House — and then return in August for the Experience Gardner downtown festival and October for the Oktoberfest!

Or swing by Riverfront Park in Fitchburg on June 24 for the Nashua River Brewers Fest, where you’ll get to taste craft beers from across New England!

There will be lots of brews to try, too, at the Johnny Appleseed Craft Beer Festival in downtown Leominster on August 5.

Or plan to visit the Red Apple Farm in Phillipston on Labor Day weekend, and step under the big tent at the Johnny Appleseed Country Fair to wet your whistle during a busy day of listening to fiddle music, watching human tractor pulls and, of course, picking apples!