A line is a good sign when looking for something to eat or drink. Waiting is an inconvenience, but when it comes to food and beverage is also emblematic of a product worth sticking around for. There’s a reason you can quickly get in and out of a McDonald’s.
Several New England beers have established themselves as worth waiting for, and devotees don’t shy away from trumpeting them. Kyle Vogt, a realtor from North Andover, uses the words “incredible” and “luscious” to describe offerings from his favorite brewery.
Every few weeks, Vogt makes the 90-minute drive from his home to Monson, site of Tree House Brewing Company.
“It’s just sort of a quintessential New England spot,” says Vogt. “And the beer is better than almost any beer you can get anywhere in the country.”
Vogt admits there is some level of mystique. Open Thursday through Saturday, Tree House lies 20 miles from the Mass. Pike, the nearest highway. The beer is not sold in retail stores. Customers stand online to fill growlers of brews with names like Julius, Haze, and Green. You can’t buy Tree House products in Boston.
“It’s mind-bogglingly incredible,” Vogt says of the beers.
A recent dinner at Fort Point’s Row 34 set Tree House’s rustic brews in a room of steel and concrete. An hors d’oeuvres course and four succeeding dishes were each paired with a Tree House standout: scallop crudo with the flagship IPA, Julius; seafood suquet with a double-IPA, Haze.
There are a lot of India pale ales in Tree House’s catalog, something that’s both unsurprising and differentiating. Tree House’s IPAs can be described as “juicy,” more citrus than bitter, a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ. Tree House is among a handful of New England breweries — Vermont’s Hill Farmstead and Fort Point’s Trillium also come to mind — that share this quality,
“Juicy is a term we love,” says Nate Lanier, one of the brewery’s cofounders. “We get comments occasionally that our beer is too much like juice and not enough like beer. What a wonderful compliment.”
At the dinner, the Tree House beers live up to their billing. The IPAs drip with the taste of fresh oranges, while Good Morning, a stout brewed with maple syrup, demands a longer look. There’s a tiny sample of a beer called Truth, an homage to Paul Pierce, perhaps, but also a preview of a soon-to-be robust barrel program.
Lanier founded Tree House along with Damien Goudreau and Dean Rohan. The founders, along with Lanier’s wife, Lauren, and assistant brewer Brendan Prindiville, struggle to keep up with the thirsty hordes.
There’s an expansion in the works for early this year. With a larger brewhouse, Lanier and company plan to brew as much Julius in the first three weeks as they have in the three years since the brewery started. Obsessed with freshness, the brewers say an expansion into cans will actually keep the beer fresher. Lanier would one day love to expand into Boston, “But I’d hate to make a promise I, and our small brewery, can’t keep.”
Tree House Brewing Co., 160 East Hill Road, Monson, 413-523-2367.
Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.