New discoveries. Old favorites. Current recommendations.
Local beer, just getting better.
Berkshire Brewing Co., So. Deerfield, MA
Still the undisputed king of local beer. Started in 1994, these beers are ubiquitous in just about all of New England now. There's a reason why. If you haven't enjoyed a Berkshire Brew in a while, I highly suggest revisiting their Drayman's Porter or their Imperial Stout (way ahead of its time) or their Traditional Pale Ale (soon to be the Hoosic Tunnel Amber, but still the same great beer, as I understand it). No Hype, just great beer.
People's Pint, Greenfield, MA
Ever since opening its doors in 1997, the People’s Pint has brewed over 70 styles of beer, using only the best fresh ingredients – local whenever possible, just like their pub menu. Freshness counts with these guys, our most recent delivery of their ever-evolving Double IPA came to us within 18 hours of bottling!
Brewmaster Jack, Northampton, MA
Based right in our own backyard here in Florence, Tyler came strong out of the gate with offerings of a classic German-style lager, a balanced, yet potent, imperial IPA, and a superb, innovative rye Porter. The move to twelve once bottles for the core lineup has been a huge success. He continues to hone his skills, and his limited releases are gaining the impatient anticipation usually reserved for the big boys with more national recognition.
Abandoned Building, Easthampton, MA
Matt gained a solid reputation locally for his Saisons, and although we currently only carry his Nightshade Belgian Stout and Odin Quad, we are expecting big things in the near future. Keep your eyes on the cooler for additional offerings, and in the meantime give the Nightshade a pour.
Lefty's Brewing, Greenfield, MA
Bill and his ever-expanding crew continue to impress with their lineup of English-inspired beers. His brown Porter, Irish Stout, and classic Pale Ale stand out for me. My new favorite is their Bean’s Brew Imperial Coffee Stout, and we are starting to receive cases from a pretty exciting limited-release barrel aged series, too. Currently the BA Scotch Ale and a BA version of the Archie’s Imperial Porter – keep a look out for more to follow.
Wormtown Brewing, Worcester, MA
I remember when Ben called me at Cooper's Corner to say "We're coming to Northampton for a tasting, and we heard you support local beer, and can we bring you a case of our Be Hoppy? It's an IPA." It was 2010 or ‘11. I said sure, but I remember being skeptical. A brewery called Wormtown? With a beer called Be Hoppy? Well, I'd try anything once. Too funny. Now it's next to impossible to get enough to last a weekend on the shelf. Hopefully their recent expansion into a new facility will keep the Be Hoppy in stock for good. A guy can dream. In between shipments of Be Hoppy, keep your eyes peeled for releases of Hopulence, Buddha's Hand, Sweet Tats, et al.
Stoneman Brewing, Colrain, MA
What a concept! This brewery is almost entirely "farm-to-table." I first learned of Stoneman from the proprietor of the Elbow Room, a cool coffee shop on Route 9 in Williamsburg. Justin owns a farm in Colrain (a homestead, really, but it might as well be a farm...), and grows as much of his own ingredients as he can manage. What he can't produce is procured from other local heroes like Four Star Farms in Northfield and Valley Malt in Hadley (it should be noted here that all these guys use Four Star and Valley Malt as much as their production allows). He offers farm shares and monthly pickups. In 2014, his first full year of production, Stoneman produced forty one styles of beer. He uses a one barrel brewing system, so all of his batches are limited by definition. We came on board in early 2015, and take in three to five rotating styles near the beginning of each month (after the CSA members have had their chance to pick up their shares at the end of the previous month). Current crop includes Zzz IPA, Dragonbeam IPA, Heather Kissed Scotch Ale, and King Korby Imperial Stout.
Jack's Abby Brewing, Framingham, MA
Jack seems to have been born brewing great beer. He trained in Germany and cut his teeth with Boston Beer Works. Jack's Abby makes only lagers, German-inspired, but heavily influenced by American innovation and the craft beer movement on the whole. These guys shot out like a rocket. By the time they caught my attention they had already retired several beers (like the Red Tape Lager - think it's hard to navigate the ins and outs of opening a brewery?) and settled in to a core of Jabby Brau Session Lager, Smoke & Dagger Black Lager, and Hoponius Union India Pale Lager, the last of which has helped spawn a new category of beer, the IPL. Not the first, but the first to be so hugely successful. They've nearly doubled in size every year, and they continue to produce world class beer. Folks look forward to their Kiwi Rising Double IPL, Framinghammer Baltic Porter (and its many variants), and many others.
And don’t forget to try these other great local beers and ciders:
New City Brewing, Easthampton, MA
Fort Hill Brewing, Easthampton, MA
Slumbrew, Somerville, MA
Clownshoes, Somerville, MA
Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge, MA
Mayflower Brewing, Plymouth, MA
Newburyport Brewing, Newburyport, MA
Bentley Brewing Co., Southbridge, MA
Pretty Things, MA
Bantam Cider, Cambridge, MA
Artifact Cider, Springfield, MA
West County Cider, Colrain, MA
Also, we are hearing about several new breweries soon to be opening their doors from Turner’s Falls, Northampton, and Florence… Stay tuned!
Wes, State Street Wines & Spirits
I am a huge fan of Sauternes, perhaps the most famous of dessert wines, owing to the complexity of flavors which accompany the sweetness brought on by the benevolent, yet funny-looking Botrytis mold. If you are looking for a new option for this type of wine, I recommend our Chateau les Justice 2006 Sauternes 375 ml — $19.99 and our Chateau Partarrieu 2006 Sauternes 375 ml — $31.99.
The STUMP JUMP Vintage 2010 "Sticky" 375 ml — $9.99, is an exceptional addition to the more affordable end of our dessert wine selections. The d'Arenberg Winery in Adelaide Australia uses Botrytis, the "noble rot," to reduce the water content of their grapes — Chardonnay (60%) Riesling (25%), Semillon (9%) and Pinot Gris (6%), just as French winemakers use it on their Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadette grapes in the Sauternes region of Bordeaux. Serve the Stump Jump Sticky with some of the dishes traditionally paired with Sauternes — Roquefort , Bleu, Stilton or Gorgonzola, fois gras, a fruit flan, or crème brulee. Or, try it on its own after dinner, and see how the peach, caramel and subtle white pepper flavors and aromas open up over time to flavors of toffee, apricot, mandarin orange and brown sugar
Summers Napa Valley Charbono Villa Andriana Vineyard Estate Bottled 2008 — $24.99. This is the rarity I look for constantly — the new world wine with an old world feel, some time under its belt, and a grape varietal that is off the beaten path. According to Jancis Robinson, Charbono is a grape that hails from the French Alps and is also known as Corbeau, or "Deuce Noir." I tasted "tar notes" — the sensation some aged red wines exhibit which I describe as a tantalizing layer of richness and spice reminiscent of coffee and dark chocolate. I decanted this wine (it does throw a sediment) and observed its firm tannins develop into a plush steak wine with raspberry notes and velvety depth.
Mark, State Street Wines & Spirits
Mazzoni Barbera ($14.99) — This is an excellent Piedmont red wine made from the Barbera grape. It displays great balance between dark fruit and mild tannins, drinking quite easily while maintaining nice complexity and a long finish.
Jefferson's Bourbon ($34.99) — A great display of modern bourbon, almost dangerously smooth with nice notes of vanilla and toffee. This is an excellent introduction to bourbon as a spirit for those with a preconceived notion of bourbon as a big scary word that means "harsh," or as an alternative for those that are stuck in a rut of normally drinking Knob Creek and Makers Mark.
Rodenbach Original Ale (Six-pack is $15.99 + dep.; 11.2 oz. single is $2.95 + dep.) — Sour beers are a growing trend in the United States, with their origins stretching back to the humble beginnings of beer making. Long and spontaneous fermentation (exposure to wild yeasts) leads to a quite different flavor profile than what most people associate with beer. This particular beer is a great expression for adventurous beer drinkers or fans of wine or cider to take home and expand their horizons.
Rick, State Street Wines & Spirits
Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008 ($16.99) — This is a very nice Rioja with a little coffee and maybe cinnamon on the nose followed by black cherries flavors. Soft tannins throughout with a little blueberry on the finish.
Chalone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 ($14.99) — From Monterey County. With hints of tobacco and black cherry on the nose, this wine progresses to a soft mouth feel and flavors of spices and raspberries. I enjoyed this with a homemade roasted red pepper and mushroom pizza but nearly finished the bottle (and the pizza was long-gone!)
Rich, State Street Wines & Spirits
Pale gold in color with scents of pineapple and other tropical fruits. The tropical notes and white flower aromas follow through on the palate and combine with great minerality and a good deal of lemon zest to make it refreshing and lively on its long finish. Pair with shellfish or paella. Spanish white are unfamiliar to lots of people, but give this a try and you’ll be back for another bottle, I am sure. — $13.99
Estate grown, this GSM (Grenache 30%, Syrah 40%, Mouvedre 30%) is loaded with lush red fruits, layered spices, licorice, smoke and hints of bacon (yes, bacon) on its medium to full bodied palate. Fabulous with beef or roasted chicken. — $19.99
Heidi, State Street Wines & Spirits
Marius White from Michel Chapoutier (France)
Straw color with green highlights, perhaps white peaches on the nose and nice, ripe fruit with a good balance of acidity in the mouth. This is a great everyday white for all seasons. At under $10, this could easily be one of your house whites. Share it with friends.
Cotes du Rhone Parallele 45
You'll love the taste of red fruits, spices, licorice and pepper. It goes really well with grilled or roasted meats or just by itself. — $12.99
Southern Tier Imperial Chocolat
This will warm you from the inside-out. The hops and chocolate balance each other very nicely.Creamy and luscious, but at 22 oz. and a fairly high alcohol content, you'll probably want to share it.
Kelly, State Street Wines & Spirits
Kung Fu Girl Riesling (Washington State)
A beautifully balanced riesling. Tangy, semi-dry with a touch of apricot and peach sweetness. If you think you don't like rieslings, give this one a shot. Pair it with spicy curries, sushi, and Asian-style barbeque. — $11.99
Inkberry Shiraz Cabernet (Australia)
A full-bodied blend of 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon with an appropriate name for the unbelievably dark and inky color of this wine. Easy drinking with blackberries and plums complemented by hints of vanilla and spice with a soft, smooth finish. Pair it with slow-cooked game meat, grilled steak, and sauteed mushrooms. — $12.99
Stone Imperial Russian Stout (California)
Make no mistake—this beer is massive. The aroma and taste are dominated by bittersweet cocoa and coffee, with slight hints of anise and black currants. Full-bodied, silky smooth, and balanced. Pair with oysters, coffee-rubbed pork, cheesecake, and chocolate. This beer tastes great fresh and only gets better with age! Drink one now and drink another in six months to a year! Repeat.
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (California)
Like the fish itself, this India Pale Ale is known for its initial "sting" of hop bitterness but also prized for its delicious bright flavors of apricot, peach, and mango. A light-bodied, crisp, and easy drinking IPA that is perfect anytime of the year. Pair with anything, from pizza to seafood, such as steamed mussels and lightly fried fish. — $11.99
Mike, State Street Wines & Spirits