eat new england

Road Trip to a Rustic Mass. Brewery for an Extraordinary New England IPA and More

One of the highlights of Timberyard Brewing Company's beer offerings is Hindsight, whose perfect balance of bitterness and fruitiness gives some of the great Vermont and Maine IPAs a run for their money

Beers available at Timberyard Brewing Company in East Brookfield, Massachusetts

In some ways, breweries have become the modern-day public houses where people go for food, drink and socializing with friends and strangers alike. Many become the focal point of their neighborhoods, their towns and even their cities.

They also tend to be full of atmosphere – many are found in old mill buildings, warehouses and, in the case of a little-known brewery in central Massachusetts, the former lumberyard that Timberyard gets its name from. And as you might expect, this East Brookfield spot has a ton of space both indoors and out, yet it feels rather intimate, with little nooks and crannies giving it the best of both worlds, along with some great beers and tasty food.

Central Massachusetts has its fair share of breweries, including such well-known spots as Tree House, Wachusett and Wormtown, but scattered among its back roads and town and city centers are many mostly unknown spots to those in the Boston area, like Moon Hill in Gardner, Lost Towns in Gilbertville, Milk Room in Rutland and Oakholm in Brookfield. And while Timberyard sits along busy Route 9, about 10 minutes east of Oakholm, it still has the feel of a place off the beaten path, in part because the area around the East Brookfield/Spencer line is pretty rural for a place that’s far west of Worcester.

Timberyard first opened its doors in 2018, and it still has a bit of a new feel to it despite its extensive use of reclaimed wood. The main building is spacious and airy, and its high wooden ceiling might make you think for a moment that you’re in a barn rather than a brewery. Plenty of tables of all sizes (including communal tables) are set up inside, while the bar counter area for the taproom is instantly appealing with its shingled “roof,” string lights and more of that repurposed wood.

Photos: Beer, Food and Reclaimed Wood at Timberyard Brewing Company

A tiny room sits to the left of the counter, complete with a comfy couch, a coffee table and artwork from local artists on the wall, while the opposite side of the space includes an ancient pickup truck whose bed doubles as a stage for live music. Beer geeks will probably notice the extensive brewing space behind the taproom with the manufacturing area, including a number of tanks among the brewing equipment.

Heading outside the main Timberyard building via a door to the left of the stage (and past another comfy couch) will take you to a vast outdoor area, a perfect spot to fritter away the day during the warmer months. The first space just outside the main building includes picnic tables, more string lights and heat lamps, in case the weather is chilly. The next section brings you to a large, sun-kissed space with more picnic tables (including some with umbrellas) as well as park benches — and this space also has quite a bit of seating under one of the rustic structures within the property if it’s raining. Remnants of the old lumberyard are everywhere, adding to the overall rural vibe of the brewery.

You would expect a brewery in central New England to offer a number of New England IPAs, and Timberyard certainly does have an array of these ever-popular beers. It also sells several types of sours, which may be even hotter than hazy/fruity IPAs these days. There is plenty more to choose from here, however, including (at the time of this writing) lagers, stouts, a porter, a pilsner, a farmhouse saison and a Belgian-style witbier.

One of the highlights of Timberyard’s beer offerings is Hindsight, an extraordinary New England IPA that has a perfect balance of bitterness and fruitiness and gives some of the great Vermont and Maine IPAs a run for their money. Timberyard’s Wolftree stout is also worth trying for its rich combination of chocolate and vanilla notes, while the Munich helles lager is a very drinkable beer that’s perfect for a hot summer day and has quite a bit of sweetness. For those into unusual brews, the Mojito Sour is an oddball beer that includes mint, which isn’t an ingredient you’ll often see in beers, while lime zest gives it a decent amount of tartness without being overwhelming.

Some breweries focus almost exclusively on beer, offering little more than chips and pretzels and maybe a food truck out front, while others have basically become full-service restaurants that happen to make their own brews. Most tend to be somewhere in between, and that includes Timberyard, whose menu has a mix of snacks and meals and can be a one-stop place for lunch or dinner to go along with a drink or two.

For those who are making this a quick visit for a beer before heading to a nearby restaurant, some of the lighter food options available include a soft pretzel, a dry-hopped pickle flight and an app called “Ed’s Spread,” which features pita bread, stuffed grape leaves and a rotating group of dips. If Timberyard is your one and only stop and you want to have a meal with your beer, the mac and cheese is a good option, and pork can be added to it if you’d like. Speaking of pork, The Notorious is a hearty sandwich with smoked pork shoulder and a mix of cheese sauce and BBQ sauce; another sandwich on offer is a chicken salad on a warm pita. If you’re somewhere between considering a snack and eating a full meal, you can also opt for wings or nachos as well.

Timberyard Brewing Company isn’t exactly a household name – yet. But their beers can be found in more and more shops in the Greater Boston area, including their wonderful Hindsight IPA. For now, the brewery itself remains a bit of a hidden gem, tucked away in the hills of central Massachusetts about an hour from downtown Boston. If you’re into road trips, Timberyard is well worth checking out, perhaps as part of a brewery tour that includes several of the beermakers found in this quiet and scenic part of the state.

Timberyard Brewing Company, 555 East Main Street (Route 9), East Brookfield, MA, 01515.

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