By SHONNA RYAN
The world seems to have gone crazy for the craft beer scene. New microbreweries, brew pubs, and beer festivals seem to be popping up every year. Even home brewing has grown tremendously in popularity.
For those not into the scene, it can come across as a lot of snobbery about hops steeped in hipster culture. And the craft beer industry can indeed be that at times. But it can also be a fun way to become immersed in a pastime over 5,000 years old. Breweries and craft beer bars are usually fun environments that provide live music, games, food, and a chance to interact with the community (something that has become a bit lacking in society).
“Beercation” has become a term for those who plan their travels around today’s boisterous craft beer scene. Most people think of Portland, Oregon or perhaps Burlington, Vermont when they think of taking a Beercation. But New Bedford has actually become a great spot for the traveling beer-lover (even if you are only traveling down the street).
Here are five “must visit” spots for your New Bedford Beercation:
Moby Dick is currently the only brewery actually in New Bedford city limits, and it is still fairly new to the downtown scene. But with a prime location in the historic district it is a “must stop” spot, and their beer offerings will fit any palate. As with most breweries these days, they have their fair share of IPA offerings, but my favorite brew on tap is actually the “Ishm-ale”, and Irish-style amber that has plenty of malty flavor but is also very drinkable.
The Pour Farm has been THE craft beer spot in New Bedford for years. There is always an incredible list of craft brews on the menu, and it rotates frequently to ensure there’s always something new on tap. The staff is a large part of what makes PFT worth checking out; they are always friendly, approachable, and highly knowledgeable about what’s being poured. It’s a cozy space that invites beer lovers to sit and sip for hours. It gets quite busy certain nights and has cool events worth checking out, but for my part I love meeting a friend there for a couple seasonal brews and an appetizer on a quiet afternoon.
If you love the beer scene in Portland, ME or Portsmouth, NH, then you will definitely want to check out Rose Alley Ale House. Like the aforementioned cities, New Bedford shares that old New England harborside feel, and Rose Alley is the paradigm of this aesthetic. The stone building has all the charm of cozy fishing port pub and has a nice variety of craft beers on tap. If you’re the sort of crazy craft connoisseur who uses Untappd, you are sure to find some of those brews you’ve been hunting for getting poured at Rose Alley.
Buzzards Bay Brewing opened in 1998, and since that time it has been the beer-lover’s pride of the South Coast region. Located in beautiful, rural Westport it is about a 20-30 minute drive from New Bedford. If you are on a Beercation it is 100% worth the gorgeous drive to drink their farm-fresh beers while taking in the breathtaking views of their grounds. However, if you’re sticking to New Bedford, you can order Buzzards Bay Beer at pretty much any downtown bar, including the aforementioned Pour Farm Tavern and Rose Alley Ale House. Heck, you can even get Buzzards Bay on draft at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center if you happen to be catching a show.
Greasy Luck originally opened as a brewery, but they decided to make room for their happening music and restaurant scene and moved the brewing equipment out. This doesn’t prevent them from focusing on offering a nice array of beers on their many taps, and the menu and music at Greasy Luck will make you glad you decided to make it part of your Beercation.
The ferry in downtown New Bedford runs to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. If you are looking to extend your Beercation, consider grabbing the ferry to Bad Martha on the Vineyard, or Cisco Brewers in Nantucket.
You can also take a short drive over to the region’s newest brewery, Canned Heat in Fall River. I haven’t made it over there yet, but it’s on my calendar for next week.
Speaking of calendars, beer lovers won’t want to miss the annual SCBA Oktoberfest! This year’s Oktoberfest will be hosted at New Bedford’s Pier 3 on October 13th and will feature live music, food vendors, and of course, lots of local beer.