For this week's Western Mass Brews we take a trip to a town that is surrounded by Connecticut on three sides: Southwick.
It's home to the Westfield River Brewing Company that has a pretty major project in the works -- that will allow visitors to grab a beer in a new location.
Let's check it out.
Inside this century old barn you'll find a rustic aesthetic and a whole lot of beer.
"We are in the former Chuck's Steakhouse which is now Westfield River Brewing," explains Sergio Bonavita.
Sergio is the majority owner of 12 partners who says that the barn not only sets his brewery apart but he also had to stop making beer at his house.
"I had to yeah because my wife threw me out of the kitchen because I chipped our granite counter with a glass and she said you're out. I told her well I am going to start a brewery. And she said go ahead. So that's where we are if I wanted to make beer it would have to be at this barn," he notes.
Located on a century old dairy farm the idea of local ingredients can be found in many of the brews:
"Southwick is a farming community so we try to source our ingredients locally. We make a beer called White Pumpkin in the fall. I buy all our pumpkins from down the road. So when they are ready I make the beer it wouldn't taste the same if I used can pumpkin,' Sergio adds.
With 10 beers on tap the type of beers range from light to dark, fruity to hoppy. When you ask him what his favorite is:
"They are like children. I have three and I don't have a favorite child. I have 10 beers on tap and I drink based on season and mood. I would say any one of the 6 beers that we always have are my favs," Sergio says.
The standard 6 are a Belgian White, The Dude, a coffee stout, one a single hop IPA, the El Dorado a west coast style IPA and...
We have Big Red Barn named after the Big Red Barn Imperial Red."
But there are also specials:
"Right now we have a German maiboch a very strong malty beer. I do a beer called Peach Basket Saison named after Springfield for the Basketball Hall of Fame and The Peach Basket," explains Sergio.
That is a Belgian style beer aged with peaches.
And to pair with a cold beer is some serious BBQ.
"We offer food in the taproom. A waitress will come to your table take your order and you don't have to go anywhere you order right there. We have a gentleman who moved up from San Antonio, Texas who does our BBQ. His name is Granddaddy Frank's BBQ and it is awesome," adds Sergio.
It's hard not to feel at home in the barn with the string lights and in the colder months the roaring fireplace. If you're unsure of what to have:
"You can come in get a sampler, four 6 oz sampler in a tray and it allows you to try 4 beers before you buy a pint," Sergio says.
Going back to their farm roots the brewery will soon be expanding to this space:
"We are on a farm that existed from 1912 forward. We have 73 acres of cow pasture we are turning it into a beer garden this summer. We are going to try and add more of the farm theme," he notes.
That expansion will include a 5,000 square foot beer garden with live music and a whole lot of beer because Sergio says the goal of Westfield River Brewing is to be an inclusive, relaxed space to pull up a stool and learn about the varieties of beer.
"That's what we want to stress here. We are not your snobby craft brewery they exist but we try to be for everybody."
Sergio says they have bands booked for the outdoor beer garden and the kickoff party for that new area is coming up soon ... on May 20th which is called 'Springfest.'
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