As fans of both quality beer and our local brewery, Future-Husband and I were thrilled at the chance to be a part of Tree House’s three-year anniversary celebration — to the extent that we rescheduled our frantic wedding-venue search so we could be there.
While I participated as an attendee, Future-Husband volunteered all day, heroically manning a tap station in the old mini-barn (pre-expansion, now soon to be devoted to tastings). This meant that he saw relatively little of the carnival of beer, BBQ, and bands occupying a hilltop in Monson, MA on a sunny Saturday in June.
Enter your humble guest-blogger.
I arrived and presented my ticket at 11:30 am, the beginning of check-in — luckily securing one of the last side-of-the-road spots nearby. Volunteers in red Tree House shirts were cheerily directing the pirouettes of traffic along the country road, and a sizeable line had already formed at the registration tents.
After dropping off some iced coffee for my hardworking man, I headed over to join the line. The atmosphere was one of cautious excitement, mixed with a bit of trepidation. How was this going to work? Was the beer going to be that good? Do they have water?
Tree House regulars assured newcomers about the quality of the beer, and the line grew as friends caught up and introductions were made. There was a large contingent of designated drivers — a practice that was strongly encouraged at ticket purchase — and more than a few curious glances around at the bucolic surroundings.
This is where great beer comes from?
Soon enough, we had secured bracelets, tasting glasses, and t-shirts, and immediately staked out any and all available shade under the two large tents, replete with banquet seating. We inspected our tickets — each full attendee got twelve, enough to mollify a Viking.
And then…we waited.
Some announcements were made: we’re really excited to have you here, no, we’re not pouring until 1 pm, yes, the beer is going to be great. People clustered in their original pairs and groups, occasionally cruising for snacks from the two food trucks or water from the orange coolers. There was a lot of perusing the list of pours and checking phones; Untapped was frantically scanned for mention of brews like Truth and Cask Julius.
As excitement mounted, people began to talk more across group lines — Where are you coming from? What’s your favorite so far? Which one are you getting first?
I met a happily-married doctor who was temporarily released from baby-caring duties as an early Father’s Day gift; he heard about Tree House from a friend, who had been a patron since their Brimfield days.
Meanwhile, BT’s smoker started wafting mouth-watering scents that further seasoned the anticipation.
Then: the welcome announcement.
Next: the stampede.
It was a polite stampede, but I still ended up in the longest line — the one for Jjjuliuisss. And when you’re waiting for the first taste of Tree House on their third anniversary, every second registers. A few people broke ranks, heading for shorter lines of Green and Haze, but I stood firm.
And I am so glad I did.
That first sip of lush, citrusy brew made all right with the world. You could feel the tension leaching out of the crowd as people got their first glasses and gathered to savor the experience. The opening band, a local act from Monson called The Pencils, launched into its set with an eclectic mix of alt rock covers, and the party had begun!
I’m not going to run a review of all of their offerings that day — that’s Future-Husband’s forte. But a few that stood out for me were:
- Very Green — both fruity and malty, and it ends with a bite. Green with attitude!
- Truth — the bourbon is strong with this one; just enough smooth, rich chocolate so you don’t mind the missing nose-hairs
- Double Shot with Dark Cherries and Cocoa — I don’t know how else to say this: I want this in bed with me.
As the afternoon rolled on, the guest of honor made his appearance: BT’s pig, of course! People formed a ravenous circle that spiraled out into a crazed line….which, soon enough, tangled with the pour lines. Fortunately, the Tree House crew was on the case, and the line was efficiently shuffled over to a much saner location.
We filled our plates and — barring an overly-enthusiastic mustard application that doused five people down the line — everyone seemed in fine spirits. Regular patrons were satisfied and triumphant; newcomers were still slightly agog. I shuttled some food to the still standing, no-breaks-taking Future-Husband once I’d found his lovely tap-line in the shade.
Taking a breather in the little barn provided a fun view of the festival, as people retreated from the heat and happened upon this oasis of Julius, Lights On, and Eureka with Citra. Lots of “wine-drinkers” suddenly discovered that Eureka in particular was the perfect refreshing antidote to the punishing haze outside. Members of the band(s) gulped down water, and Julius, in between sets before launching back out into the glare.
And the stories flowed, along with the beer.
The typical New England reserve had broken; the scene resembled a massive family reunion, complete with lawn games. Music, talk, and laughter blended together, thicker than barbeque smoke, as people savored the summer’s day and the sun began to tip towards the horizon.
It became clear that there was no way this party was stopping exactly at 5 pm — but the tap lines did have to be shut down. People chose their lines with a mix of anticipation and regret; many regarded their plentiful remaining tickets with a rueful eye. The arrival of Double Shot with Cinnamon Rolls was greeted with a roar of pure joy from the crowd, and it was more tasty than was fair.
Designated drivers wrangled their charges, friends were called to make pick-ups, and gradually, the clouds of guests melted away.
I stayed for the after-party, as Future-Husband tirelessly powered forward with clean-up help. As the crew gathered, exhausted and thrilled at their success, it became clear that Tree House is more than just a brewery that makes phenomenal beer.
It is a family.
Every single person in that crew works for the joy of contributing to something great. They are proud of their work and they are so happy to share it with others, and it showed that day, all the way through.
This was a truly special event, and one that I’ll cherish the memories of for a very long time…until the next anniversary rolls around.