Along the Connecticut River lies Springfield and its verdant rural outlying vicinity known as Pioneer Valley, visited April ’05, then again October-December ‘07. Perfect for winter skiing, summer recreation, and stream fishing, this tree-lined New England vacation getaway makes for a relaxing pilgrimage any time of season.
Easternmost town of Amherst, home to University of Massachusetts, offers midtown hotspot AMHERST BREWING, a brick-walled brewpub with maroon front deck, centralized J-shaped bar, front-rear brew tanks, wooden vats, and left dining, opened August ‘97.
During initial April ’05 tarriance, discovered light citric-hopped sweet-corned pecan-almond-seduced Honey Pilsner, quince-sweet grapefruit-soured sharp-hopped coriander-spiced North Pleasant Pale Ale, punctiliously pine-hopped lemon-dried grapefruit-embittered apple-pear-tinged Cascade IPA, and tame melon-nectar-tangerine-fruited Incinerator Doppelbock, four fine libations representing the soft end.
Nut-roasted coffee-burnt tea-honeyed Massatucky Brown, earthy vegetal-bound cocoa-dried mocha-bound Chocolate Porter, and robust coffee-roasted, black cherry-bruised Two Sisters Imperial Stout will please most dark beer aficionados. Special soft-textured cask conditioned Old #8 Anniversary Ale brought forth alcohol-soaked cherry-ripe inertia.
On Columbus Day ’07 Amherst revisit, sat alongside brewer Mike Yates and quaffed three assorted beauties, including lemony tangerine-fruited floral-honeyed white-wined Heather Ale (curiously brewed with Scottish heather instead of hops). Dank brown-sugared chocolate-cored earthen-peated fungi-dried Half In The Bagpipe Scotch Ale and creamy coffee-beaned, black chocolate-woven, walnut-roasted, wood-charred, lactose-aided Puffers Smoked Porter were full-bodied delights.
Dryly bittersweet pumpkin-spiced fig-sugared cherry-pitted apple-brightened pecan-nuanced Lewmeister Oktoberfest was efficient autumnal treat.
Bought Sherwood Forest Sheriff’s IPA, Sherwood Forest Archer’s Ale, Pennichuck 2-6-0 Mogul Railyard Lager, and Paper City India’n Pale Ale at nearby Four Seasons Liquor on Route 9 in Hadley.