Whenever I travel, one of my favorite rituals is to find a restaurant or bar that serves the local brew on tap. If I can find a taproom where the beer is crafted on the premises – even better. Where I live on Cape Cod, there has been an explosion of craft breweries over the past decade. Cape Codders are swimming in microbrew, and visitors can now stop at a different taproom each day during a typical week-long vacation to explore the local offerings. No matter where you are staying on Cape Cod, there is a pint of local craft brew waiting for you on the counter.
Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery – East Falmouth
Beer Bacon Pizza at Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery. Its bacon, marinated in beer. What’s not to like?
Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery is one of Cape Cod’s newest brew houses, opening in 2019. Located only minutes from where I live, I watched it’s construction from the ground up and eagerly awaited its opening. It did not disappoint. The location and atmosphere are one of the best on Cape Cod. With a post and beam construction and fresh brew served in mason jars, you’ll be momentarily transported from the beach to what feels like a cozy mountainside resort. But make no mistake – Bad Martha’s roots travel all the way across Vineyard Sound to the island where the first batch of craft ale was brewed.
Bad Martha also has outdoor seating with live entertainment, and when the temperature drops low enough, overhead heaters kick on to keep you comfortable. This venue also serves wood-fired pizza and a variety of sandwiches and apps, so feel free to come hungry.
This is a place where you won’t mind hanging for a while. Cornhole boards and camp games are available to keep your group busy – and thirsty.
Aquatic Brewing Company – Falmouth
Aquatic Brewing may not be the sleekest brewery on Cape Cod. There are no ocean views, no mood lighting, and the atmosphere is a bit on the “warehouse-industrial” side, but the beer is first-rate. With about a dozen beers on draft at any one time, you’re sure to find something that suits your tastebuds. I enjoyed their Defendable Draft, an American Pale Ale (6% ABV) during our visit. My wife, Amy, who does not self-identify as a beer drinker, was able to find and enjoy the Hibiscus Shrewd (5.2% ABV), a Saison-style beer.
Aquatic Brewing does not have a kitchen, but they do have a regular food truck rotation. You can also pack in your own food or order from a nearby restaurant. If ordering locally, here are a couple of suggestions:
- Steve’s Pizzeria: Classic pizza joint with takeout pies and subs.
- DJ’s Wings: You guessed it. It’s wings on the menu, along with subs, nachos, salads, and burgers. Basically, all the stuff you would want while drinking beer.
Overall, this is a great place to come for an afternoon and try a few local beers, maybe as a warm-up prior to heading out to dinner.
Aquatic Brewing also offers online ordering of their beers in 16-ounce cans, Growlers and Crowlers. Pick up your supply at the brewery, or have it delivered to the beach house for some high-quality brew during your vacation.
Naukabout – Mashpee
Naukabout has been an established brewing company for some time now. Located in Mashpee, the location is set amidst the trees for a secluded and intimate setting. The taproom itself is rather small, but Naukabout has created an outdoor beer garden consisting of four separate patios to allow guests to enjoy the outdoor space, which is where you will probably want to be during the warmer months of the year.
Naukabout serves a light bar menu including chili nachos, hot dogs, bar pizzas, and a few other items to keep your hunger at bay. They also host a rotation of food trucks during the busier months that are always on-site and ready to provide you with entree-sized dishes and heavy appetizers, so you do not need to find a different restaurant beforehand if you’re game for a casual meal.
The beer at Naukabout is locally made and the offerings include multiple IPA-style beers (IPA, New England IPA, Hazy IPA) that craft beer aficionados have come to enjoy. However, a few creative brews cycle through the taproom, such as their Pina Colada Milkshake IPA, or their Cape Creamsicle Milkshake IPA. On my most recent visit, I tried the Tides Voyage 70 (NE IPA), Cape Kettle Hole (Sour), and Y’all Open (NE IPA). All were very good. If you are not a fan of IPA beers, there are quite a few other options and even the IPAs range from a low of 12 IBUs (mild) to a hop beatdown of 70 IBUs. Hard seltzer and house-made, non-alcoholic root beer is also available.
At Naukabout, you can enjoy pours of 10 ounces or a half-pour of 5 ounces. The smaller pour is a great feature if you want to try multiple beers without getting tanked. My initial review of Naukabout was a bit lukewarm when I first wrote this article. My biggest complaint was the sky-high pricing. Since then, however, their prices have come back to earth, which somehow makes the beer taste better. Naukabout has also recently done a great job with providing entertainment, featuring live bands on the weekends (maybe even more frequent during summer), comedy nights, and even beer pong tournaments. With these changes, I can see myself coming here a lot more often.
Treehouse Brewing Company – Sandwich
The Cape Cod brewery scene had a welcome addition with Treehouse Brewing Company.
A newcomer to the Cape Cod brewery scene for the summer of 2022 is Treehouse Brewing Company. Although well established elsewhere in Massachusetts, Treehouse opened its doors in Sandwich in the Fall of 2021 to much anticipation and excitement. The brews crafted by Treehouse have an almost fanatical following, almost on the order of Heady Topper by Vermont’s Alchemist Beer Company.
But with extreme popularity come some pretty extreme restrictions. You cannot simply decide on a whim to head on over for a draft. Much like a restaurant, reservations need to be made. Unlike a restaurant, you pay for your order ahead of time, online. Visitors can purchase either two or three drafts within a three-hour window. Reservations open up 2.5 hours prior to the start of the window, either 12-3 pm or 3-6 pm.
I thought that it wouldn’t be worth it. Making reservations to have a couple of beers? Purchasing ahead of time? I thought that Treehouse might be a little too drunk off of its own supply. I like beer just as much as the next guy, but I thought, “No beer is that good.” I was wrong.
First, before even taking the first sip, the location is outstanding. Situated on the ocean at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal, the view is amazing and makes for a great beer-drinking session. Seating is ample due to the limited number of reservations and service is quick because everyone has already paid in advance. Inside is a crisp, whitewashed atmosphere with low background music, so guests do not need to yell at each other to have a conversation. There are also no sports games playing on wall-mounted televisions, keeping the noise in the taproom to a minimum.
The beers are truly delicious and there is generally something for everyone. My wife, who is not a beer drinker, found two brews that she genuinely enjoyed. There are about 14 brews on draft at a time, with pours ranging from 10-16 ounces based on alcohol content, which can get up to 8.8% for some of the heartier beers.
Arrive on the earlier side of your session window in order to enjoy the scenery as well as the beer. While not a full service restaurant, Treehouse does have snacks and deli sandwiches that can be ordered on site, or you are welcome to bring your own.
Breweries and bars are not known for being family friendly venues, but it is worth noting that during our visit, we saw several families with small children from newborn up to pre-teen here at Treehouse. Again, the atmosphere is relatively quiet and decidedly chill for a drinking establishment, so you can get away with bringing the kids along with some of their favorite snacks while you enjoy the afternoon.
Pro Tip: After enjoying a couple of beers at Treehouse Brewing Company, head on over to Off the Grid, where you can get the best burgers in Sandwich. This now permanent and year-round eatery started as a Caribbean food bus. The bus is still there, but now features an outdoor bar around it. There is excellent outdoor seating in the summer, and indoor seating in the “gallery,” which feels like someone’s living room. In addition to burgers, Off the Grid has barbecue sandwiches, ribs, Ramen Bowls, and a Mexican taco stand. Highly recommended!
Cape Cod Beer – Hyannis
Of all the existing brew houses on Cape Cod, this is the original. Even so, it’s history only dates back to 2004 when owners Todd and Beth Marcus began brewing, selling, and delivering beer to local restaurants and package stores. Today, the brand has expanded wildly on Cape Cod and you will likely find it on the menus of many restaurants during your vacation. However, despite its earned popularity, you probably won’t find it once you leave Cape Cod, and that is by design. As part of their philosophy of environmental stewardship, Todd and Beth are determined to keep the business local, independently distributing their liquid bread only 50 miles from the brewery.
Cape Cod Beer has a large selection of beers to sample during your visit and has an outdoor beer garden where you can enjoy your tastings. One of my favorite features about Cape Cod Beer is the variety of brew that is offered. While many breweries have focused on creating seven different styles of IPA, Cape Cod Beer has a complete selection of brew styles including classic ales and lagers, porter, stout, fruity mashups, cream ales, Belgian wheat, and yes – IPA is always available. The beer rotation is vast, and your palate will be pleased no matter what style of brew is your favorite. They also usually have a cider on tap for those who don’t like beer.
Food selections usually come from a rotating selection of food trucks, or you are welcome to browse their notebook of local restaurants and have food delivered.
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Barnstable Brewing Company – Hyannis
A flight of beers at Barnstable Brewing is a meal on its own. Specializing in full-bodied, opaque creations that speak to the adventurous beer drinker, you’re sure to leave here with a greater appreciation for what is possible in the brewing arts. On tap are offerings like its “Rizzy” Russian Imperial Stout, Coffee Vanilla Milkshake IPA, cranberry German wheat, and “Sweet Night for S’mores” Stout. But if you like the traditional brew, Barnstable Brewing also has that, too. American Pale Ale, IPA, fruit-infused beers, and a traditional light lager are available for those that just want to sit and enjoy something a bit less risky.
Devil’s Purse Brewing Company – Dennis
Another stop on the brew trail includes Devil’s Purse Brewing Company in South Dennis. This brewery is located in an industrial location and does not offer food to go along with their brews, so it’s more of a quick stop than a lunch or dinner outing with friends.
The beers on tap are European inspired and range from light German Kölsch to hoppy India Pale Ale. They do not have flights available, but they do have half-pours at reasonable prices for those that want to sample several beers in a session.
Another interesting note is that Devil’s Purse is located adjacent to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, making this a great stop on your bike ride along the 25-mile paved bikeway. If you want to enjoy a pair of Cape Cod breweries by bike, click HERE to read the article.
Hog Island Beer Company – Orleans
The courtyard at Hog Island Beer Company makes an inviting hangout after a bike ride on the Cape Cod Rail Trail
Further down Cape Cod in Orleans, Hog Island Beer Company produces some tasty brew along with a few pub favorites like pizza and lobster rolls. The site is also hosting a raw bar with Wellfleet oysters. Hog Island has all of the classic IPA, APA, and pils selections. Their location, spilling distance from the Cape Cod Rail Trail, features a large courtyard with umbrella-topped picnic tables. This is a nice hangout after a ride on the bikeway or as you are driving back from the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches.
Hog Island Beer Company is co-located with the Jailhouse Tavern, their full-service restaurant with a few more options on the menu.
Usually, Hog Island offers games like cornhole and lawn Jenga, but due to COVID-19 precautions in 2020, those activities are off the table for a while.
Provincetown Brewing Company – Provincetown
Cape Cod seems like a small place, but Provincetown just seems so far away. As a result, I haven’t been there and can’t speak to the taproom or its products. Someday though, I’ll get there. In the meantime, visit their website here and see if it sparks your interest on your next trip to the tip of Cape Cod.
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