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
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.
Naukabout has been an established brewing company for some time now, but their taproom opened up only recently, in 2018. 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 in the summer, anyway, especially in 2020 with social distancing measures in effect.
Naukabout does not serve food itself but hosts a rotation of food trucks 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 the typical IPA style beers served at most craft breweries. However, there are a few creative brews that cycle through the taproom such as their Pina Colada Milkshake IPA, or their Cape Creamsicle Milkshake IPA. If you are not a fan of IPA beers, there are a few other options and even the IPA’s range from a low of 12 IBUs (mild) to a hop beatdown of 70 IBUs.
Personally, I rarely go there anymore. I once spent $9 on a 10-ounce snifter of beer and was immediately turned off. The beer is very good quality, but I expect a full pint for that much money.
Cape Cod Beer
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.
Barnstable Brewing Company
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
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
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
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.