Eat, Drink and be Merry!
As local brews and concoctions gain in popularity across the country, the Cape doesn’t miss a beat in making a splash in our libation landscape.
There is something about the crispness of the fall weather that beckons to a fresh, frosty glass of thoughtfully, well-made beer. Maybe it is the history of Oktoberfest, maybe it is the tones of amber and cinnamon and nutmeg that glow within a cold glass dripping with anticipation, something about gathering with friends for a pint as the fall leaves slowly drift to the ground says autumn is here.
But today’s brews are not yesterday’s suds. Instead the creativity, care and curation brew masters bring to every batch and variety, validates the application of the word “craft” as it is used to describe the industry.
The efforts of locals who are opening breweries and tasting rooms are being met with an equivalent response from the public. Beers, ales and ciders are not the only elixirs attracting crowds and interest. The Cape has seen a surge in the wine and spirits that are produced and branded locally. All in all, the excuse to gather with friends, families and new acquaintances is becoming a popular activity from the bridge to tip.
In the following pages, settle in, maybe grab an adult beverage and get to know some of the options that are offered locally. Chances are you might find something new to tickle your fancy. Almost surely you will discover places where the passion for high-quality, refreshing beverages set the stage for memorable moments together.
Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery
As you drive down Falmouth Highway, it’s impossible to miss the sign that reads “Bad Martha” with a mischievous mermaid calling you toward the Farmer’s Brewery, luring you in with a siren song. The East Falmouth expansion of Martha’s Vineyard’s Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery officially opened in the fall of 2019. “The idea was to build off of the success of our Edgartown location,” explains General Manager Joshua Flanders. “A location on the mainland, was key because as you can imagine, distributing from an island is very challenging.”
The vision was to create another taproom similar to the one in Edgartown, but with a larger footprint. “We took the same design of our tasting barn in Edgartown and hired the same Amish crew to build this enlarged-post-and-beam barn,” explains owner and founder Jonathan Blum. The back of the building is home to the brewing facility, where the majority of their production takes place.
The brewery offers free samples of their award winning and seasonal beers, like the new Octoberfest and Pumpkin Ale. You can purchase any of their rotating 16 varieties by the glass, a flight paddle, or growlers and crowlers that are all available seven days a week.
Master Brewer Brian Link is the man behind the magic, most recently creating the new Mischievous Mermaid IPA which introduces a brand-new style of beer: Cape Cod Style IPA. Link explains, “We’re adding a distinctive twist to the New England IPA. We use ingredients from the Cape such as local sea salt and hand-picked wild grape leaves harvested on the Vineyard, which make it unique from other New England IPAs.”
Interestingly enough, the team found they had customers coming in to ask if they had anything other than beer–an unusual request for a brewery. In an effort to cater to their customers who were not beer fans, but still wanted to experience the unique atmosphere, Blum reveals, “This past summer we started introducing hard seltzer.” Using all local fruits, buying from at least a dozen local farms in an effort to support local businesses, they created their hard seltzers. “It’s been a huge hit,” shares Blum. The only brewery on the Cape with their own state-of-the-art canning line, the team at Bad Martha decided they’re going to start canning their seltzers–which will now be available for purchase at both locations.
Bad Martha’s mission “Get Bad. Do Good” has been to create excellent beers while being a socially responsible company that puts community first. Buying as many local ingredients as possible from surrounding farms and makers, they donate a portion of profits to hunger-relief charities, and give spent grains to local farmers.
“The East Falmouth location has been a pretty natural expansion,” says Flanders. “What really surprised us all was how well our pizza did.” With the larger kitchen in place, the brewery was able to get approved for pizzas and their countertop brick ovens. “I spent three years working on a pizza recipe,” shares Blum. “Our pizzas are almost as popular as our beer; we have won 12 awards with our beer since 2014 and we haven’t won any awards yet with our pizza, but I hope someday we will,” laughs Blum.
Outside open lawn areas and a Mellow Meadow Wildflower Beer Garden with a walking trail that winds through the wildflowers attracts an enthusiastic public. Picnic tables and two large whimsical, sculptures created by West Tisbury artist Thomas Maley make it ideal for families and dog owners.
Inside the brewery, you’ll find a unique space with soaring beamed ceilings, and as you venture outside the expansive pergola is covered in hanging flowers and greenery from Mahoney’s. The large outdoor fire pit is at the heart of the patio space, as additional outdoor heaters are perfect for taking advantage of cool autumn nights. There’s live music with local bands, trivia nights and fun games. “We really wanted to recreate the same beautiful setting you get in Edgartown at our Falmouth location,” explains Blum. “We try to create a fun organic environment, where it is family, friends, and lots of kids–a place where anyone from their 20s to their 80s can enjoy.”
Cape Cod Winery
“We bring that Cape Cod feeling.”
Cape Cod Winery is a small family run business owned by Pete and Erika Orlandella, who purchased the winery in 2013. “We always loved the Cape Cod area,” shares Erika. While looking to relocate from the Boston region to Cape Cod, their son Joe, who was twelve at the time, stumbled upon the winery listing. “We thought, ‘Why not?’” The couple decided to give it a shot and met with the previous owners who had run the winery since the mid 90s. It took them about two years, but the Orlandellas decided to jump “feet first” into the industry. “We really had no experience,” remarks Erika. “The previous owners helped us and coached us along. We’re forever grateful for them because they truly changed our lives.”
The couple relocated the winery to its forever home on Oxbow Road in Falmouth in 2014; the land it sits on was previously one of the very first strawberry farms in the area during the 1900s, “The land needed a lot of TLC,” explains Erika. It took the couple two years to get the property ready, and in 2016 they reopened Cape Cod Winery.
With now nine different varieties of wine, there is something for everyone to love. Their iconic and most popular Rosé Mermaid Water is a dry rosé filled with fresh strawberry and raspberry aromas, “Our Rosé Mermaid Water has sort of become our flagship, and branding with our mermaid has really helped put us on the map,” the Orlandellas share. “We have more and more people coming in to try that wine, and this year we just launched a sparkling rosé called Mermaid Bubbly.”
To pair with your wine selections, you can purchase multiple charcuterie items, “We also have a really great local lobster dip,” shares Erika. “A local chef makes it exclusively for Cape Cod Winery.” They also partner with a variety of food trucks that visit the winery each day. Most important of all–you even get to keep your Cape Cod Winery wine glass! Throughout the year the winery is host to many fun and casual events from yoga classes to live music. You can also book private events like wedding rehearsal dinners and bridal showers.
Primarily outdoors, overlooking the vineyard you will find an abundance of Adirondack chairs and tables in the sun; they also offer a shady spot under the large post and beam tent placed over white crushed seashells. “For me, it is really about creating a space that people can come to relax and be happy,” says Erika. Pete adds, “The winery, to me, is having drinks with friends and family–that’s what it is all about.” They share, “We really make an effort to create an atmosphere that will take your worries away–a tranquil space. At the end of the day, it is about enjoying a glass of wine, having a laugh and being around the people you love.”
Hog Island Beer Company
Hog Island Beer Company, also known as The Outermost Brewery on Cape Cod, is a hopping (pun intended) outpost in Orleans at the rear of the Old Jailhouse Tavern. Named after an island in Little Pleasant Bay that, according to legend, may still have treasure once buried by Captain Kidd, the brewery offers up several varieties of beer that run the gamut as far as tastes and styles. Owner Mike McNamara, self-proclaimed Hoptomologist, founded the brewery six years ago after a successful career in the beverage business that included representing several products across the spectrum of beer, wine and liquor. Originally a Connecticut native, McNamara spent many summers in Wellfleet and served as a lifeguard for several summers in his early twenties.
Along with partners Mac Gallant and Dave McCleary, the hard-working entrepreneurs fill their days with a myriad of responsibilities throughout the bustling operation. A busy taproom and outdoor beer garden take care of the restaurant arm of the business. Retail sales and local distribution fill up another side of the house, and brewing and canning seem to be activities that occur pretty much around the clock. McNamara says a love for beer, a deep understanding of the industry, combined with the quality of life he and his wife can take advantage of as they raise their young family, made the choice to open a brewery on the cape an easy one.
McCleary’s grandmother opened the original Jailhouse Tavern and the restaurant’s facilities lent itself perfectly to the expansion Hog Island has seen. “I was literally sitting on the stone wall outside the restaurant one day,” McNamara recalls, “and we had been looking for a space to brew, and suddenly I thought, well, maybe this could lend itself to a campus environment that would work.” That vision is the reality today.
The restaurant currently serves food on their outside patio, which is adjacent to the beer garden that is kid and pet friendly, so visitors to the brewery are able to satisfy everyone’s needs and take a moment to enjoy the thoughtfully crafted beers that Hog Island is beginning to get a reputation for.
Plymouth Bay Winery
The longest running winery in Plymouth, Plymouth Bay Winery has been a staple of the area for 27 years. “We’ve been in this physical location for 22,” explains Michael Carr, the current owner. Michael and Pam Carr bought the Plymouth Bay Winery a little over 10 years ago in May of 2011.
Producing anywhere from 11 to 15 varietals of wine, there’s always something new being bottled anytime of the year. Michael offers, “What we like to say is that we’re in the hospitality business. And we just happen to make the best fruit wines too. We want people to ‘experience delicious.’”
Plymouth Bay currently produces over half a dozen fruit wines, ranging from blackberry, apricot, cranberry, cherry, raspberry, blueberry and strawberry. “Peach is our current seasonal wine,” Michael shares.
While the ingredients of the wine itself are not grown by the winery, they work with growers throughout the Northeast. “We get the product either as juice or as flash frozen concentrate,” explains Michael. “We reconstitute the concentrate and then we ferment it from there. We ferment, we blend, we bottle, we label–we do everything here.”
The winery’s catch phrase, “Play with Bay”, denotes an air of interaction. With a bottling facility right on site, visitors get the chance to peer through glass doors and catch a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes production. “Guests can try five of our wines and get a keepsake glass. They also get to try some of our wine jellies and sauces.” These wine jellies and sauces (and chocolates!) gained the winery a spot on “Chronicle” as well as “Good Morning America”. Michael describes a few different combinations of flavor mash-ups, “We’ve made a Concord Grape wine which is what we pair with peanut butter pretzels. We also have people dip Nilla Wafers in our strawberry, cherry or raspberry wines, and it tastes like a holiday cookie.”
For the curious, Plymouth Bay added a Recipe Playbook on their website that details the ingredients and flavor profiles that go into making each wine unique. “We tell people when they visit: ‘We hope you like our wines; we hope you like our wine jellies.’” Michael says. “But you should always enjoy the experience; you’ve decided to sit and take your time to visit us. We want to make sure you have a great time.”
Truro Vineyards + South Hollow Spirits
We’re sitting with our toes in the grass, sipping and slurping fresh Wellfleet oysters and frozen spiced rum mudslides. Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” echoes across the great lawn while acrobats gracefully work aerial silks from twenty feet in the air. If this was a dream it would be a darn good one, but it’s just another day at Truro Vineyards. “The circus came to town!” Kristen Roberts announces to us with her trademark smile. Kristen, who is the winery’s ringleader, is making sure that everyone is having a good time—from patrons partaking in wine tastings and folks noshing from the food trucks, to the D.J and local kids working as greeters.
After closing hours on Sundays in July and August, “Sunday Funday” kicks off for two hours of everything life should be about—good food and drink, meeting new friends and listening to music. Although clowns and acrobats aren’t the norm, they fit in as well with Truro Vineyards’ sense of adventure and fun.
Kristen’s father David Roberts kicked the adventure off back in 2007 when, as the family tells it, “Dad took a bike ride down the road, and returned with a winery.” Since then, the business has grown just as fast as their vines. Truro Vineyards now boasts a large scenic outdoor tasting and events pavilion, a spacious indoor venue for rehearsal dinners, weddings and fundraisers, a greatly expanded gift shop chock full of local art and food artisans, a 2,000 square foot distillery, the Crush Pad food truck serving grub with gourmet twists (courtesy of Truro’s treasured Black Fish Restaurant), and the addition of many more outdoor dining areas to keep up with the crowds.
Our mudslides hail from The Hollow, a bar within a shack, loaded from top to bottom with the wines of the day, chosen each week by the Roberts family. Thanks to the incredible talents of head winemaker Milan Vujnic from Croatia, their inventory is expansive and currently offers seven red and seven white varietals, as well as a sparkling Brut Rosé, a light bodied Blush, a dry Rosé and a perfect-for-punch Cranberry Red.
Wines are offered in an array of vessels—from elegant bottles adorned with captivating Cape Cod artwork, to collectible lighthouse shaped bottles and even “beach ready” cans.
The man behind the cocktails is Kristen’s brother David Jr., who is the wizard of South Hollow Spirits, Cape Cod’s first legal distillery since prohibition. Dave’s line of spirits is expanding almost as fast as his awards and accolades, and currently include a Twenty Boat Spiced Rum, which is made with spices from their neighbor, the Atlantic Spice Company (and makes a killer frozen drink, did we mention that?), a white rum, an amber rum and Dry Line Gin, made with Truro-grown red cedar juniper berries and angelica root. Although Dave stays more behind the scenes, he too makes sure everyone is having a great time by constantly inventing new and innovative cocktails that highlight his efforts. Many variations of his cocktails can be found on the South Hollow Spirits’ website.
Speaking of websites, all of the wines of Truro Vineyards, as well as most of their gift shop, can be purchased online, where oenophiles can sign up for their Wine Club, which has more perks than a Grammy winner’s swag bag. Club members can enjoy getting wines in the mail, receive free wine tastings for two during any visit, private VIP tasting areas and 20% off just about anything for purchase. It seems like the Robert’s family has figured it all out. Their two businesses, Truro Vineyards and South Hollow Spirits, are thriving. Visitors from afar flock to the fun, while the Truro locals are grateful to have such a philanthropic and celebrated family in their own backyard. As Stevie Nicks sings, “Lightening strikes, maybe once, maybe twice.” ~ Tommy Dott
Dr. Greg Horning and Dr. Alex Bergen met during a summer program at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in 2011. Now after years of studying marine biology and marine geophysics, respectively, the pair has decided to apply the acquired knowledge gained while brewing beer as a hobby into a real-life business. Newly opened at 661 Main Street in Falmouth, Aquatic Brewing offers between six and twelve types of fresh beer that will appeal to a wide variety of drinkers. Malty, hoppy, light and refreshing, German style and full-bodied; they are all styles that appeal to Horning and Bergen as brew masters. The new facility includes a 1,500-square-foot tasting room and a capacity to produce about 155 gallons of beer at a time.
Horning cites the freshness of the product as being one of the major benefits for those local enough to visit the brewery. Not available commercially in stores, customers can pick up cans or crowlers of beer that offers as Horning puts it, “The peak of quality, going from brewery to glass.”
Horning recognizes the invaluable moment the Cape is currently having when it comes to local brews when he says, “The Cape is brewing as a beer destination.” Every bit of that pun is intended. Acknowledging their love of the ocean and the special place the Cape has in their lives, the partners named the brewery in tribute of the environment that surrounds us. Their unique mash-up of a nautilus and a footed beer glass that makes up their logo is just a taste of what these bright brewers creating.
Tree House Brewing Company-Sandwich
The much-anticipated Sandwich location of the award-winning brewery based in Charlton, Massachusetts is finally open, sort of. Online ordering will get you product picked up during curbside-only hours. The future plans of a tasting room and everything fun that comes along with it are hopefully unveiled in the near future and available in 2022. One thing is for sure, for those that willingly traveled miles and miles for the unique experience Tree House offers at their wooded Central Massachusetts location (not to mention the heady brews beloved by so many), the thought of this brewery’s creativity and high-quality delivery of product on the shores (literally) of Cape Cod is enough to keep the dream alive. Until then, it will have to be the stuff of dreams: a can of Tree House, a warm, salty breeze off of the Cape Cod Canal, the enticing smells from a gourmet food truck, and the deep belly laughs of friends who are enjoying the opportunity to hang together. Cheers to the future!