A toast to Plymouth’s beer, wine and spirit tasting roomsBy Riley Stefano | Photography Dan Cutrona
Plymouth’s craft beverage scene has come of age in recent years, with established brands expanding their operations and newer businesses diversifying the array of products crafted with care in America’s hometown. Local tasting rooms offer visitors a chance to meet the brewers and vintners, learn how the drinks are made and enjoy a sampling of the local brews. While you don’t need to have a trained palate to appreciate the depth of flavor inside a bottle of artisanal wine, beer or spirit, it helps to have an adventurous attitude. From hoppy ales and robust spiced rums to fruity dessert wines, these five tasting rooms are bursting with local flavor.
DIRTY WATER DISTILLERY
Friday: 2-7 p.m.
Saturday: 12-6 p.m.
Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
10 Water Street, 508-927-3260
Located within a garage-like building on the corner of Water Street in downtown Plymouth, you could drive right by the Dirty Water Distillery headquarters and not even know it. Those who are in the know step through the distillery’s intricate copper door and discover a world of creatively crafted liquors and spirits.
The tasting room at this micro distillery is industrial in nature and overlooks the production area. Images of a sly-looking devil can be spotted peeking out from behind stills, on shelves and even in a plethora of wooden masks above the entryway. The company mascot evolved after owners Steve Neidhardt and Petras “Pepi” Avizonis tried out their grandfather’s recipe for krupnikas, a traditional Lithuanian alcoholic drink that combines a base alcohol with pure honey and nearly a dozen spices, like vanilla, saffron, cardamom and nutmeg. They named the deceptively sweet 80-proof liquor Velnias, after the Lithuanian word for devil. It was an instant hit with customers and is now one of their flagship products.
People who visit the distillery during tasting hours can sample Dirty Water’s products for free, from crisp cranberry gin and vodkas flavored by the peels of clementine oranges or slices of fresh ginger, to a single malt whisky. For more adventurous consumers there’s coffee vodka, made with freshly ground Colombian coffee, and bacon vodka infused with cooked bacon. Yes, you read that right, bacon. In short, the tastings at Dirty Water Distillery are anything but boring—if you can take the heat.
INDEPENDENT FERMENTATIONS BREWING
Thursday and Friday: 3 – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 12-7 p.m.
Sunday: 12-4 p.m.
127 Camelot Drive, Plymouth, 508-746-4634
“It’s a hobby gone wild,” chuckles Paul Nixon when prompted to explain how Independent Fermentations Brewing, also known as IndieFerm, came to be. He began brewing in an old farmhouse behind his Plymouth home and was soon brewing “more varieties of beer than one man should ever drink alone.” He decided to share his craft brews with the community. IndieFerm was opened in November of 2015 with an emphasis on independent brews, many of which are sourced from and crafted with local products. Coming up with a name for the business was a no-brainer for Nixon, “we want to be known for our beer, not our marketing,” says Nixon. However, he has had a little fun coming up with interesting and unorthodox names for his craft brews, such as The Boat for Sale Pale Ale, which was named soon after Nixon decided to sell his 22-foot boat on Craigslist. The company’s bestseller is IndieFerm’s Honey Tripel, a Belgian monastery-style tripel that is made using Massachusetts honey instead of sugar. Visitors to the IndieFerm tasting room can enjoy Honey Tripel and a few other varieties of the local brew with the purchase of a $7 beer flight.
Nixon’s continued passion for home brewing led him to open IndieFerm Homebrew and Fermentation Supplies next-door to the brewery. Customers can purchase materials needed for both wine and beer making. You can also find the tools to make cheese, ketchup and the increasingly popular kombucha. Classes are offered to all beginner brewers and food fermenters and the schedule can be found on the Independent Fermentations Supply Facebook page.
1620 WINERY & WINE BAR
(Tasting room) Wednesday through Sunday 1- 5 p.m.
(Wine bar) Monday, Tuesday: 4-11 p.m.
Wednesday-Saturday: 12-11 p.m.
Sunday: 12-10 p.m.
170 Water Street, Plymouth, 508-746-3532
Situated within the Village Landing overlooking Plymouth Harbor, the 1620 Winery & Wine Bar offers an inviting and elegant atmosphere for enjoying local wines. Beneath a dark mahogany-colored tin ceiling is a rustic bar made of reclaimed wood from owners Robert and Raquel Mullaney’s 1700s Plymouth home. Robert Mullaney always had an interest in winemaking, inspired in part by his grandfather who was a hobby winemaker in Sicily. Raquel’s ancestry, on the other hand, had ties to the local cranberry industry. Stacks of cranberry boxes and an antique cranberry scoop once used by Raquel’s grandmother, remind guests of the town’s rich history.
The winery is known for its delicious fruited wines, made at the winery’s production facility at Cordage Park. Robert Mullaney also loves experimenting with the wines he creates, often bringing in samples of new fermentations for his guests to try. His most recent experiment was a wine infused with Godiva chocolate.
1620 Winery hosts regular tasting hours when customers can sample up to five different kinds of wine. In the evening, the bar comes alive with people chatting at tables made from old wine barrels. A small menu offers Sicilian pizzas and homemade cheese and dessert boards and customers can choose a flight of any three wines from the winery’s extensive local menu (including 1620 Wines) for just $15. The winery has big plans in the coming year, with a second tasting room and a function hall planned to open at Cordage Park sometime in the fall. If you visit the wine bar when the weather is fair, get yourself a glass of the wildly popular Billington’s Blend and head out to the patio to sip your wine in the sunshine.
PLYMOUTH BAY WINERY
Monday to Saturday: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
114 Water Street, Plymouth, 508-746-2100
Sipping wine is a joyful activity at Plymouth Bay Winery, which overlooks Plymouth Harbor.
Only a few of their flagship wines are made from grapes—three to be exact. The vast majority of Plymouth Bay wines are crafted with fermented fruit, like cherries, cranberries, apples and apricots. Owner Michael Carr has experimented with all sorts of fruit and the resulting blends are deliciously sweet and easy to drink by the glass or mixed up in a refreshing cocktail.
There’s no better way to determine your favorite wine than stopping in for a tasting and trying them all. For $10, guests are given a choice of a stemless or stemmed wine glass stamped with the Plymouth Bay logo that they get to keep at the end of the tasting. The tasting experience begins with traditional grape wines like a Colonial Red made from Concord grapes from New Hampshire before moving on to the fruited wines. Listen to Michael’s suggestions on the perfect food pairings while enjoying the smooth taste of Blackberry Bay and the golden-colored summer favorite, Apricot Bay. Samples of wine-infused jams and jellies are included in the tasting. Far from a stuffy wine experience, guests are encouraged to “Play with Bay” by referencing a playbook of recipes for flavorful sangrias and cocktails made with Plymouth Bay wines (many invented by Pam Carr, Michael’s wife) and delightful dishes made using their jellies and sauces.
MAYFLOWER BREWING COMPANY
Tastings: Wednesday to Saturday 12-8 p.m.
Tours: Saturday, Sunday 12-5 p.m.
12 Resnik Road, Plymouth, 508-746-2674
When it comes to craft beer brewing, Mayflower Brewing Company sets a high bar. Founder Drew Brosseau can trace his lineage all the way back to the Mayflower. In fact, he’s a distant descendant of John Alden, the crewmember who served as the Mayflower’s cooper, responsible for tending to the barrels of food and drink—particularly the beer.
Mayflower produces its core lineup of classic English ales and limited-edition beers at a 9,000-square-foot facility in a Plymouth industrial park and distributes them across New England. Just a 10-minute drive from the downtown, the brewery recently opened a newly expanded tasting room.
Visitors who want to sample a few of Mayflower’s signature beers can try the Speedwell Sampler, named after a ship that attempted to cross the pond, only to turn back, as if to say, “eh, just testing the waters.” More serious beer connoisseurs will want to go with the Mayflower Voyage, which offers five seven-ounce pours, which amounts to a little more than two pints of beer. There’s always a seasonal brew on rotation in addition to Mayflower’s staples, but the bestseller (the one you can find in nearly every restaurant and bar in the region) is their India Pale Ale. Guests are encouraged to take a free 30-minute tour of the brewery to see where the magic happens.
Heading out for a bite to eat? Here’s where you can find Plymouth’s local brews.
Wash down a KKatie burger with an IndieFerm or Mayflower brew. The space is small but the locals are welcoming and there’s always a sporting event on the television.
Your classic pub. Speedwell is lively and entertaining with long wooden tables and a friendly atmosphere. These guys have Dirty Water spirits on tap. See if you can taste the difference between kegged and bottled vodka.
The extensive beer list is always changing at this popular watering hole but IndieFerm or Mayflower’s seasonal brews are always on tap. Pair with the grilled cheese special of the day.
Voted best cocktail bar on the South Shore, how could you not go try a mixed drink crafted with some Dirty Water vodka? The setting is cozy and intimate with just a handful of two-top tables and a chef/owner who loves to experiment with new recipes that take a twist on traditional comfort foods.
Driftwood is the quintessential pub offering hearty food and cold pints of Mayflower or IndieFerm beer to top off the experience.