Many fans of craft beer are constantly looking ahead to the next big release. I don’t count myself any different, though I’ve recently taken a moment to look back at how I’ve gotten to where I am today.
Like I said, like many, I often look ahead to what’s being released today, tomorrow, or this weekend to plan out where to go, how much to spend, and how to master the ultimate Tetris game in my fridge. However, this past weekend I found myself thinking about why I chose to begin drinking craft over macro before ever trying my first beer.
It’s only fitting a trip to Buzzards Bay Brewing would spark memories of my earliest interactions with the craft beer community. It was on the very same farm in Westport, MA that I first saw a brewery about 10 year ago.
My uncle had always been the type of person to prefer farmers markets and small specialty shops over supermarkets. I found the same applied for his beer purchases. Growing up I worked for him to earn a few bucks here and there. When we finished work for the day, he would usually run a few errands before dropping me off at home. Sometimes, this would include a beer run.
Instead of running to the local packie for a six-pack of Bud or Miller, we would drive to Buzzards Bay. My first trip to the brewery stands out in my memories, because they used to operate a sort of drive-thru service. I remember the car pulling up to one side of the barn/brewery and my uncle telling somebody what beer he wanted and handing over some cash. We then pulled around to the other side of the building and out came another guy with a case of beer. Then we drove off and I though “Huh, that was cool.”
Buzzards Bay was the local brewery which, as I would realize much later on, made it unique in a time when there wasn’t a brewery within less than 20 miles from everybody. Their name could be found under the “sponsors” section of dozens of local events and causes. Whenever you went out during the summer to a decent-sized event, you were bound to see at least one person wearing a shirt or hat featuring the brewery’s iconic buzzard (they were usually wearing sandals as well, just saying). As a young teen, I would’ve guessed everybody had a local brewery that they supported by buying their beers and wearing their branded merchandise.
Here’s where I also note that I had maybe only tried one or two beers before actually turning 21. When I did reach the legal drinking age, I had put quite a bit of thought into what I would choose as my first “legal” drink. It wasn’t that special, just a Sam Adams Boston Lager. But my early experience with Buzzards Bay shaped the way I approached beer.
Before turning 21, I had still spent a handful of summer nights at Buzzards Bay with friends and family. There was one night a week where the brewery hosted a BYOG (bring your own grillables) night. You bring some meat and whatever sides and fixin’s you want and grills are provided for you. It was such a laid-back atmosphere and everybody, attendees and staff alike, were super friendly. The brewery was open to just walk around, and it was my first time seeing the actual work that went into brewing beer.
Today, I find myself still drawn to my “hometown” brewery. I don’t live as close as I used to and there are many more breweries within reasonable traveling distance, but I still love to visit and pick up a few bottles or a growler from time to time. Years after venturing into the world of craft beer, the Buzzard is still consistently turning out good beer and serving it up with a friendly smile. The current beer garden and new heated tent makes the brewery a true year-round destination.
Buzzards Bay was my first “true” craft beer experience, and I’ve brought a number of my own friends here for their first experience as well. It’s our brewery. It’s in our backyard. It’s an incredibly welcoming, laid-back spot perfect for sipping away a summer afternoon, typically with some delicious food and live music.