The smooth gulp of a frothy beer on a spring day gives us a taste of seasonal transition. We dream of walks in the park to see flowers bloom, baseball games, backyard grills and cool cocktails that are as refreshing as seaside breezes.
Today's trendy IPAs and craft beers have come a long way since the 17th century when natives and early settlers began growing hops in Massachusetts. By the 1800s, Boston was known as one of the premiere beer-brewing cities in America. The state upholds its rich history today with breweries and distilleries along the coastal towns.
The following 10 locations are the best waterside breweries & distilleries, offer tasting rooms and carry-out at the finest brews and spirits in Massachusetts.
Though it's not directly on the water, this family-owned distillery is less than three miles from the gorgeous coast of Good Harbor Beach and near Cape Ann attractions. Founders Bob Ryan and his nephew Dave Wood began producing small batch spirits in their coastal home on Cape Ann before establishing the distillery in 2006. Continuing the old-fashioned way in a copper pot and column still, this family- owned distillery produces gin, vodka, rum and a few variations of whiskey. Free tours and tastings are offered Monday to Wednesday and Friday to Saturday. ryanandwood.com
Where to Dock: Cape Ann's Marina Resort
This old factory-turned-distillery near the Malden River was founded by three friends who specialize in handcrafting small batches of spirits with organic ingredients. Their process uses two distinct types of still for production: a gin still for botanical flavors and a Charentais still, which concocts a sweet toasted taste. Hang out on the patio on Fridays and Saturdays or schedule a 60-minute tour that features a complimentary cocktail and tasting. shortpathdistillery.com
Where to Dock: Charlestown Marina
This independent business began with three friends brewing beers in a small kitchen in Somerville, MA. Now with multiple locations including the experimental brewery and scratch kitchen at Boston's Lovejoy Wharf, Night Shift Brewing distributes craft beer, hard seltzer, hard ciders, wine and even craft coffee. It's located steps away from the Freedom Trail, TD Garden arena and Boston Harbor, and visitors can try a variety of tap beers, a coffee bar, salads and other delicious fare to go. Be sure to also check out the Everett location. nightshiftbrewing.com/locations/lovejoy-wharf
Where to Dock: Constitution Marina
Located in the Seaport District, this brewery was founded by two beer lovers in 1986. Harpoon's craft beer line features New England's Original IPA, along with a variety of year-round specialties and seasonal selections. The Harpoon Beer Hall proudly serves the freshest Harpoon products and hand-crafted food offerings, as well as our other brands: UFO Beer, Clown Shoes Beer, Arctic Chill Hard Seltzer and City Roots Craft Cider, says Jon London, CMO of Mass Bay Brewing Co. The Beer Hall is open year-round for indoor visitors, and the brewery operates outdoors at the Harpoon space for open-air drinks and food during the summer. harpoonbrewery.com
Where to Dock: Fan Pier Marina
Situated in the heart of South Boston, this distillery is located in a foundry whose walls hold memories of ironworkers during a developing nation. Every step from choosing raw ingredients to bottling and labeling is done by hand, says Kevin McLaughlin, GrandTen production manager. Taste favorites such as the botanical-rich, American-style gins include the original Wire Works, a bourbon barrel-aged Special Reserve, as well as Wire Works RosÃ©, a seasonal spring and summer offering. GrandTen also pays homage to the region's nautical past with traditional New England-style Medford Rum and to Southie's Celtic heritage with a South Boston Irish Whiskey. The cocktail bar is open on weekends and retail purchases are available seven days a week. grandten.com
Where to Dock: Fan Pier Marina
This woman-owned business was founded by Rhonda Kallman in 2012 and was inspired by her very first love whiskey. Located at The Port of Boston Harbor on the southernmost waterfront in the Neponset section of Dorchester, this distillery boasts various aged whiskies, liqueurs, small batch gin and rum, plus distilled beer from Sam Adams. The location is open for tastings and VIP tours with cocktails and light bites on Saturdays. Visit Monday to Friday to shop for bottles and gifts. shop.bostonharbordistillery.com
Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Marina Bay
By the coast of Plymouth Harbor, this distillery offers artisanal spirits and craft cocktails in the taproom or to go. Full-sized batches use the 200-gallon copper still (Dr. Evil) while smaller batches use the 10-gallon scaled version (Mini Me). Craft spirits feature vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and several liqueurs including an authentic Italian Limoncello, plus their very own family recipe, Krupnikas, a Lithuanian style spiced honey liqueur. Visit the taproom Wednesday to Sunday. dirtywaterdistillery.com
Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Plymouth
With walls covered in locally designed tap handles and a large brew house with 12,000 barrels, this brewery is a fun stop along the Hyannis Harbor. Cape Cod Beer distributes products from Plymouth to Provincetown and offers a Mug Club membership with exclusive benefits. In addition to food and craft beer, the company sells items ranging from hats and hoodies to dog collars and leashes. Sip on IPAs, porters, sours, blondes and many more uniquely crafted homemade brews. Open Monday to Thursday. capecodbeer.com
Where to Dock: Hyannis Marina
Surrounded by colorful flowers and mature trees, this farmer's brewery is located in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. Enjoy the rustic vibe while sipping fresh brews in the taproom or kick back on the patio and admire the lovely landscape of the Donaroma's Nursery property. The brewery offers cheese and veggie plates, charcuterie and cruditÃ©s to accompany a selection of craft beers including spiced ales, coffee porters and IPAs. badmarthabeer.com
Where to Dock: Vineyard Haven Marina
On the way to Cisco Beach, stop and enjoy beer, wine and liquor at this rustic outdoor brewery on the island of Nantucket. Cisco Brewers Inc. features Triple Eight Distillery, Nantucket Vineyard and Bridge Liquors to produce a collection of New England's finest craft brews and spirits. Enjoy an afternoon sampling with specialties such as Shark Tracker, a golden and crisp light lager, or the Grey Lady wheat ale, named after Nantucket's often-foggy island. ciscobrewers.com
Where to Dock: Nantucket Boat Basin