Thirsty? Check out the breweries, wineries, cideries and more across the happy valley.

The Beerhunter: The Eight-Day Cheers, Western Mass Beer Week is Upon Us
Jun05

The Beerhunter: The Eight-Day Cheers, Western Mass Beer Week is Upon Us

Any out-of-towner who would guess Western Mass has a quiet craft beer scene is bound for a rude, brewed awakening. But even locals may be surprised at the scope of the second annual Western Mass Beer Week, which runs June 10-17. Last year’s series of events at breweries, bars and restaurants around the Valley attracted 35 businesses, which hosted (by my count) 52 events. This year, more than 50 businesses are participating in 70...

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The Pour Man: Super Premium Wine With Highfalutin Flavor
Apr30

The Pour Man: Super Premium Wine With Highfalutin Flavor

Bread & Butter Chardonnay, 2015; Napa, California; $14.99Bread & Butter Chardonnay is among the top-selling super premium wines in the country — and there’s a good reason for that. It’s a dry, white wine that is flavorful, well-crafted and sells for a reasonable price.Although “super premium” sounds highfalutin, it’s just industry jargon for wines that sell in the $12 to $15 range and sometimes go on sale for less than $10. I have...

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Advocate taste-off: Finding the perfect cheesecake
Apr18

Advocate taste-off: Finding the perfect cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of the most decadent and delightful treats of all the sweets. A cheesecake should be fluffy and creamy, sugary and buttery, fresh and delicate. Because when it’s not, it’s a damn waste of calories slathered onto your hips. Being one of the best desserts also means cheesecake is one of the worst for you in terms of calories, fat, and sugar (it’s wonderful for you in terms of soul-boosting). So, it’s important when...

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Beerhunter: Turnpike Two-Stop
Apr10

Beerhunter: Turnpike Two-Stop

Two worthwhile breweries off exit 9The naturalist John Muir once observed that “when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I’m no bearded environmental philosopher, but I do like to kick back with a pint sometimes and dwell on our interconnectedness.In the realm of craft beer, brewers and buyers often muse on the national and international history of the craft — but that must square, for...

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The Pour Man: Prosecco Has it Over Cava
Mar13

The Pour Man: Prosecco Has it Over Cava

Lunetta Prosecco is one of the hottest sparkling wine brands on the American market, and there’s a good reasonta why — it’s well-made, inexpensive and widely available, an excellent wine to celebrate. It also is lower than many wines in alcohol, about 11.5 percent, so it’s a pleasant companion to take to a party and, unless you over indulge, it won’t give you a headache in the morning. In the past, sparkling wines weren’t my go-to...

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Sweet! The SYRUP Festival Returns This Weekend
Mar13

Sweet! The SYRUP Festival Returns This Weekend

With the SYRUP Festival, Piti Theatre Company in Shelburne Falls has hit on a tradition that most of us would never have realized we were missing: all-ages live performance, featuring world-class artists, mixed with handcrafted food and sweets from local artisans. Now in its eighth year, SYRUP comes back around this weekend. On Saturday, Jonathan Mirin performs the new solo physical comedy piece Sammy and the Grand Buffet at 2 p.m. An...

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Beerhunter: Craft Beer Goals for 2017
Feb06

Beerhunter: Craft Beer Goals for 2017

Local brewers share their predictions and plansLast year, the Beerhunter offered some “brew year’s resolutions” to serve as a checklist for craft beer enthusiasts on a year-long quest to try new things. This year, it seemed prudent to put the question to the brewers themselves. I asked them: what might craft beer lovers expect to see from you this year? In other words: what are your new year’s resolutions? Many responded with exciting...

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The Pour Man: Get Into a Dry Cab for Winter
Jan30

The Pour Man: Get Into a Dry Cab for Winter

Broadside Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon; $12.99 Although it might be hard to tell from our contradictory weather these days, we’re in the dead of winter, a season that cries out for deep, rich red wines full of dark berry and plum flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favorite red wine varietals, and the one I most often turn to when the temperatures drop below freezing. And I’m not alone in my admiration; Cabernet Sauvignon ranks...

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O, Cannabis: Can I Give You Some Weed? and Other Important Questions
Jan23

O, Cannabis: Can I Give You Some Weed? and Other Important Questions

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts on Dec. 15, 2016, but the state is in a legal gray area right now as a system to sell weed is established. The consumption of recreational marijuana is now legal, but the sale of recreational marijuana isn’t yet. That’s quite the conundrum. State lawmakers recently pushed back the open date of recreational marijuana retailers by six months, from January 2018 to July 2018, extending...

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Cold Weather Craft: The best seasonal beers for winter months
Jan09

Cold Weather Craft: The best seasonal beers for winter months

When predictions of blizzards rolled into town, our parents and grandparents ran to the package store and grabbed a 30-pack of cheap lager cans (we used to call them “dad soda”) along with bread, milk, and eggs. These days, the Nor’easter stockpile options are a bit more refined, and many newer craft breweries produce darker, spicier beers for winter — complemented by older holiday mainstays like Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, first...

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The Pour Man: Producers of MD ‘Mad Dog’ 20/20 Make a Surprisingly Good Pinot Noir
Jan03

The Pour Man: Producers of MD ‘Mad Dog’ 20/20 Make a Surprisingly Good Pinot Noir

At first blush, one wouldn’t think that the producer of one of world’s most popular “brown-bag wines” would be making a well-crafted, reasonably priced Pinot Noir, much less any other drinkable wine. But that’s the case with Chloe, which means “green shoot” in ancient Greek, in case you were wondering. Chloe’s parent company, The Wine Group, a privately-held, investment firm, makes MD 20/20, a cheap, fortified wine that comes in a...

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Cocktail of the Month Club: Dec. 2016
Dec21

Cocktail of the Month Club: Dec. 2016

This month, the Advocate visited the Five Eyed Fox in Turners Falls, where co-owner Aric Binaco showed us how to make a Bison Sour, a velvety, pleasantly sweet cocktail with a hint of spice. Here’s the recipe: The Bison Sour2 ounces bison grass-infused vodka (infuse your own or buy Zu bison grass-vodka) 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice 1/2 ounce simple syrup (aka sugar water) 1/2 ounce egg white (optional, for texture) 1 or 2...

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Fudge Judging: We found the best local fudge around
Dec19

Fudge Judging: We found the best local fudge around

The winter holiday season is the best time for fudge. It’s a season of indulgence and sharing and sweets and fun — that’s what fudge is all about. Stock up on some now and hand out pounds of rich, creamy, gooey goodness as presents or keep it home and eat it sliver by sliver, chunk by chunk, handful by handful, etc. Advocate staffers editors Kristin Palpini and Hunter Styles, art director Jennifer Levesque, staff writer Peter Vancini,...

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Alicia Fuhrman’s Local Libations: A wine cocktail for winter
Dec12

Alicia Fuhrman’s Local Libations: A wine cocktail for winter

Make me something good. I used to get this request (and versions of it) often, and almost always from strangers. It was a high-turnover tourist town I worked in — most faces you’d only see for one night. But isn’t that so much of the bar experience: not knowing? The people sitting three stools down and what your second drink is going to be.Especially now, in the world of craft drinking — i.e. consumption with interest in the...

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The Beerhunter: Over the Borderline
Dec05

The Beerhunter: Over the Borderline

Filling a glass where Connecticut meets MassMost night owls are easy when it comes to shifts in ambience, but I can’t say that many of us thrive under fluorescent light. That might have been why, on Wednesday afternoon, my editor found me sighing heavily at my desk. She encouraged me to take a break from the blinking cursor on my screen and hit the road for a few hours. Didn’t I have a Beerhunter column to write?Why yes, as a matter...

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Winter Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (Jan-Mar 2017)
Nov28

Winter Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (Jan-Mar 2017)

A Spirited Debate One of two things will happen to you when confronted with the bold and brassy acts of clairvoyance that Rebecca Anne LoCicero whips up onstage. One will be a sense of reluctant amazement. The other will be a deep, head-shaking skepticism. LoCicero has been working in the New England area, nationally, and worldwide for more than two decades, and the funny, occasionally outrageous impromptu readings she performs on...

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Can All-Natural Kava Really Soothe Anxiety?
Nov28

Can All-Natural Kava Really Soothe Anxiety?

Chocolate is a treat, but when you add kava, chocolate is medicine.At least that’s what Rachael Gibney, a reiki healer from Shutesbury says. She is mixing a bowl of raw cacao with ground kava at a workshop at the Bower Studio in Pelham, showing people how to make medicinal chocolate at home.“It’s really good at releasing anxiety, especially social anxiety,” Gibney tells the crowd as she stirs the pot.Kava is the root of a plant native...

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The Pour Man: Cheap Chianti for Sophisticated Adults
Nov28

The Pour Man: Cheap Chianti for Sophisticated Adults

My first recollection of Chianti, as it is for many people, was the iconic straw-wrapped bottle, not the wine.Occasionally, an unopened bottle would show up at our house, usually a gift from a friend coming to dinner, and by the end of the adult evening, it would be empty. The bottle would hang around for a few days. My mother would say she wanted to put a candle in it to decorate the table the next time she served spaghetti and...

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The Pour Man: Wines With Turkey
Nov21

The Pour Man: Wines With Turkey

Finding a wine that goes with every course of the Thanksgiving dinner can be a bit dodgy because the meal is a hodgepodge of dishes with distinctive flavors.Viognier, Cava, Pinot Noir and Cotes du Rhone have been my favorites in the past, but this year I’m trying a couple of very nice California blends with our meal, wines that don’t stray too far from my traditional standbys and that go very well with a variety of foods.Of course,...

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How to talk politics with your family on Thanksgiving: an Advocate chat
Nov21

How to talk politics with your family on Thanksgiving: an Advocate chat

The Valley Advocate is starting up a new feature: chats! Our inaugural chat will be about mixing family and politics during Thanksgiving. If you want to hear about some of our coping strategies, read on! The conversation has been lightly edited. dave.eisen (Dave Eisenstadter, web editor): Shall we begin?kristinpalpini (Kristin Palpini, editor): Yeppetevancini (Peter Vancini, staff writer): Off we gokristinpalpini: What are we here...

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The Pumpkin Beer Taste Test (Round 2)
Nov14

The Pumpkin Beer Taste Test (Round 2)

When I think back to last fall, and the dozen taste tests I did of pumpkin-flavored beers, my tongue conjures flashbacks of bad and bewildering brews.What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment. Or maybe I’m an optimist, holding onto a hope that there are pumpkin beers out there that don’t taste like thin perfume, cloying candy, or bitter-tinged pumpkin guts.To be fair, last year’s search unearthed a few solid options. I enjoyed the...

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At Beerology, Homebrewers Can Go Local, Too
Nov14

At Beerology, Homebrewers Can Go Local, Too

At Home with the BrewLocal beer ingredients abound, but commercial brewers aren’t the only ones who can get their hands on them. Fun and creative brewing starts at home, too — and many in the Valley have taken up the calling.Mike Schilling has been homebrewing for seven years. Schilling works as the “beer guy” at Provisions specialty food store in Northampton, but his most recent endeavor with his wife Jordana Starr is Beerology, the...

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What’s in an “All Local” Beer, Anyway?
Nov14

What’s in an “All Local” Beer, Anyway?

From the Valley, Born and BrewedThe crafty little explosion of local breweries up and down the Valley over the last 20 years has become a point of pride for neighbors and travelers alike. But as local craft beer markets across the country have matured from clusters of quirky start-ups into primary players in local food movements, more and more opportunities have cropped up for brewers to partner with farmers in an effort to source...

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If You Brew It, They Will Come: Tree House Brewing in Monson attracts international recognition
Nov14

If You Brew It, They Will Come: Tree House Brewing in Monson attracts international recognition

It isn’t hard to pick Dean Rohan out of a crowd. He’s the tall guy with glasses in the muck boots and ratty work pants. And he’s wearing a red T-shirt with his own face on it that reads “I’m with Dean.” Today, he’s overseeing the arrival of a tanker truck filled with grain as it offloads its cargo into a giant stainless steel silo emblazoned with the logo of Tree House Brewing. Rohan is one of the brewery’s three co-founders, who grew...

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Dry Weather, Drought a Mixed Bag for Northeast Vineyards
Nov14

Dry Weather, Drought a Mixed Bag for Northeast Vineyards

Grape harvests are underway at vineyards in the Northeast where unusually dry warm weather this summer was ideal for growing grapes. But in parts of New York and southern New England, where drought struck, some growers are seeing decreasing yields. New York, the country’s third largest wine producer, was hit hard by drought in the Finger Lakes wine region. Gene Pierce, owner of Glenora Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake, said his and other...

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The Pour Man: Edna Valley is Back
Nov14

The Pour Man: Edna Valley is Back

A couple of decades ago, back before the brand hit the skids, Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay was a treat, a wine I couldn’t afford, but would occasionally enjoy at a South Carolina restaurant owned by friends Louis and Marlene Osteen.The Osteens knew their wines, so when they’d offer to buy you a glass, it would always be something special.Their restaurant sold a lot of wine, and they were valued customers for the producers. So when...

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Real Wine and Beer Pairings for Real Life: because Steel Rail needs Skittles
Nov14

Real Wine and Beer Pairings for Real Life: because Steel Rail needs Skittles

Talk to Pour Man Warren Johnston if you want excellent suggestions for which wine to serve at your next dinner party. Hit up Beerhunter Hunter Styles to find the best brews to drink with your buds. But if you want to know the best way to pair wine and beer with the stuff you have already in your pantry and kitchen, then you’ve got to seek out the advice of Advocate staffers who are well experienced at coming home late after work in...

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Beerhunter: Hartford Beer Fans, Take Heart
Nov07

Beerhunter: Hartford Beer Fans, Take Heart

In the two years since I took on the role of Valley beer reporter, I’ve tried to keep things local whenever possible. Aside from an international sojourn or two — like when I tried a mug of saliva-fermented ‘chicha’ corn beer in Peru last year — I’ve generally been happy to stay close to home, and the talent of Valley brewers keeps the beat from growing stale.But wandering out to Worcester last month piqued my interest in those New...

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Cocktail of the Month Club: A Piney October Surprise
Nov03

Cocktail of the Month Club: A Piney October Surprise

  “Riding the Pine”Brought to you by Lincoln Allen, bar manager at The Alvah Stone in Montague.  Ingredients: 1 ½ Ounces St. George Terroir Gin 1 ounce Zirbenz Pine Liqueur ½ ounce yellow chartreuse ¾ ounce lemon juice Lemon peel garnishTo Make: • Mix in shaker with ice. Double strain into chilled coupe glass or any available vessel. Garnish with lemon. Enjoy!     — Peter Vancini...

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The Pour Man: Stupid Label, Great Wine
Oct31

The Pour Man: Stupid Label, Great Wine

Mionetto Gran Rosé is a very good sparkling wine with lots of rich fruit flavors that reflect the expertise of a master winemaker and the continued quality of one of Italy’s top wine producers.In fact, this widely available wine is an excellent bridge from the bright, refreshing wines of summer to the hearty reds of winter. The Gran Rosé is extra dry like a warm weather wine, with evident fruit flavors that remind me that there will...

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Best of 2016 Readers’ Poll Winners (Now a Board Game!)
Oct17

Best of 2016 Readers’ Poll Winners (Now a Board Game!)

Game by Kristin Palpini, Kyle Olsen, Jennifer Levesque, and Hunter StylesIn celebration of the Annual Manual — a condensed version of the Advocate’s yearly Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll — we’ve created a board game featuring some of the Best Of winners. Race your friends and family around the board and try to collect items/complete tasks from each color category. The first one to collect items from all six...

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Artifact Cider Project pours local heritage by the glass
Oct10

Artifact Cider Project pours local heritage by the glass

Good ApplesA scientist and a farmer walk into a bar. The scientist orders a pint of craft beer, locally made and small-batch brewed. The farmer, on the other hand, can’t drink beer — he has just been diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction to the gluten protein found in wheat. Instead, the farmer orders a bottle of Woodchuck Hard Cider. It’s sweet. It’s fizzy. It’s fine.But the scientist and the...

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The Pour Man: California Red, Family Style
Oct03

The Pour Man: California Red, Family Style

Sometimes finding the right name for a child, a pet or even a wine can be difficult. Naming can take long, grueling hours of trotting out candidates only to have them dismissed by others for lacking originality or humor, or being downright dumb. The process can take its toll, so it’s best to have alcohol involved. For example, after days of trying to find a name for our wonderful dog, Pepita, my wife, Sandy, and I resolved the issue...

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This Weekend in Greenfield: Blues, Brews, and BBQ
Oct03

This Weekend in Greenfield: Blues, Brews, and BBQ

Here’s the BeefIt’s hard to believe that Greenfield’s Riverside Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival is already in its sixth season. We’ve barely finished the heaping pile of brisket on our plate from last year. But it shouldn’t be too hard for us to get back into the swing of things. The Franklin County Rotary Club, Lefty’s Brewing Company, and the Greenfield Recreation Department are doing everything they can to appeal to the...

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Cocktail of the Month Club: Cranberry Cinnamon Whiskey Sour at Osteria Vespa, Amherst
Sep19

Cocktail of the Month Club: Cranberry Cinnamon Whiskey Sour at Osteria Vespa, Amherst

September marks the end of the summer and evenings are starting to bring with them a subtle autumn chill. Chase it away with this month’s cocktail, a cranberry-cinnamon whiskey sour that’s sure to warm you up, brought to you by Josh Draghe, head bartender at Osteria Vespa in Amherst.— Peter Vancini, pvancini@valleyadvocate.com Cranberry-Cinnamon Whiskey SourCourtesy of Josh Draghe, Head Bartender at Osteria Vespa. 1.5 ounces...

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