From just an hour outside Boston to the tip of the Berkshires in the western corner of the state, Massachusetts is home to hundreds of acres of skiable terrain. Nashoba Valley, Jiminy Peak, Wachusett Mountain—no matter where you hit the powder, there’s something for everyone in the Bay State. And for a state that loves its beer as much as Massachusetts does, it’s no surprise that a brewery occupies not one, but two spots, on our list of the best places to après in Mass. Here’s where to quench your thirst:
For a true "winter in New England" vibe, look no further than the charming après-ski scene at the slope-side Bullock Lodge Cider House at Wachusett Mountain. Built in the 1930s, Bullock Lodge—one of the most historical structures on the summit—reopened in 2010 after being shuttered for 50 years. It is located mid-mountain at the base of the 10th trail and is a hot spot for warm beverages and specialty treats from the Red Apple Farm in Phillipston. Fried donuts, apple dumplings, fresh fudge, and apple cider all make appearances on the menu. And if adult beverages are more your speed, ski down to the base lodge for drafts from Wachusett Brewery at the Coppertop Lounge or a glass of vino and tapas at The T-Bar.
Sure, it’s a regional chain, but this John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House stands out from the rest of the pack because of its location, overlooking one of the Berkshires’ best mountain resorts. On the rustic and open top floor of the Country Inn, JH is warm, inviting, and ready for the crowds once ski season rolls around. Beer lovers will enjoy a pint (or two) of one of the brewery’s unique award-winning hops. As for the eats, patrons rave about the smoked gouda and chorizo mac and cheese, but pub classics and traditional New England dishes—like lobster bisque and a Gloucester pot—are also worth ordering. Be sure to save room for the apple crisp and come early to watch the shredders wrap up for the day.
With a large indoor fireplace, a wraparound bar with a wide selection of specialty spiked coffees, and what’s been called “the best view in town", it’s no surprise that The Outlook, less than an hour’s drive from Boston in Nashoba Valley, is packed during ski season. Live bands take over a small stage on the weekends at the locals-loved eatery, and the menu—featuring steaks, seafood, pastas, and consistently good burgers—changes with the season. The mountain at Nashoba has 11 lifts on 17 trails and a massive snowboard and tube park. Plus, it’s open day and night so the diehards can zip over for a snack and a cocktail later in the evening, after they’re done making tracks.
Ski Butternut has two on-site restaurants, but those preferring to exit the mountain in search of other nearby dining options, should venture to the Barrington Brewery. This Great Barrington staple serves up good craft beers—they make 25 over the course of a year and always have nine on tap—and pub fare in a casual setting just three miles from the base of the mountain in the Berkshires. Pair a pint of the Berkshire Blonde or the Hopland Pale Ale with any one of the house favorites: cheddar ale soup, a local sausage sampler, or a Berkshire veggie tart.
The Crazy Horse Bar and Grill has been around for decades, but has managed to stay a hidden gem at the Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont. With a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, it’s got the look of an old-school lodge with chairs and tables made of reclaimed wood and large windows meant for hours of people watching, but the no-frills solid food and drinks are the main reasons for visiting. An extensive menu (clam chowder, burgers, poutine, and fish and chips are all popular choices) and a full-service bar with signature libations basically made for chilly temps, make the Crazy Horse the perfect place to grab a bite after a long day next to the big hearth fireplace. Another bonus? Free Wi-Fi.