I’m a big fan of apple picking. It gets me into the Fall spirit here in New England. It reminds me of being a kid. The scenery is beautiful. You get to support locally grown produce and eat the crop as you go along. I am also a big fan of beer. So when I found out that the Hyland Orchard in Sturbridge, Massachusetts is also a brewery, I knew just where to go when the apple season began.
Hyland Orchard is a low-key, no-fuss kind of place. The facility itself is compact, while the orchards are varied enough to suit all tastes throughout the season. There is a tractor ride to bring you to the orchards, or you can walk the few minutes up the hill. But everyone knows a tractor ride makes an apple picking day official.
But for in-between apple picking activities, the pavilion is your home base. With a petting zoo (goats, a few cows) on one side and a mostly fenced in playground area on the other, the pavilion resides in the middle. This is where live music sets up and performs (the Lonesome Brothers when we were there) and where the beer is on tap.
The orchard houses a brewery marketed as Pioneer Beer. There is a brewpub inside the barn where all varieties of Pioneer are sold, as well as additional live musical acts entertaining. I sampled the Rapscallion, the Kolsch and the Pale Ale. The Pale Ale was far from pale, consisting of a little bite – reminding me of Sierra Nevada’s IPA. The Kolsch was hoppy and the Rapscallion was smooth. You cannot bring your beer outside of the pub, but the pavilion has one selection on tap (in addition to wine, water and sodas) that you can carry around with you anywhere you like. Makes that tractor ride, petting zoo, playground and groovy tunes all the more entertaining.
You can try to snag one of the picnic tables underneath the covered pavilion or you can bring a blanket and spread it out on the grassy hill between the goats and the playground. The apple orchard surrounds you up above. The brewery and pub in the barn is below. We easily passed away an entire afternoon with time flying by and left reluctantly due to travel plans to visit family in Connecticut. But do be sure to pack a lunch. There is NO food sold on the premises – other than those juicy apples you pick yourself or buy by the bag.
Hyland Orchard & Brewery
199 Arnold Road
Fiskdale, MA 01518
Post by and photos credited to Molly G.
Find out what Molly is doing when she’s not eating @ The Bumbles Blog.