WESTMINSTER — For years, the Wachusett Brewing Company was not the greatest place to get a drink.
The stark white walls and bright fluorescent lighting of the brewery’s old tap room were more reminiscent of the waiting room of a tax attorney’s office than anywhere you’d go for a beer.
“It was more or less a glorified office building that also happened to have a tap system in it,” joked Wachusett marketing coordinator Caitlin Morse. “There just wasn’t much to it.”
But things have changed a lot in the last few months.
Recently completed, and celebrating its grand opening on Saturday, is Wachusett’s Brew Yard, an expanded bar area with the potential to put any other local watering hole to shame.
The redesigned space has the typical pool table and shuffle board that one might find at a lot of other bars, as well as the hollowed-out Airstream trailer that isn’t so common-place. The trailer is where the drinks are served, but it isn’t the only detail that will catch your eye. There’s also the salvaged portions of a 200-year-old dairy barn that have been reconstructed inside the Brew Yard.
As Wachusett President Christian McMahan explained, these two elements are a nod to two of the brewery’s most popular beers: the Country Pale Ale, which has a barn on its label, and the Wally, which has an Airstream on its label.
“We have this con vergence with the cool Airstream, kind of honky-tonk feeling that people love with the old farm and by bringing them together under one concept, we’re representing both the brand and the beer we’re becoming famous for,” he said.
Though the trend now is for many breweries to open a full-service tap room and expand their popularity out from there, this wasn’t an easy option for Wachusett. Though the brewery has been in business over 20 years now, it wasn’t until this year that they actually owned their building. Until a new bill was passed in the state Legislature, the restrictions of their license also prevented them from serving to people in the same way a traditional bar might.
Now they’re able to not just offer samples, but full flights and glasses of beer.
Construction of this newest portion of the brewery took place over the last few months, and adds on to the outdoor serving area that was completed earlier this year. All together, the Brew Yard takes up about 4,000 square feet and features additional outdoor seating, a fire pit, and a second Airstream trailer that serves as a food truck that’s open year round.
Though their official opening is on Saturday, the Brew Yard did have a soft opening last weekend and Morse said the customer reactions have been good so far.
“People love the vibe of it, it’s very comfortable and cozy,” she said. “I’ve already started to see some of the people again who I saw at the beginning of the week.”
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