A Close Look at Heavy Seas Brewery

by Liz Rapoport on Aug 15, 2012 in Culture

It would be easy to drive right by the unassuming warehouse that is home to the Heavy Seas brewery. But the pirate labels on the trucks and doorways are a tip-off, and lead the way to a welcoming tasting room that's a gathering place for guests and employees alike. Our recent visit to caught us up on all the brewery has to offer.

Each Saturday, Heavy Seas runs public tours for up to 60 people per session, though reservations are encouraged as they fill up quickly. For $5, guests get a souvenir pint glass and five tokens that can each be traded in for a 4-oz. pour at any point before or after the tour. The bar is host to six Heavy Seas beers on tap and one special cask-conditioned ale. Visitors are encouraged to trade in at least one token before the tour gets going, so you can enjoy a taste of the brew as you head into the facility to discover how it was created.

Tours are given by one of several guides, including the brewers, the warehouse manager, the marketing director or — on lucky days — even Heavy Seas founder and owner, Hugh Sisson. The guide leads you through the large facility, from storage to bottling to the cold room to the fermenting tanks. Be prepared for a much more technical tour than you may have experienced at another facility; guests really get a feel for the science involved in brewing instead of a pared down summary.

Looking around the brewhouse you'll see 600 casks, multiple bourbon barrels for aging beers (including Greater Pumpkin and Below Decks), pallets of beer ready for shipping and all of the brewing equipment. It is not difficult to see why Heavy Seas recently purchased an 10,000-sq.-ft. addition. Over the next two years there are significant plans for the facility to go through a series of changes that will allow for a larger cold room, improved tasting room, additional storage, new equipment and much more.

What stands out the most during a visit is undoubtedly the camaraderie between employees. With a staff of 36, there is a distinct family feel thoughout the brewery, which creates a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. All levels of employees are answering questions, explaining processes, and just simply talking about how much they love beer.

If you are looking for a quick and novel weekend activity, this tour is certainly worth your while.

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