Eat.Enjoy.Live.: Tree House grows into its new home

8/31/2017 | Chris Maza

Category: September 2017

Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza

Hidden in plain sight at Tree House Brewing Company’s new facility in Charlton is a subtle nod to its humble beginnings.

Etched into the floor is the original floor plan, with proper dimensions, of the original brewery in Brimfield. The positioning of the bar, fermenters, stairs and even the potbelly stove harkens back to a past that seems long ago, but is, indeed, not forgotten.

Playfully pretending to lean on an imaginary half wall where it would have been in the birthplace of Tree House, co-founder Dean Rohan reflected, “When I stand in here, I literally think about where we started all the time. It always brings me back to that. Those were good days, man. We had a lot of fun.”

Tree House has come a long way from the barn in the woods where patrons would check out Rohan’s record collection to decide what they’d listen to while having a beer and eating peanuts on one of the couches by the stove. Even the previous facility in Monson with rows of fermenters, a bar and retail space and a Koy pond and waterfall outside, pales in comparison as the crew is trying to completely settle into its new nearly 55,000-square-foot home.

“Since we opened six years ago, we’ve opened every day through Sunday to make sure we had enough beer to satisfy everybody who came. I guess the size just changed; it didn’t change the capacity in which we worked,” Rohan said. “When we were brewing five-gallon batches, we had 60 people show up at the bar in Brimfield. When we finally got our five-barrel brew house, 150 people would show up at that bar in Brimfield. When we moved to Monson, we said, ‘That’s it guys; a 30-barrel brewhouse, 7,000 square feet of retail space and brewing space, beautiful Koy pond, we’re done, man. We’re talking retirement and it’s gonna be awesome.’ The whole world blows up and everybody’s coming at once and we found we couldn’t beat it there. We really feel we’re going to beat it here.”

See also: Photo gallery of Tree House's new Charlton facility

The facility has the capability of housing 240-barrel fermenters the length of the facility with the annual capacity of 125,000 barrels, or nearly 3.9 million gallons of beer. Currently, brewery contains six 240-barrel fermenters along with 11 60-barrel and four 120-barrel tanks.

“We’re slowly beginning to fill the 240 barrel fermenters. As those start to be filled and filled again, our quantity of beer is going to go up and you’re going to see the limits really start to jump up,” Rohan said.

As the legend of Tree House spread and its popularity grew, massive lines began to form at the Monson facility, which prompted the move. Those lines, however, have followed Rohan and co-founders Damien Goodreau and head brewer Nate Lanier.

“We didn’t necessarily expect it to be the full-on line show that it is,” Rohan admitted.

It’s a challenge they have yet to solve.

“That’s the million-dollar question. It really is. If I had an answer to that question, life would probably be a lot easier around here. Logistically, that line, it beats us up every single retail day,” Rohan said. “It gives us anxiety, it gives us joy, it gives us pain, it gives us laughter. It’s literally the thing we think about the most – being able to make everyone in that line happy and, knock on wood and fingers crossed, so far we have been able to do that for the majority of people in that line.”

What would make people happiest, Rohan theorized, is if Tree House became more than a spot people lined up to buy beer.

“The ultimate goal is to make this the place that you drive up, park, walk in the door, buy cases of beer, have a pint or two with friends. We might have a band playing and you might be able to buy some food while you listen to the band. And it’s not a 400-person rush every time we open the door. I don’t know if it’s a pipe dream, but that’s the dream,” Rohan said. “We’re pretty good at handling the lines, but we’d like to be really good at having a taproom.”

With that in mind, a sizeable bar featuring an intricately designed painting of the Tree House logo is lined with taps and and horizontal surfaces are strategically built into the interior of the facility. A massive outdoor beer garden pavilion with twin fireplaces sits just outside. The meticulous nature with which the facility was constructed alone illustrates that it was designed to be appreciated in a relaxed atmosphere.

The details, from the floor plan etched on the floor to hops carved into the wood crossbeams above, are part of what make Tree House more than just a place to purchase beer, Rohan said. How everything fits and how it looks has been a consideration since they started clearing the land in September 2016 and a rock ledge was discovered.

“Do we move the building or blast the ledge? One of the things that was important to us and especially to Nate was how everything fit visually – what to people see when they take that picture of the Tree House building? What do they see behind the building and in front of the building? What is the big picture going to be when it comes out in social media?” Rohan recalled. “Honest to God, those questions came daily.”

Those esthetic considerations remained all the way through the construction overseen by Goodreau in his all-weather gear during the winter, and onto the inclusion those finishing touches before its July opening.

“Things like putting wood over drywall in the corners to make it look more like a Tree House, Damien, that was his gig, man. Anywhere there’s a touch that looks like Tree House, he was that guy. His dad is the guy who did the painting behind the bar,” Rohan said. “Between Nate, who is a professional photographer himself, and Damien and the way he thinks about things, we were able to perpetuate that look and feel of Tree House all the way around.”

While the lines of people waiting to buy cans of beer are still there, Rohan said the taproom feel is starting to permeate.

“Generally we’re opening our taproom in the afternoon or early evening when the line dies down. There’s a good group that have started figuring that out,” he said. “Saturdays have been entertainment days. We have two food trucks that come every Saturday and four or five different acts that have played.”

Friday evenings have begun to take on a similar tone with Tree House hosting its Friday first live music session on Aug. 25 and more anticipated for the future.

And what of the now empty Monson facility? There are plans for that.

Rohan admitted during the move to Charlton the staff “raided and pilfered” their former home, but in the next few months, that brewhouse would see life once again.

Lanier and company will run the Monson and Charlton facilities “simultaneously, but not at the same time," Rohan said jokingly, explaining, “We’ll probably go in there a day or two a week and have fun in that brew house.”

The Monson site, he added, would allow Lanier and Tree House to get back to their roots with more innovation, while also churning out some much sought after favorites.

“It seemed like we had 50 or 60 beers come out in three years, and then in the next three, we’ve brewed those 50 or 60, plus the Curiosity series. Monson is going to be where we start to do that creative stuff again and that fun stuff,” Rohan said. “Also, some of the bigger beers that we’ve made are tough to make here. The hops are expensive and bigger batches make it that much harder. So our goal is to do some of those bigger, more sought out beers in small batches.”

For more information on Tree House, visit, “like” them on Facebook at and follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @treehousebrewco.

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