In case you’ve been living under a rock—and until last week, many of us pretty much were—Tree House Brewing has come to Sandwich. If you’ve never heard of them, you’re probably not a craft beer enthusiast.
For the beer lovers in my family, Tree House beer is a religious experience.
For several years it’s been a Christmas tradition for my brother to pour flights for the nephews as he regales them with stories of pilgrimages to Charlton, Massachusetts, to acquire their Holy Grail of brew. His version of the hardship story of walking uphill both ways to school is now a harrowing two hours in line to buy beer at Tree House on a bitter day that was too frigid to ski but not too cold to pick up this coveted libation. He had to work for it. The younger generation is spoiled by the luxury of quick, convenient, contactless car pick-up.
Obviously, he wasn’t alone in his dedication. Despite, or, if Forbes is correct, maybe in part because of that limited access, the brand has built a loyal following. Some even say cult-like. Sandwich is now one of three pick-up locations in operation; the other two are located in Deerfield and Charlton.
Locally, the discussion around Tree House has not been without controversy or misconception. The know-it-alls in the social media cesspool exacerbated fears, concerns and an adversarial climate by their lack of understanding and outright denial of just how different this will be than previous businesses in that space. Then there are those who expressed trepidation that what they perceive as a little homegrown brewery couldn’t possibly be sustained at this location. In the same thread the business is painted as some big corporation bent on ruining the neighborhood.
To his credit, co-owner Nate Lanier stayed above the fray and instead of engaging, used his own platforms to issue statements. He also attended a meeting with neighbors and shared his vision and goals. He addressed the valid concerns and acknowledged the volume of clientele that this establishment will bring. Since hearing his side of the story, commentary has taken a more positive and welcoming tone. They want to be good neighbors.
As of 2018, Tree House was one of the top 50 fastest-growing craft brewers in the country. In 2019, the brand had the most “check ins” in the world on the app Untappd. Over a million users shared they were drinking a Tree House brew. That same year, they were ranked as one of the top five breweries in the world.
And you can’t buy their beer in stores.
Prior to the existence of Tree House, most people only knew Charlton as a place off the Mass Pike with a nice rest area where you made a quick pit stop and then drove through to get home. Kind of like Sandwich.
It’s fascinating that these business owners have found a way to earn accolades as world-renowned brewers while providing an experience and public-facing presence that makes people feel like part of a small, exceptional community.
When you think about it, that makes them a perfect fit for Sandwich. People who know about it, love it. It’s a Cape town that has so much going for it but in a way that is unique from the rest of the Cape.
For years, civic and municipal organizations and town leaders have struggled with marketing Sandwich as a place to live, work and play. The town couldn’t pay a PR firm that will bring as much attention to Sandwich as this world-class brewery. They promote the community and lifestyle to craft beer enthusiasts and loyal followers.
No one is denying that there will be growing pains in all this. But with timed reservations, parking and traffic mitigation, limiting the number of beers allowed to be consumed on premises and the cordial culture of these craft breweries, Tree House will be an asset to the community and benefit other local businesses. Sandwich will be a destination, not just a drive-thru.