Tilted Barn Brewery and Christmas Farm: Like a Norman Rockwell Painting … with Beer 

It’s that time of year when everyone’s looking for the perfect place to grab a tree. We all want bountiful trees, gorgeous scenery, festive ambiance, you know, the Norman Rockwell experience.   Well I have great news for you: You can have all that and BEER at the Tilted Barn Brewery & Christmas Farm in Exeter.

My family and I discovered The Christmas Farm in Exeter five years ago, our first year living in Rhode Island. This little gem is hidden down a fairly long dirt road on Route 2, which then opens up to the picturesque property. It’s truly the quintessential farm experience, with a battered old barn, a quaint farmers’ residence and acres upon acres of farmland. At first glance, the tree options seem endless. Many come here early in the season to tag their tree for cutting in December (note to self for 2018) so the options are not as endless as they first seem. You might not get the tree of your dreams, but there are plenty choices to suit everyone’s tastes. There’s even a gift shop on the property that sells Christmas ornaments and decorations, and serves complimentary hot chocolate.  It’s so cozy and festive, you never want to leave.

A couple of years later, that battered old barn got restored into a brewery and tasting room, elevating Christmas tree shopping to a whole new level.

Owners Matt and Kara Richardson live on and manage this gorgeous property, which has been in Kara’s family for over 50 years. To marry their mutual passions of farming and quality beer, in 2007 they founded Ocean State Hops, which supplies hops to both commercial breweries and home brewers. The logical next step: brew their own beer. Enter the Tilted Barn Brewery, Rhode Island’s first farm brewery.

I decided to check it out on a random chilly Friday night, expecting to be one of a few patrons sipping beer while my kids ran around outside. What I encountered, however, was nothing of the sort. The parking lot was jammed with cars, many with bearded men drinking cans of beer around open hatchbacks. A line of thirsty beer lovers snaked out of the barn, 20 to 30 deep. A second line formed around the Fork in the Road food truck, which served tasty offerings like beef sliders and roasted delicata squash. This was quite the scene; think the Alchemist in Stowe, Vt, minus the hipsters.

I got in line and chatted up the man in front me who was a frequent buyer. I learned that long lines were typical at the Tilted Barn. Because this beer is so amazing, and because they often sell out, people queue up an hour before opening. My new friend suggested I use my press cred to cut the line and snag a beer. It’s not something I do often (ever actually), but I decided to try. My attempt to cut the line ended up being completely unnecessary because the line was for can purchases and I just wanted a pour. (You’re welcome, by the way, for this excellent tip if you decide to check it out.)

Once inside the charming, rustic barn I met Matt, the owner, who was super friendly and helpful.  Truthfully, hoppy beers are not my favorite so I opted for a Propogator #11, a farmhouse wheat fermented with a blend of saison yeast. The taste was phenomenal; as refreshing as a traditional wheat beer, but so much more complex. It was served in a lovely snifter and I enjoyed every sip.  Their beer offerings are constantly changing, so you never know what new treasure will be waiting for you. Inside the crowded but homey barn, you can buy a t-shirt or head upstairs to enjoy your beer in the welcoming loft. The whole experience was otherworldly; am I in Exeter, Rhode Island or Portland, Oregon? It’s one of those places of such quality and distinction that you find yourself asking: How did we get so lucky to have this down the road? It’s places like the Tilted Barn that make our tiny, quirky state a destination for those in search of culinary greatness.

So if this holiday season you’re looking for a fun, festive place where you can get a tree and drink an incredible craft beer, look no further than Exeter’s Tilted Barn. If you can’t get there this month, no worries, as the Tilted Barn is open year round Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Check their website before you go as the hours of operation change during the holidays to accommodate the extra tree traffic.





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