Mass MoCA’s Beer Chalet keeps it simple
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s outdoor tavern is so casual it doesn’t really have an official name.
It’s the Beer Garden to some, the Beer Chalet to others. It’s Building 8 if you’re feeling officious. Call it whatever you want. Located next to the flood chute ushering the Hoosic River through the museum campus, it’s a prime North Adam relaxation spot.
"It’s a cool little nook at Mass MoCA," said Jason Griffin, site manager. "Even on the really hot afternoons when we open up, there’s usually just a nice breeze blowing through there."
There’s rarely food at the Beer Chalet, but that’s part of its success and mantra: Keep it simple. There’s select beer, select wine, the booze basics -- vodka, gin, rum, bourbon -- and an eclectic gathering of people.
"It’s definitely a younger crowd, but there are some local business people that stop in earlier in the night. Some people will come in for a drink after work when it opens at 5. Kids are around, out on the grass, having fun. People show up on bicycles."
The space opened in 2011, part of an art project by the Bureau for Open Culture, which conceived the space as a beer garden to generate income to support the work. Offered that summer were cans of Genny Cream Ale and some Berkshire Brewing Company drafts.
In 2012, as part of the Oh Canada show, artist Dean Baldwin fashioned a rustic A-frame to serve as a bar within Building 8. Molson became the on-tap beer, but special nights with Baldwin serving drinks in coconuts also happened.
"There are pop-up concerts happening," Griffin said. "Sometimes it’s at the last minute. There’s always at least a DJ. One of the MoCA DJs will come and spin for us. Sarah Lee Guthrie did a last-minute show one night. A couple different nights, a band that was in town came in and asked if they could play a little mini-concert. They had all their equipment, so that was an off the cuff last-minute thing. It was a pretty good time."
This summer, Bang on a Can will do two after-hours concerts there, on July 31 and Aug. 1. Griffin said they will have at least two beers on tap and might be adding a couple other options.
It will be open Thursday through Saturday.
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