In the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, a larger number of breweries started opening up in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, due to the water supply from the Stony Brook aquifer and wells and the availability of cheap land. According to Michael Reiskind, who has researched the history of Boston beer, German and Irish immigrants most likely followed these breweries, and moved into the neighborhood. They worked as brewers, delivery persons, barrel makers, and most lived within walking distance of the breweries. The breweries—of which there were more than 20—brewed German-style lagers and English-style ales consumed in local taverns and watering holes across Boston.
More than 100 years later you can still see the influence breweries have on Boston—Harpoon’s investment in the South Boston waterfront, Trillium Brewing’s integration with the start-up and artist community in Fort Point, the business that Night Shift and Idle Hands bring to Everett, Boston Beer Co.’s support of local businesses through their Brewing the American Dream Program.
Location can influence beer, and beer can influence a place.
Local beer matters not just because it is often guaranteed fresher, but because we crave confirmation of our city or neighborhood’s identity, and beer can provide that.
It’s why we choose ‘Gansett over PBR, why the Chelsea liquor store down the street from Mystic Brewery couldn’t keep their beer in stock when they first opened, and why we like to know that a beer we’re drinking is made with locally malted grain from a Massachusetts farm.
It’s why for this issue, the craft beer issue, we wanted to look at Greater Boston’s breweries and beers, how they’ve changed, and where they’re going. Give it a read, then visit your local brewery—because you can.
HONEST PINT PRESENTS:
FROM BEER TO ETERNITY