Situated in the middle of a small one-story industrial complex on route 138, Blue Hills Brewery of Canton is a far cry from the facilities of more established breweries. Any modesty contained within stays out of the drinks though, because these ales hold their own against offerings from larger craft brewers that have been around for decades.
I was greeted in the front of the brewery by office manager Jim O’Neil, along with Founder & Head Brewer Andris Veidis. We all sat down at a table to talk, but not before we each had a pint in hand. I went with Black Hops, one of BHB’s most noteworthy options. The black ale poured like a liquid shadow, with about 2” of off-white foam that gradually subsided. The taste was smooth and chocolaty-dark, with a sizable dash of hops.
“This brewery’s still pretty new, but it was a long time coming, and is the result of several years of planning.” Veidis explains his checkered past over our pints—how he got his humble beginnings as an unpaid brewing intern with Harpoon, then learned to install brewing equipment with brewery tank manufacturers throughout the eastern US. He eventually back to MA to brew for a popular local brewpub in 2000, all leading up to when planning for BHB finally began around 2004.
After developing a business plan, securing funding and researching locations, Veidis decided on the current location in Canton. “I scouted locations for 3 years, and it all boiled down to three things: location, location, location,” he explains. After signing the lease in March 2008, the first batch of Blue Hills IPA would be brewed in January 2009. The rest is history.
With a name tying them so closely to the region, BHB has wasted no time earning serious local respect in the two short years they’ve been in operation. Of course, you get what you give, and in that manner Blue Hills deserves every bit they receive.
O’Neil tells me a few events and causes they’ve helped recently— the Mass. Audubon Society, Bridgewater Art, Nemo’s Steampunk Gallery, and even a benefit for a farm in Sharon that recently burnt down. “We’re a very community-minded organization, and this is a great way for us, as a small brewery, to get our name out there while helping our neighbors at the same time.”
Veidis adds, “Brewing is definitely an art. We could compare each style of art to a style of beer, for example, IPAs. There are so many IPAs out there now; they’re the equivalent of seeing a picture of a bowl of fruit or a naked person.” Not to offend anyone, he continues, “Of course, like each artist, every brewery gives us their own interpretation of the style and subject.”
Their commitment to local artists and strong community spirit (not to mention the fact they brew some exceptional beverages) is fueling rapid growth. Veidis is hopeful they can surpass 2400-barrel mark (almost quadrupling their 2009 output) by the end of 2011. To keep up with demand, they’re installing a third 20-barrel fermenter, which should be ready in time for summer. Don’t worry— Veidis promises to tweet about its first batch.
[Blue Hills Brewery will be pouring samples Saturday, 2.26 from 6-8PM at Bridgewater Art's Featured Artist Reception. 50 Central Square, Bridgewater MA. (508) 279.0707]