Every cliché about Valentine’s Day, whether you love it, hate it, or don’t care about it, has already been written. And so has every story about Valentine’s Day and beer. There’s beer and chocolate pairings, desserts made with beers, the best beers to drink on Valentine’s Day—all of which are well and good in their own time. But in the spirit of showing some love, I wanted to get straight to the heart of it (no pun intended) and talk about what we’re excited about right now in the Boston/Massachusetts beer scene—
whether it’s beers we have crushes on, new bar and tap rooms to haunt, or some sexy pieces of legislation.
TASTING ROOMS AND BEER HALLS
Having more places to drink good beer is nice; having more places to drink fresh beer straight from the source is even better. Harpoon Brewery’s beer hall opened earlier this month, to much fanfare, and for good reason. Harpoon has brought drinking beer with friends back to the basics: long wooden tables, baked pretzels, and fresh beer. They offer 20 varieties on tap, including some test batches; I heard the Imperial Saison was quite tasty.
Mystic Brewery is also on the verge of opening a tasting room in their fermentorium in Chelsea. The spacious room will feature Mystic beers you’ve come to love, as well as brewery-only releases like the amazing Roswell, an 8.6 percent Imperial IPA, but the draft list is subject to change, says Mystic Sales Rep Nicole Mandala. Get a taste of beers on site after a tour of the space or fill a 64 or 32-ounce growler to go.
The room opens to the public on Saturday, Feb. 16, noon to 5 p.m., for tastings, tours, and growler fills. Regular hours will be Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. to start. To begin with, tours will be given on Saturdays at 1 p.m., and tour plus tasting will be $6 ($1 of which goes to a local charity), and includes a glass to take home, says Mandala.
THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR BREWING
Women have made their mark on Boston’s beer scene, between Massachusetts Girls’ Pint Out and the Boston Area Beer Enthusiasts Society (BABES), and now women in the beer industry are joining in too. Kelly McKnight, brewer at Watch City Brewing Company in Waltham, is creating a local chapter of the Pink Boots Society, an organization for women working in the beer industry, from brewers to sales reps to lab scientists and bartenders. McKnight says she is still working out the details, but plans on having the first Boston Chapter meeting during the American Craft Beer Festival. Watch City also recently brewed a collaboration beer with BABES, a Belgian Trippel called BABES Trippel Play.
AN ACT OF LOVE (AND LEGISLATION)
Several new, or reintroduced, pieces of legislation are being pushed forward by Massachusetts state senators and congressmen. State Sen. James Eldridge (D-Acton) has filed SD1118, an act that would expand sale of products by farmer-breweries and would allow farmer-breweries to obtain a license to sell beer at indoor or outdoor agricultural events—namely, farmers markets. That means more opportunities for local brewers to sell their stuff, and more chances for consumers to support Massachusetts brewers.
Nationally, Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Springfield) is stewarding the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (Small BREW Act) along with Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.). The bipartisan bill would reduce the excise tax rate of small breweries by 50 percent, allowing brewers to invest more money in expansion and job creation. Neal and Gerlach were recently recognized as Legislators of the Year by the Brewers Association, so give Neal a call and congratulate him, then call your Senators and Representatives in Congress and ask them to support it too.