Craft beer can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.
For some, it’s a burgeoning movement. For others, it’s a phrase highlighting a life spent toiling for the greater good of discerning beer drinkers everywhere. And to others still, it’s a catch-all phrase suggesting that whatever suds fall under that category are intrinsically better than the typical swill that dominated the US beer scene for years. And wouldn’t you know it: All of the above are right.
So here it is, your 2015 Craft Beer spread. Best enjoyed with your favorite pint, naturally.
A reminder that your next craft beer growler harvest could be an MBTA or Zipcar ride away.
You really don’t need a reason to head to a local brewery to fill up a giant jug of their delicious beer, but if you do, let the relatively close proximity of these spots be that reason.
Aeronaut Brewing Co.
Get there: MBTA
Fills: 32 ounce
Go-to fill: A Session With Dr. Nandu American Pale Ale
14 Tyler St., Somerville. aeronautbrewing.com
Cape Ann Brewing Co.
Get there: Car
Fills: They have 64-ounce growlers but fill both 32- and 64-ounce jugs
Go-to fill: Fisherman’s Brew, Fisherman’s IPA
11 Rogers St., Gloucester. capeannbrewing.com
CBC: Cambridge Brewing Co.
Get there: MBTA
Fills: 64 ounce and 22-ounce bombers
Go-to fill: Cambridge Amber or Tall Tale Pale Ale
1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge. cambridgebrewingcompany.com
Deadwood Café & Brewery
Get there: MBTA or car
Fills: 64 ounce
Go-to fill: Deadwood IPA or Hefeweizen
Get there: MBTA
Fills: 64 ounce using an Austrian-manufactured filler system
Go-to fill: Any of the special releases found only at the tap room
306 Northern Ave., Boston. harpoonbrewery.com
Riverwalk Brewing Co.
Get there: Car
Fills: 32 ounce and 500 ml
Go-to fill: Gnomad Belgian style Ale
3 Graf Rd., Newburyport. riverwalkbrewing.com
Trillium Brewing Co.
Get there: MBTA
Fills: 32 ounce and 64 ounce
Go-to fill: Congress Street IPA or Fort Point Pale Ale
369 Congress St., Boston. trilliumbrewing.com
John Harvard’s Brewery
Get there: MBTA
Fills: 24-, 32-, and 64-ounce fills; glass or stainless steel
Go-to fill: Arrow IPA or Dunster Pale Ale
33 Dunster St., Cambridge. johnharvards.com
Beloved transient local craft brewery inks deal on permanent home and taproom north of Boston
Two years ago, a few years after Notch Brewing owner Chris Lohring brought the session-beer powerhouse (in the making) to life, plans to find a permanent home for the brewery began in earnest. At the time, Lohring had been brewing in loaned space within Mercury Brewing Company out of Ipswich as well as in Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut, and as the brand’s popularity grew locally, he saw the need to zero in on his own house. And now that the ink has dried on the contracts, Notch will be bringing its first ever brewery and taproom to 283 Derby Street in Lohring’s home turf of Salem, Mass.
“It’s a project I wanted to take my time with and make sure I did right,” says Lohring. “The licensing climate [in Boston] is kind of bizarre, but I wanted to bring something to support local business, and Salem is really keyed into craft beer.”
The space will have that off-the-beaten-path feel (don’t worry, it’s only a 10-minute walk from the Boston ferry), and once the 5,000-square-foot facility and brewpub opens in March 2016 (along with its forthcoming beer garden), Lohring says he’ll be able to stretch his legs a bit and really get down to maintaining production of his marquee beers—and dip his toes into the waters that have until now been out of reach due to the lack of a permanent home.
“I like to brew lagers, but the whole history of Session beer is connected to the Czech Republic and even Germany,” says Lohring. “I want to be able to showcase a lot of the things I haven’t been able to produce in any quantity. What people should understand is that session beer … it’s not just ‘session IPA.’ There [are] dozens of styles we can brew that other breweries embrace, but we just haven’t yet.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT NOTCHBREWING.COM
A few questions for Bone Up Brewing’s founder Jared Kiraly
Any time a new brewery plants its flag in the greater Boston area, it’s a reason to rejoice. And over the last several years, it’s an occurrence that’s been happening with increased frequency. Now that Everett will soon be home to the Bone Up Brewing Co. (just down the street from fellow Everett brewers and local craft beer darlings Night Shift), I decided to check in with on what to expect from the soon-to-open taproom.
Describe Bone Up for the uninitiated.
We’re a tiny brewery; been working on it a year now. It’s not a term I use, but we’re at the upper end at what most people define as a “nano” brewery. We have a three-barrel system, probably looking at doing two batches a week, so about 300 barrels a year.
Give me a brief tour of your background.
I’ve been brewing at home for 11 years now—moved up to Boston to take a job at Harpoon for a year and a half. [Got] most of my experience locally, helped Chris [Tkach] at Idle Hands brew once or twice; Idle Hands started a little smaller than what we’re starting with. Then I went into [the] service side of industry. I met my wife while working together at Sunset Grill + Tap in Allston. She’s been brewing with me at home for two years now. And she will be taking over production side.
What’s the big picture for your beers?
We go for classic American styles, very drinkable and approachable. We incorporate a lot of Belgian aspects and Belgian yeast, but it’s America so you gotta have hops. We have one year-round IPA, and some coming up that are seasonal and one-offs as well.
What will you be launching with?
We’re going to start with year-rounds [and] have a wheat beer hoping to get out before summer is over. I’m a big fan of porters, so [we’ll have] one of those year-round. And my favorite of the four [is] a premium cream ale. Light, easy to drink, crisp, like a pilsner but [also] like a saison. Hard to pitch to people, but it’s delicious.
Will the outdoor beer garden be open right away?
When we first start up we’re going to focus on taproom. The outdoor seating won’t be open for [the] first couple weeks, for permitting reasons. We’re hoping it’ll be a draw [and] bring people in to talk about our beer. We’re excited, and we want to spread that.
Hopster’s Brew and Boards opening a local craft beer packie in forthcoming Boston Public Market
As if you needed another reason to celebrate the arrival of the Boston Public Market, the ambitious 28,000-square-foot indoor market with over 35 local farmers, fisherman, and food producers slated to open at the end of July, you now have one more. Hopster’s Brew and Boards, the Newton make-your-own hooch-ery, is opening Hopster’s Alley within the complex. It’s carved out a small concrete enclave within the layout, and will be stocking all manner of local beer, spirits, and cider for the retail-only storefront. Expect to find suds from the likes of Mystic Brewing, Backlash Beer, Allagash Brewing Company, Idle Hands, and Element Brewing.
I spoke with Hopster’s Ben Plotkin about his thoughts on some of the selection to come:
Mystic Brewing (Chelsea, MA): While Mystic’s lineup of quality farmhouse ales is pretty well-known in the Boston area, I’d guess that slightly fewer people are familiar with their excellent English IPA, their ESB—a very good example of a style not often seen at all on these shores—or Entropy, their monster of a barleywine, uncarbonated and oak-aged. Bryan & Co. even produce a series of beers, the Vinland series, fermented with yeast cultures native to New England. The point is, there’s so much creativity at work at Mystic, and so much of it yields excellent results. They’ve recently teamed up with Will Meyer of Cambridge Brewing to start dedicated production of spontaneously fermented wild ales, and I’m already salivating at the thought.
Backlash Beer (Boston, MA): It’s not often that a brewery decides, three years into its life, to suddenly stop producing the vast majority of their lineup and release a bunch of entirely new recipes into the market—but that’s the kind of attitude that I think makes Backlash great. Never mind the fact that Helder makes some of the best IPAs in Massachusetts plus a rock-solid imperial stout and Belgian blonde—his refusal to compromise his vision for his brewery and his beer is what makes Backlash really stand out to me in the local market.
Allagash Brewing (Portland, ME): I can honestly say that I’ve never had an Allagash beer that I didn’t like. From their flagship White to their crazy Coolship and oak-aged sour one-offs, Allagash is the very definition of consistent excellence across a range of styles for me. Add to that their commitment to environmental sustainability in brewing and the awesome charitable work they do in the Portland community, and you have a truly exemplary operation in more ways than one. Doesn’t hurt that everyone I’ve met from the company seems to love working there.
Booze + craft beer = really interesting booze
The Rhode Island-based spirit company Sons of Liberty has been making waves since hitting the scene with its first-ever line of seasonal whiskies that use beer grains and ingredients during the manufacturing process. Their most recent is a Genever-style gin called Belgian Wheat Act, crafted as a quadruple-distilled spirit created from Belgian wheat beer, and is the first in its new line of “True Born Gin” products distilled from craft-style beers. Belgian Wheat Act is made in 250-gallon copper pot stills and has notes of hops, lemongrass, coriander, and sweet orange peel. The company is already distributing it around town, so head to solspirits.com to find the closest spot to you.
A few beer-minded events to get on your calendar
JOHNNY APPLESEED CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL
What: Outdoor tent-based beer soiree with over 25 breweries (Two Roads, Newburyport Brewing, Wormtown) and endless 2-ounce samples.
When: Aug 1, 4-8pm
Where: Downtown Leominster, Mass
CAPE COD BREWFEST
What: Over 75 American craft microbrewers (Peak Brewing, 21st Amendment, Cape Cod Brewing) with live music and local food trucks on hand.
When: Sept 26, 3:30-7pm
Where: Cape Cod Fairgrounds, Falmouth, Mass
What: 25 breweries with multiple styles on hand (Jack’s Abbey, Naukabout, Clown Shoes), three live bands, and Boston-based food trucks.
When: Aug 22, 3:30-7:30pm
Where: Cordage Park Pier, Plymouth, Mass
MASS BREWERS FEST
What: Over 30 Mass Brewers Guild producers (Notch, Riverwalk, Somerville Brewing) and over 100 beers, including special styles brewed just for this event.
When: Sept 4, 6-9:30pm
Where: World Trade Center, Boston, Mass