You’d think after a few years of prolonged development largely centered around archaic zoning laws in Cambridge going back half a century, the fires fueling AC Jones and Cayla Marvil to bring Lamplighter Brewing to the same beer-friendly neighborhood where Lord Hobo and Cambridge Brewing Company reign supreme would have dimmed by now. And you’d be wrong.
The pair moved to Cambridge in 2012, and after being surrounded by a plethora of small craft breweries during their time living in Vermont, Marvil and Jones we were shocked at how few breweries there were actually in their new city.
“We came from a town with about seven thousand people and four breweries,” says Jones. “So we joked about it from the start, saying, ‘Hey, maybe we should build one here,’ and over time it looked like it was a good idea.”
Being avid beer fans (both are graduates of the brewing program from the Siebel Institute, which is the oldest brewing school in the nation and has been in operation since 1872), they began seeking out available real estate in the area to eventually bring Lamplighter into being. Problem was, the pickin’s were rather slim for the kind of operation they had in mind.
“The biggest challenge was working on the location for the brewery,” says Jones. “It’s been incredibly difficult to find a place to open a brewery in Cambridge, so we are incredibly fortunate and excited about the locations we’ve found. That’s been our primary focus now for about a year, nailing down where we’d actually be.”
Ultimately, Jones says that there just weren’t a lot of buildings in this area where they could get their brewhouse going, considering their operation won’t be massive at first (they’ll be a 20-barrel brewhouse with a 40-barrel fermenter), but won’t fall under the nano brewery category, either. “We don’t want to start too small,” says Jones. “We’re going as big as we can afford at first.”
But don’t expect another brewpub or a full service restaurant. Lamplighter will be a 35-seat taproom and facility to test pilot batches, a lively space for people to come in and sample suds from the source (and yes, they will have a growler program). But like all new endeavors, it starts with the first step. And in this case, that first step—finding an actual place to do all this—has been achieved, in spite of the dearth of convenient locales.
“A lot of spaces we were looking at was in Alewife, and that’s just too far out for us. Didn’t want to be all the way out there,” says Jones. “So it was more about finding the needle in the haystack, and the building we ended up in in Cambridge is a few blocks away from our house which we walk by all the time. Eventually we said, ‘This place is fantastic’ and it went from there.”
Jones says it’s too early to get into the details about the beers they’ll definitely be starting with, but besides being a big IPA head (who isn’t?), he says he’s a huge fan of everything Fort Point’s Trillium Brewing—known for its killer farmhouse style and pale ales—is putting out. Jones and Marvil have already teamed up with a head brewer who cut his brewing teeth at Mass breweries (Wormtown, Mystic, Cape Cod Brewing), and construction on the space (currently an auto body shop) is slated to begin in fall.