The Somerville brewery canned its way through the pandemic and kept things unpredictable
One dynamic that keeps craft beer so inventive and exciting around here is the fact that there is always someone and something new and awesome arriving behind you. Having been around since 2018, at this point Remnant Brewing is no rookie, but the Somerville outfit is certainly one of the hot new cans on the block, especially since up until right before the pandemic, they weren’t selling cans at all.
We had a truly tasty visit with General Manager Brittany Lajoie and Head Brewer Charlie Cummings in their neighborhood taproom, which also sells incredible coffee. In addition to their flagship Dream Pop Dry Hopped Pale Ale, they poured us a sour with blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and lactose that we’re still dreaming about several days later. Like most of their beers, it was somewhat undefinable, futile to classify; as it turns out, that’s all part of the plan.
What were some of the biggest changes for you during the pandemic?
Brittany: Canning was a big pivot
Charlie: We had just started 16-ounce cans [right before the pandemic]. Canning hadn’t really been an option—look at our space, we don’t really have room to have a canning line. You wouldn’t think so at least. But once COVID happened we were able to get Iron Heart mobile canning in here. We do it right in the taproom—we put a tarp down, and they bring the canning line right in here.
Brittany: It’s been great during this time of obviously lower attendance and lower sales, but with every batch we brew, we’ve been able to split it and have half of it for draft and half in cans. So we’ve been able to keep everything moving and keep it fresh. We have drafts, but there are cans for people to grab as they go as well.
What’s been especially important for your team in building the Remnant brand?
Charlie: We wanted to be a community space where everyone can just come and chill and have a good time, especially local people in Somerville. And we also wanted to make beers that I know I can do well and that I love.
What were some of the ideas you were chasing specifically?
Charlie: Honestly I love everything, so there’s not just one type of beer that we do. The juicy, New England-style IPAs, we love doing them a little different than most other breweries. They all have their own stamp on it. We also love saisons, we love sours. A lot of people come in here just for sours.
What has changed now that you have a live audience again?
Brittany: Our Bow Street Session is a really good example of who we are. It’s really hard to classify—it’s a low ABV, balanced beer. You drink that beer and you’re like, That’s really good, but what kind of beer is it?
Charlie: I’m not trying to make beers to fit beer styles. We get ideas for beer that sound good, and we just make them, not because we’re trying to make a certain style.
Brittany: But as for what changed, even during COVID, we thought it was important to talk to people and for people to talk to us about beer. A lot of our guests sit down, and especially with QR codes, no one really wants to scan and look like that. They just want to ask, What’s good here? What are you known for? It opens that door to be like, OK, awesome, this is who we are, we have IPAs, we have sours, what do you want?
But what are you typically recommending people try first?
Brittany: The Dream Pop.
Charlie: We don’t have one beer that really sells better than the others really here, which is cool. After a really busy night we’ll look at the numbers and there will be like four or five beers that all sold around the same.
And for people who aren’t close to the taproom?
They’ll see it on drafts and in cans, probably our Hang Time [New England IPA].