Ever since the pilgrims washed up ashore, Boston has been drinking beer. At first it was because the golden nectar was safer for human consumption than water, and then people realized that they could get really, really fun-drunk off of it – handy, in a city full of repressed Puritans. Now the beer scene is a totally different animal. With new microbrews cropping up and the pioneers of Boston brewing, Harpoon and Sam Adams, at the helm, there’s really no shortage of drinking holes in Beantown. Handy, in a city full of Bruins and Red Sox fans. So for a taste of something old, something new, something borrowed and something brewed, direct that palate over to Boston.
No Boston beer tour is without a stop at the brewery that put Boston on the brewmap. Located in the friendly residential Stony Brook neighborhood in the Jamaica Plain area. The country’s largest craft beer company actually shares its production with two other facilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and their flagship makes less than 1% of the beer, but it makes up the important 1% – the new lines. Visitors get to learn about how Jim Koch, one brewmaster in a long lineage of brewmasters, started widely distributing craft beer from scratch, going door to door to different Boston bars; as well as the art of beer-making and beer tasting. Afterwards, visitors get to sit down and sample some of the long list of beers made by Sam Adams.
Trillium is the most distinct out of the three Boston breweries: much smaller than its neighbors Harpoon and Sam Adams, Trillium is family owned and operated and only sells farm-style growlers from their brewery in Fort Point Channel. Beer fans are likely to find surprising ingredients in their beers: house farmhouse yeast and American hops in the fruity, peppery Farmhouse Ale, citrus zest and tropical fruit in the malty and nourishing-never-heavy Pot & Kettle porter, and autumnal fruits in a rye-centric Wakerobin red ale. Visitors to their small but lively brewery, with a bar lined with reclaimed wood, can sample their lines and take home a growler or five.
With such celebrity former clientele as George Washington and Paul Revere, Warren Tavern might be the most historic watering hole in the country. Diners and thirsty travelers see this fairly quickly: its wooden beams, old-growth pine floorboards and antique trinkets all hint at a history that reaches as far bas as 1780. The tavern is everything Boston locals wants it to be: it’s a jammin’ brunch spot, a Friday night singles’ destination, an ideal place to throw down over the Bruins, weekly setting for Monday night trivia, and a friendly family restaurant through dinner hour. Serving all kinds of local brews and wine, there’s certainly something for everyone to be found in the rich and storied Warren Tavern.
One of the first known figures of the Pub Brewery movement, the Cambridge Brewing Company entered the scene in 1989 armed with new American and experimental beer styles and a New England sense of culinary instinct. The CBC, as its called, were the first commercial brewery in the country to produce Belgian beer, and its barrel cellar was a new innovation at the time, creating wood aged beers and using micro flora to enhance flavors. Located in a refurbished mill building, with high cathedral ceilings, exposed brick, tons of natural lights and a sprawling patio, this brewpub is a must-try for a pint of something new and delicious and simple, classic and seasonal grub.
The Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall sets their tourists up with beer and pretzels right from the get-go, while the walk through the large and many-vatted brewery shows exactly where the beers come from. For $5, visitors get a complimentary five ounce glass and throughout the tour, that glass gets replenished with everything they’re working on – started with the original Harpoon I.P.A, moving onto an unfiltered UFO-I.P.A, and even more beer in the tasting room. Visitors also get a look inside the bottling room and see how beer is kegged as well as the warehouse, where the final product is stored. Beer lovers who really want to see the real deal and drink up as much beer as time allows are fully encouraged to hit up Harpoon, the casual and laid-back wellspring of good times and great beer.