The Fermentation District, a stretch of boozy businesses in Everett, is on the tongues of many local drinkers these days. It’s basically a self-guided bar crawl: Night Shift Brewing, the block’s resident gargantuan, is based there, as is Short Path Distillery, known for its small-batch spirits and cocktail bar. Down The Road Brewing Company is even setting roots in the area before too long, albeit not technically in the Fermentation District.
To taste the final force in the area’s alcohol triad, though, a trip later in the week is required — Thursday through Sunday. That’s when a garage door donning a mustachioed skull cracks open, letting the smell of spent grain and hops escape into the air. That’s when Bone Up Brewing Company is open for business.
Without trekking to the brewery’s taproom, nestled just blocks away from Night Shift, it’s hard to find the spot’s off-kilter ales. Even now, as Bone Up celebrates its first birthday, no bottles or cans sit in stores; only a few draft accounts are scattered around the Boston area.
Despite that, the brewery has quite a following. Throngs of people flocked to Bone Up’s one year anniversary party on Saturday, August 26, to enjoy small-batch beers, whole pigs, and beer-infused ice cream sandwiches. But while drinkers soaked up the day’s festivities, co-founders Jared and Liz Kiraly were preparing for year two.
Before long, the two will debut what they’ve been scheming. Within weeks, Bone Up will expand brewing operations by 50 percent with a few new tanks and fermentors. Not long after, the brewery plans to extend its hours to include Wednesdays and to have longer Thursday hours. Right now, Bone Up is only open briefly on Thursdays and through most of the weekend.
All of these additions are in the interest of the brewery’s brick-and-mortar. Since Bone Up opened, the Kiralys have forgone distribution for cultivating a quirky taproom experience: A Metallica pinball machine rests in the corner of their space, coloring pages are strewn about, and bags of chips are grouped behind the bar. A giant logo at the entrance proclaiming each beer is “made with ingredients” seems to tie it all together.
“We’re small,” Liz Kiraly says. “We like it that way.”
With that mantra behind them, the Kiralys have expressed their eccentricity through beers like the Extra Naked cream ale, Shut Up Kelly! porter, and Wasted Life IPA. There’s also a weekly cask program of ales rested on exotic hops, like Vojvodina and HBC 472, which provide the final push locals need to become full-fledged regulars.
“We like to focus on hops that we feel are not well-known, are under-appreciated, or are historically important, instead of stuff that’s more trendy,” Liz Kiraly says.
Bone Up only plans to add to that roster. This September, watch out for more single-hop ales, cask offerings, and the return of a few fan favorites, like the Oh My! throwback IPA. Other upcoming releases include Test Drive, a roasted oat amber that would mark Bone Up’s first beer on its new equipment. Not long after, an all-local take on the Extra Naked cream ale, aptly named So Nude, will make its debut.
Bone Up has produced 44 beers like these over the past year and brewed over 100 batches of beer as of July (the Kiralys say they’re at around batch 115 now.)
“We’re so much better at our jobs now,” Liz Kiraly quipped, looking back on the early days of the brewery.
There also are plenty of hopes the Kiralys harbor for the near future. A few long-term goals include securing more space in their building for brewing operations, adding a barrel-aging program, and tacking on a few more draft accounts. Or, as they put it, just “more of everything.”
“We’ve been brewing like crazy for the last year, made a ton of new friends, and look forward to continue doing that,” Liz Kiraly says.
The only thing not high up on the Kiraly’s list of to-dos is offering their beer in stores. They are, however, elevating their on-site sales with a new way to bring beer home. They’re calling them “Big Stupid Cans”: 25.4-ounce containers Liz likened to the oil cans in which Foster’s packages its lager. These cans will serve as an alternative to growlers and will run around $8 per fill.
“They’ll be like crowler-style cans, but a bit smaller,” Liz Kiraly says. “I might even zip-tie two three-packs together, if people really want it.”
It’s one of many exciting developments the brewery has in store. The Kiralys were both devout homebrewers before opening Bone Up, but they didn’t come from seasoned establishments. Liz is a former graphic designer, and Jared is a former software engineer. That being said, the Kiralys still aren’t sure if their first year in the beer business went by too fast or too slow. But they know they wouldn’t change a thing about it.
“We’re just glad people like it — that they come back, bring their friends, drink a couple of beers, [and] color on our coloring pages,” Liz Kiraly says.
This story is part of Beer & Mortar, a series in which Eater Boston contributor Alex Wilking explores the brewery scene in Boston and beyond. Stay tuned for new installments twice a month, featuring a mix of old classics and brand new additions.