As the Massachusetts beer scene continues its fast-paced growth, we’re tracking beer-related news bites right here: brewery openings and closures, links to interesting features from other publications, and more. (We’re throwing in some cider, wine, and liquor news for good measure, too.) This piece is updated most Thursdays, and the most recent additions are at the top. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any Massachusetts booze news that should be on our radar.
Check out our 2019 archive of beer news here.
March 12, 2020
BOSTON AND BEYOND — At the beginning of the year (see January 2 update below), Backlash Beer Company announced the closure of its Roxbury brewery and taproom, promising that the company would continue on, returning to how it had started — as a contract brand. “You’ll still be able to find our beer on the shelves of your local beer shop and on draft in Massachusetts, Maine, and beyond,” Backlash said at the time. The brewers have been quiet since then but reemerged on Instagram this week with an update on the transition back to contract brewing, noting that a partnership is now in place with RiverWalk Brewing Co. in Newburyport. Plus, Backlash is now on tap at Time Out Market Boston in Fenway, with more distribution coming soon.
CAMBRIDGE — Point Five Brewing, a Cambridge-based company from MIT alum Ronan McGovern, is now selling its non-alcoholic beer, Point 5, online. The pilsner is available in 12-packs of bottles, and McGovern is planning to announce further distribution over the course of the year.
CHARLEMONT — Stoneman Brewery — which has been around since 2012, brewing with nearly 100% local ingredients and selling beer via a CSA program — is crowdsourcing investments via the Mainvest platform in order to open a new brewery in Charlemont, Massachusetts, on the grounds of the Warfield House Inn. The plan is to run a beer garden along the Deerfield River in the warmer months; the beer garden could open around May or June this year, with the brewery itself following around the fall.
Owner and brewer Justin Korby started operating out of a tiny space in Colrain in 2012, opening one day a month for CSA members and the general public to get their beer, later discontinuing the CSA and beginning to contract brew to keep up with local distribution around Western Massachusetts. Finding a new space has been a long time coming; keep an eye on Stoneman’s social media for updates on the Charlemont brewery.
NEW HAMPSHIRE — Good news for New Hampshire beer lovers: BareWolf Brewing, out of Amesbury, Massachusetts, has expanded its distribution to New Hampshire. The brewery, which has been open since mid-2017, produces a rotating array of lagers, ales, sours, wilds, and more.
February 27, 2020
BELMONT — Craft Beer Cellar’s original location (51 Leonard St., Belmont) is moving (just a tiny bit) into a larger space at 75 Leonard St. this spring, taking over part of the former Foodie’s Market space, where it will sell an expanded selection of beer and wine, as well as snacks, cured meats, and cheeses. Now a chain of beer shops with franchises across the country, Craft Beer Cellar first opened on Leonard Street a decade ago. The new Belmont location could open in May.
BOSTON — Two well-known Boston brands, Harpoon Brewery and Mike’s Pastry, have combined forces to release a cannoli-inspired stout together, logically dubbed Harpoon Mike’s Pastry Cannoli Stout. The limited release is brewed with Mike’s cannoli shells, as well as cocoa nibs, lactose, and vanilla, and it rings in at 7.3% ABV.
It’s available (for now) at Harpoon’s beer hall in the Seaport District (306 Northern Ave., Boston) and throughout New England and beyond. For each case sold, the companies are donating a portion of proceeds to a charity chosen by Mike’s Pastry — Christmas in the City, a Boston nonprofit that provides financial support to families experiencing poverty and homelessness.
WAREHAM — Lucky Goat Brewing hopes to open Wareham’s first brewery and recently raised nearly $60,000 via community investment platform Mainvest to renovate a former fish market space at 379 Main St. Friends and homebrewers Kendall Peabody, Aaron Perry, and Caitlin Hurd are behind the project, with Perry acting as head brewer and planning to produce classic styles as well as “interesting and cutting edge recipes.” The taproom and brewery is expecting to have a substantial seasonal patio.
February 13, 2020
EVERYWHERE-ISH — 2020 is shaping up to be a banner year for breweries in Massachusetts: At least 49 breweries intend to open this year. Some of those breweries will be entirely new ventures (24, to be exact), while the others are existing breweries that are expanding.
Among those expansions is Lord Hobo, the Woburn-based purveyor of heavy-hitting IPAs. It’s eyeing the Seaport for its humongous new brewery, restaurant, and taproom.
The North Shore’s Newburyport Brewing intends to open two new breweries in 2020, one of which will be “an experimental test kitchen for delicious beer” at the forthcoming High Street Place food hall in downtown Boston. Newburyport Brewing is also waiting on approval to start construction on a new brewery and taproom to replace its current location.
Sticking with the North Shore and north-of-Boston vibe: Backbeat Brewing in Beverly and Faces Brewing in Malden are both on the verge of opening. Backbeat will function as a micro-brewery and taproom, while Faces will function as a brewpub. Rockport Brewing Company could begin distributing to communities on Cape Ann by March, while Gloucester is getting a brewpub and bowling alley in the form of Cape Ann Lanes. Read more on all the forthcoming developments from Mass. Brew Bros.
MARLBOROUGH — A Marlborough space containing a home brew shop and two breweries is closing. Strange Brew Home Brew, Strange Brewery, and Tackle Box Brewing are all going out of business. Brian Powers, the owner of Strange Brew Home Brewing — which has been open for 22 years — told the MetroWest Daily News that he ran out of money.
Powers opened a taproom called Strange Brewery in a space adjacent to the home brewing shop in 2018; another brewery called Tackle Box Brewing opened inside the building in 2019. Tackle Box Brewing owner Adam Krasinski told the MetroWest Daily News that he was shocked by the closure, and that he expects litigation to follow. Both owners hope to reopen their breweries somewhere, eventually.
January 30, 2020
CAMBRIDGE — Western Massachusetts-based cider company Artifact Cider Project is expanding to Cambridge, opening a Central Square taproom at an undisclosed address as early as spring 2020. “Having a brick and mortar presence on both sides of our state will give us new opportunities to experiment, collaborate, and make cider that celebrates the Northeast and the people who live here,” the company posted on Instagram. And Artifact is no stranger to this part of the state — it operated out of Everett for a time.
Production will continue to occur in Florence, Massachusetts, but Cambridge taproom visitors will find a variety of samples and pints on tap. There could be snacks of some kind, too.
DOWNTOWN BOSTON — As mentioned in the January 16 update below, today is opening day for the downtown Sam Adams taproom (60 State St., Boston), which has been in the works for over two years. The massive, multi-story space has multiple bars and a patio, serves some beers exclusive to this location, and offers some food, such as sausages and pretzels.
EVERETT — Night Shift Brewing is celebrating its eighth birthday, gifting itself Birthday Beer, a limited-release double dry-hopped double IPA, and throwing itself a party (at the Everett taproom, 87 Santilli Hwy.) on February 1 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Night Shift’s founders will be working the bar in the Annex for part of the afternoon, and there will be complimentary two-ounce pours of some old favorites, cake, games, two new beers in addition to Birthday Beer, and more. (Fans might also wish to return the next day for a Puppy Bowl viewing party.)
NEW ENGLAND — An increasing number of New England breweries — including Honest Weight Artisan Beer and East Regiment Beer Co. — are trying out new eco-friendly can carriers that are compostable. New Hampshire-based mobile canning company State 64 is offering them as an option for its customers and expects that more breweries will be trying them soon.
SOMERVILLE — Winter Hill Brewing Company has always served food, but recently it took things to the next level with the addition of kitchen team Scott Brothers Meats. Now they’ve debuted their first lunch and dinner menus at the brewery, featuring pickles, preserves, and sausages made in-house. They’re serving food from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Here’s the opening menu:
WOBURN — Here’s a sneak peek at renderings of the planned upgrade of Lord Hobo’s 5 Draper St. taproom and brewery in Woburn, which will double the facility’s seating capacity and add a second bar, an additional kitchen, and a large patio. The brewery will remain open during renovations, if all goes as planned.
January 16, 2020
DOWNTOWN BOSTON — In the works since late 2017, Sam Adams’ downtown Boston taproom is finally ready to debut, opening to the public on January 30 at 60 State St. (the former Hillstone space), steps from Faneuil Hall (and, conveniently, a Samuel Adams statue).
It’s an appropriately historic site for Boston Beer Company to show off its flagship brand, which is named for one of the founding fathers of the United States. Likewise, Boston Beer Company — which dates back to 1984 — is one of the founding fathers of Boston’s now-enormous craft beer scene. (And Boston Beer Company is now enormous itself, even prior to its 2019 merger with Dogfish Head. The company also operates the Angry Orchard hard cider and Twisted Tea hard iced tea brands, among other brands.)
The new multi-story space features floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, plenty of bar seating and long communal tables inside, and outdoor seating on the upper level. Once it opens, it will operate daily, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Keep an eye on Instagram for updates about what’s on tap and other news.
Boston Beer Company also has a brewery and taproom in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood and a brewery and taproom in Cincinnati.
January 9, 2020
BEVERLY — Boston.com highlights the story of Wandering Soul Beer Co., a contract brewer (and hopefully eventually a brewery) founded out of Matt and Abby Smith’s grief over their stillborn daughter, Melody, in 2017. Matt Smith, an alum of Clown Shoes Beer, spent the rest of that year getting his permits in order and brewing a New England-style IPA named Melody Maker; now he has several other beers as well, and they’re available around the North Shore.
FRAMINGHAM — Jack’s Abby brand Springdale is turning three this month and throwing a party at the Barrel Room to celebrate. On the evening of January 17, Sycamore chef David Punch will be onsite cooking up some food (with suggested beer pairings, of course); $10 includes a bite of each dish, with 100% of proceeds supporting Bike MS.
MASSACHUSETTS — Mass Brew Bros. provides a rundown on the dozen Massachusetts breweries that closed in 2019, from familiar Boston-area names like Mystic Brewery and Backlash to smaller outfits elsewhere in the state. “If there’s a theme to be identified from the 2019 closures it might be complications related to the spaces in which many of them operated, or for some an inability to make the finances work to their satisfaction — perhaps even both,” writes Rob Vandenabeele.
WALPOLE — Tomorrow, January 10, is opening day for a new winery, tasting room, and event space on Rt. 1 in Walpole, a mile down the road from Gillette Stadium, Debevino Winery, owned by three branches of a family with winemaking roots stretching back to southern Italy in the early 1900s.
Debevino wines are fermented and produced onsite in Walpole, made with grapes sourced from Napa, and customers can sample a flight of four wines and take a tour of the facility for $12. Debevino is producing a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and more, all available for the tasting or by the glass, bottle, or case. Fans of the winery can join a membership program that includes discounts and events — such as autumn grape-crushing. (Given the winery’s proximity to Gillette, of course there will be football-themed tailgate parties as well as a variety of other events.)
For now, Debevino is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
January 2, 2020
DORCHESTER, BOSTON — Dorchester Brewing Company’s expanded space is now officially open, having debuted on New Year’s Eve. The expansion increases Dorchester Brewing’s size from 2,000 square feet to 8,000 and includes a restaurant — a permanent location of M & M BBQ, previously known as M & M Ribs, a mobile and catering operation with roots dating back to 1982. There’s also a large rooftop patio and enclosed greenhouse (aka the Hopservatory), complete with fireplace and an additional bar, and the existing first-floor space is bigger as well, now featuring pinball machines, Skee-Ball, and table shuffleboard.
The new and improved Dorchester Brewing also has space for local artwork, live music and other events, and a couple additions to the lengthy beer selection — a wine collaboration with La Cantina Winery from Franklin and a cider collaboration with Somerville’s Bantam Cider.
While M & M BBQ served some food at the New Year’s Eve opening celebration, the restaurant will officially open later this month with its full menu of barbecue, mac and cheese, sausages, pretzels, fries, and more.
MASSACHUSETTS — Here’s a rundown on the state’s massive 2019 beer explosion: 28 new breweries, nine new taprooms, and three expansions.
ROXBURY, BOSTON — Backlash Beer Company announced today on Instagram that it has “quietly closed its taproom for good,” but the brewery will continue on. “We started as a small contract brand in 2011, and that’s what we’ll continue to do moving forward,” the post continues. “You’ll still be able to find our beer on the shelves of your local beer shop and on draft in Massachusetts, Maine, and beyond. We’ll continue to share info about new beers, events, and where to find us, but we won’t be sharing further details about our taproom closing here. Please know that your support with every single visit, conversation, and pint shared has meant so much to us.”
While Backlash debuted its Roxbury taproom in late 2018 after about two years of construction, founders Helder Pimentel and Maggie Foley contract brewed at a number of facilities starting back in 2011. The Backlash lineup includes beers like the Belgian-inspired Groundswell ale, a number of New England-style IPAs, and the “big yet easy-drinking hop bomb” Hostile Takeover.
SOMERVILLE — Aeronaut Brewing Company cofounder Ben Holmes — who is no longer involved in the brewery’s operations but still holds an ownership stake — is working on a new beer project called FAB Beer, a collaborative brand aimed at activism as well as the arts. FAB stands for “fermentation arts brasserie.”
FAB Beers are designed by Holmes, brewed at Dorchester Brewing Company, and distributed by Craft Collective, but Holmes hopes to open a brewery and taproom at some point in the next couple of years, possibly in Somerville.
FAB’s first series is called the “Baby Dictators Project,” inspired by a late 2019 incident in which a Trump supporter damaged a “baby Trump” protest balloon in Alabama. The series’ can art depicts oppressive leaders as infants and feature backstories aimed at imagining that each leader had a “better childhood” and what that might mean for their adulthood. The first cans feature art by Holmes’ artistic collaborators Adam O’Day and Andy Jacob, with whom Holmes was working on Aeronaut labels when the trio heard the news about the Trump balloon. The plan is to invest profits from can sales to buy more protest balloons and send them to numerous protests in 2020.
Different artists will collaborate on future cans, and artist and activist Zsuzsanna Szegedi is leading the effort as FAB’s artistic director.