New breweries, pop-up wine gardens, distillery events, and more — this is the fall 2021 Boston-area booze news roundup, updated every week or so with the latest information on the local alcoholic beverage industry. Find the most recent set of updates at the top, organized geographically. Know of Boston-area booze news that should be on Eater’s radar? Reach out here.
October 26, 2021: Forget hard seltzer; drink pancake beer
BOSTON — Everybody’s making hard seltzer these days...but is anybody drinking it? Boston Beer Company (parent company to Sam Adams and other brands) hit a snag in its third-quarter earnings this week, a slump being attributed to declining hard seltzer sales, with chairman Jim Koch telling CNBC that Boston Beer would “crush millions of cases” of its Truly hard seltzer product rather than selling languishing cans at a discount.
In other beer industry news, “craft beer has a plastic problem,” reports WBUR, looking at several local breweries and businesses that are trying to find solutions.
And one last bit of Boston beer news: Harpoon has a new release that tastes like pancakes (because it’s made with pancakes). Brewery exclusive Tall Stack Short Stack, an 8.0% imperial stout, is available while supplies last at both Harpoon locations (Boston and Windsor, Vermont) on tap and canned. This year’s winner in the annual Harpoon Owner’s Cup brewing competition, the beer was created by senior brewer Mike “Hollywood” Kelly and senior lead packaging operator Jason Campbell, who, per an announcement from Harpoon, eat pancakes together every morning before their shifts. Tall Stack Short Stack is brewed with pancakes, maple syrup, cacao, vanilla beans, and cinnamon, and it really does taste like pancakes in beer form.
October 13, 2021: Medford Brewing Company has finally found a home
BOSTON — Just a couple more days to visit the Essex Park pop-up beer and wine garden at City Hall Plaza before Roslindale’s Distraction Brewing Company takes over; see more details in the October 6 update below.
MEDFORD — Medford Brewing Company has been trying to find a home — ideally in Medford — for several years now. Co-founders Nick Bolitho and Max Heinegg have been building the Medford Brewing Company name since 2015, when they first began looking for a place to contract brew (Heinegg started brewing in 2008); in 2019, a couple potential Medford locations were in play for the brewery to put down its own roots but didn’t work out. Along the way, the company has built up a lineup of ales and signed on with Atlantic Beverage Distributors for distribution around Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Now, the company’s dream to build a brewery and taproom in its namesake city is finally coming true: Bolitho and Heinegg purchased the building at 30-34 Harvard Ave. in West Medford, a former auto body shop, last month. If all goes well, Medford Brewing Company could open its doors around March 2022, starting with eight beers on tap. Bolitho and Heinegg reportedly want to have a kitchen onsite for small bites and plan to host (quiet) live music and other community events, like readings.
October 6, 2021: Beer gardens inside and out, a distillery expansion, and more
BOSTON — Lots of beer news in Boston proper this week, particularly in the beer garden realm. First, there’s the debut of the new Beer Garden at W on October 8. The downtown Boston hotel (100 Stuart St.) is opening an indoor beer garden at street level, a partnership with Dorchester Brewing Company that features a ten-tap draft system. There are also cocktails on the menu, featuring Dorchester Brewing Co.’s beers, ciders, and seltzers, and there’s an Oktoberfest-inspired food menu (bratwurst, pretzels with beer cheese, etc.) Staying at the hotel? You can order beer flights right to your room, or find some of the brewery’s beers in the mini fridge.
Also in downtown beer garden news, head to City Hall Plaza (1 City Hall Sq., on the Congress Street side) through October 15, between 4 and 8 p.m. every weekday, to check out Essex Park, a pop-up beer and wine garden — this one’s outdoors — that is a collaboration between Roxbury bar District 7 Tavern and Leather District venue Savvor Lounge. Watch for local food trucks and live entertainment on some nights.
After Essex Park ends, Roslindale’s Distraction Brewing Company takes over, popping up at City Hall Plaza from October 18 through October 29 on weekdays from 4 to 8 p.m. Distraction will be serving a variety of its beers, as well as its Maltini cocktail. (Distraction is also popping up in Chestnut Hill in October; see details below.)
And in other Roslindale beer news, Turtle Swamp Brewing’s Roslindale Substation location is now officially closed; September 25 was its final day. (The brewery cited “the impacts of COVID” in a Facebook post when announcing the closure.) Its original location in Jamaica Plain remains in operation.
One more bit of Boston beer news for the week: In case you missed it, Castle Island Brewing is now up and running in South Boston (10 Old Colony Ave.); the Norwood-based brewery opened its new location on September 23, not far from the peninsula (not island) for which it is named. The brewery and taproom features bar pizza from Bardo’s, which is related to Randolph function hall Lombardo’s.
And in Boston liquor news, Dorchester’s six-year-old Boston Harbor Distillery (12R Ericsson St.) is seeking funding via NuMarket — a crowdfunding platform in which supporters get back 120% of their money in the form of credits to use at the business — in order to purchase a new 500-gallon still. It’ll help increase the distillery’s production of whiskey, rum, gin, and more. Boston Harbor Distillery is attempting to raise $76,000 through the campaign.
CHESTNUT HILL — In addition to its downtown Boston pop-up beer garden (see above), Roslindale’s Distraction Brewing Company is popping up at Chestnut Hill Square (200 Boylston St.) on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m. through October 31, when weather permits. The brewery will be serving several of its beers, such as Hoppily Distracted and Raspberry Wundertart, and there will also be live music and games such as giant Jenga. Attendees can bring takeout dining from Chestnut Hill Square restaurants (Oath, Sweetgreen, and more), and dogs are welcome at the event.
EVERETT — On October 9, Short Path Distillery is going all in on apples with its third annual Apple Booze Bash, taking place from noon to 10 p.m. “Grab your flannels and friends,” the distillery says, and prepare for a spiked cider bar, apple Negronis, new spirit releases, games, and more. The party will take place inside and outside of the distillery; Kelvin Street will be closed to vehicles for extra space. Local purveyors of burgers, doughnuts, and charcuterie will be onsite for most of the afternoon. All ages welcome (but obviously only attendees who are 21+ can consume alcohol), and all attendees must bring proof of COVID vaccination — no exceptions. RSVP for free online.
QUINCY — 10-barrel brewery and taproom Break Rock Brewing is now under construction at Marina Bay (534 Victory Rd.); Quincy doesn’t currently have any breweries. The Break Rock Brewing team is aiming for its taproom to “be a place for everyone from the local sports fan to the experienced craft beer aficionado” with “a fun and inviting atmosphere, a sense of community, and great beer.”
SANDWICH — Ultra-popular Massachusetts brewery Tree House Brewing Company announced some big expansion plans late last year, including a new location in Sandwich that was supposed to open this summer. The opening process has been a bit contentious, with nearby residents challenging the plans due to potential issues with flood zone regulations, endangered species habitats, parking, and traffic. The residents and brewery have reportedly reached a settlement, though, allowing the opening to proceed, with everyone agreeing on certain offsite parking arrangements, beer consumption limits between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and curbside pickup hours. (The Sandwich location, while not fully open yet, is currently offering beer to-go; details here.)