Beer in Boston
Last Updated :26/09/04
Visit to Boston (16-20th September 2004)
- by Mark Enderby.
oston doesn't seem to have any great multi-tap boozers. There is a plethora of Irish style bars and a smattering of brewpubs. The former do have some choice and beers from Harpoon (the local micro) being widespread and other bars serving Cambridge Brewing beers. Various micros (esp Magic Hat) seemed to be quite popular but the samples I tried had been frozen to death !
Because of this, I concentrated on the brewpubs of which there are still only 5 in the central areas of Boston, Cambridge and Harvard. Since my last visit, 3 had closed (Commonwealth, Brew Moon CA and Brew Moon Boston) and 3 had opened. All 5 brewpubs had handpulls and 4 of them had 1 or 2 cask beers available. Prices are quite high at around $4.50+5% tax for 16 fl oz.
Beer Works (110 Canal St and 61 Brookline Ave, Boston)
Both breweries did approx 14 beers ( a full list of possibles is at http://www.beerworks.net/html/menu_drink.html ). Of these one or two appear on handpull. Both outlets are designed with the functional, industrial look. At the former was Back Bay IPA (6.5) and the latter had Fenway PA (5) and Pumpkinhead Ale (5). (Pumpkin beers are very popular in autumn ! I also tried the SPA, Triple Gold, Bay State ESB (6), Boston Common (5) and Haymarket Heffeweisse (4.5). The only disappointment were the cask beers at the latter establishment since the first ones out the pump were heavily infected (presumably due to the humid weather). Once we'd got them to pull it through the beers were on form (though the concept seemed novel to the bar staff !). There is a third brewpub in the chain at Salem (approx 30 mins by train). This had the same range with different names and IPA on cask. Presumably all breweries use the same recipes. No ABVs are declared but are available on the website.
John Harvard (33 Dunster St, Harvard Sq)
Part of a chain spread down the East Coast, this is a pleasant cellar bar with a low TV quotient ! Half a dozen or so beers with an excellent Milk Stout (4.7) on cask. The Pacific Coast IPA was also tried.
Cambridge Brewing (One Kendall Square, Cambridge)
This is part of a modern office block with a variety of bars and restaurants in the basement. There are 4 regular beers plus a couple of Scottish influenced specials - a heather ale and a myrtle ale (based on a AD1200 recipe). I played safe and went for the Tall Tale IPA (5.9)! The single handpull wasn't in use.
Rock Bottom (115 Stuart Street)
The most central brewpub - part of a US-wide chain. Approx 8 beers - 2 of which appeared on cask as well. These were the Improper Hopper IPA (5.9) and Shea's Extra Stout (4.2) - both in fine form. Unfortunately, some of the staff hadn't been trained and didn't understand the word "cask" so it was a bit of a lottery on which version arrived.
The only pub we tried was Bukowski's Tavern at 50 Dalton Street. Not that many taps but a wide variety of bottled beers. Tried Rockies Mojo IPA from Boulder CO on draft as well as Cambridge Pale. There is a handpull here but it isn't used in summer.
The Beantown Pub at 100 Tremont - close to the centre had the ubiquitous Harpoon IPA but I tried Magic Hat Fat Angel - however this had been frozen to death.
RedbonesBBQ (55 Chester St, Somerville) is supposed to have a wide array of beers and cask - however, by the time we arrived on a Saturday night, it was too crowded to contend with so we moved on to Johnny D's for Harpoon IPA and some blues music.
The Harpoon Brewery (in south Boston) does visits at 1500 (Tue-Sat) and 1300 (Fri, Sat). Unfortunately, our hectic schedule meant we never made it.
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