New England is replete with brewing states, many of them boasting some of the most sought after brews in the country. Since the rise in popularity of the craft brew, beer artisans have aimed to gain notoriety through their concoctions. Massachusetts has made its mark as a state that can consistently deliver a high-quality beverage.
Detailing each of these breweries one at a time would be to handicap our readers from finding the breweries they want to add to their tour list now. Multi-part state tour posts will give a birds-eye view of a brewing state. For a closer look at a specific brewery, dive into its brewery spotlight.
In good time, we may be able to make a comprehensive account of the cornucopia of breweries that are available in the Boston area alone. We at least had to make a second stop during this tour to bring recognition to some of the greats we missed in our first visit. For the sake of doing our best to shine a light on as many as we can, this part of the tour will give brief depictions of more breweries. Still, in a state with well over a hundred breweries and many of them in Boston, some will probably be left out. Be sure to mention your favorites if they haven’t been included here, and we’ll work to involve them in our Brewery Spotlight section.
If you missed the beginning of the Massachusetts tour, make sure to check out The New England Brewery Tour Series (Pt. 1 Boston) as well and let us know what you think of our list.
Coming Back to Boston; Brews That Wouldn’t be Left Out
Dorchester Brewing Company
Dorchester Brewing Company may not be as recognizable to some as Sam Adams or Harpoon. Still, it is responsible for a significant portion of the beer production in the state of Massachusetts. That is an impressive claim to own for a company that only opened in July of 2016.
Dorchester Brewing is unique from other breweries in that it is actually a collaborative brewing space. There are actually 11 different breweries that brew on the premises. This makes Dorchester Brewing an ideal symbol of the unique community the brewing industry is. It is appropriate to have such a collaborative space in what is a central location to the city of Boston. The contribution is such an essential piece of the brewing community because it allows small and mid-sized businesses to brew at scale without having to manage the prohibitive costs of purchasing space and equipment.
Aeronaut Brewing Company
As many of the best breweries do, Aeronaut started with passionate homebrewing that grew into a business. Founders Ben Holmes, Dan Rassi, and Ronn Friedlander opened Aeronaut in Somerville after overproduction in their home brewing prompted the need for a new way to get rid of their product.
Since their founding 2012, Aeronaut has continued to raise the standard of craft brewing, and through their brewery, they have become an irreplaceable part of the Sommerville community. If you live in Sommerville, and this is the first time you are hearing of Aeronaut, it is an honor for me to introduce it to you.
Located in historic Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lamplighter is bringing brewing prowess to the town known for its background in higher education. Opened in 2016, Lamplighter delivers a way for students to unwind from their long hours of strain with their noses in books.
While their brewery will continue to be a popular spot for students and community members alike, this brewery has made another contribution. Pepita, a cafe housed in front of the taproom, offers breakfast tacos and an espresso menu during the early hours of the day for those needing a different brand of a pick-me-up. In addition to their limited menu, Lamplighter regularly hosts food pop-ups on location and always allows guests to order food from other establishments to be enjoyed in house.
Night Shift Brewing
This is a brewery that took its craft a bit further than beer. In addition to its brewing expertise, Night Shift also creates its own hard seltzer and coffee blends because it’s all useful when you’re the one that has to work late. Founded in 2012 by three friends, Night Shift has grown in size to include multiple locations in Everett, Chelsea, and Lovejoy Wharf.
The location at Lovejoy Wharf serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner while their main taproom rests in Everett. Night Shift’s locations also include two seasonal beer gardens that can be found along the Charles River. For an assortment of beverage options and ideal locations to spend time with the family that will please all members, Night Shift has a place for you.
This is a brewery grabbing attention for what’s on tap and for the way it is run. The worker-owned bar appropriately opened its doors on the nation’s birthday, July Fourth, 2018. It is committed to serving beer of exceptional quality and doing so in a manner that proves beneficial for the community.
Having this bar in a city and state that was key to the beginning of the nation. The establishment pays homage to the foundation of the country through the titles of some of its brews. Beverages like the ‘Worker’s Pint,’ ‘Consummate Rioter,’ and the ‘1919 Strike Stout’ lend their name to an important piece of American history. Every beer on the menu comes with a story to help define what inspired each drink.
A brewery with terrific character, Lord Hobo brewery brings joy to the process the way a quality pint should. Located in Woburn, Massachusetts, Lord Hobo has become a brewery that encapsulates that New England experience as well as the Boston experience. Even with a salad – the Green Tom Brady – on its food list that tips its cap to the sports savor of New England, everything about this brewery unapologetically spills New England.
Among its trademark New England characteristics are its high-class brews that founder and CEO Daniel Lanigan has made a career out of delivering. Lanigan also has his fingerprints on the craft beer reputation out in Western Mass, where he contributed popular craft beer bars such as the Moan and Dove in Amherst. Bars like Moan and Dove are a testament to Lanigan’s awareness of what it takes to make an enjoyable and welcoming drinking experience. I am particularly grateful to him for that contribution he made to Amherst, as it was a spot I frequented in college and continue to enjoy today. With a list of beers that would take years to get through, you can always be sure to find something to expand what you thought about beer.
Lord Hobo, opened in 2015, is relatively young compared to some of the breweries that can be found in the Boston area, but it is growing fast. Already awarded the title of the fastest-growing microbrewery in the country, Lord Hobo has distribution deals with establishments in 16 states. In its short time, Lord Hobo has gained quite a reputation. If recent history is any indication, that legacy will continue to grow.
Operated by founder Christopher Tkach and his wife, Grace, Idle Hands is based in Malden, Massachusetts, and has been in operation since 2010. This brewery, which devotes itself to Belgian inspired beers, has a taproom that is open seven days a week and a loyal community of Bostoners that keep coming back for more.
With an awards list that continues to grow over the years, Idle Hands has a long list of highly-rated and respected beers throughout brewery enthusiast websites such as Beeradvocate. You cannot make a mistake by adding this to your list of places to go in Boston.
A Reputation Deserved and Growing
The accolades that Boston has garnered as a world-class brewing city is with good reason. With the reputation for top-shelf microbreweries spilling over to western Massachusetts for a decade, the state as a whole is gaining much more attention. Continued growth and innovation in Boston, along with the development of the burgeoning industry to the west, Massachusetts brewing has an exceedingly promising future.
With the growing popularity of craft brewing, it is not uncommon to see so many young breweries popping up in a single state. What might be rarer is the diversity of styles and the high level of quality coming out of breweries with such consistency. There are plenty of states with more craft breweries, some by dramatic margins, but Massachusetts can hold its own against anyone when it comes down to the level of beers being created. What might make Massachusetts such an attractive state to visit for beer tours – aside from its high standard – is the ability to reach many of the locations. To have so many breweries in such a compact space is a rarety. The best part is, we haven’t even finished with this tour yet.
In the fifth and final installment of this tour, we will be going further east to the vacation destination of Cape Cod. Look for more installments of the New England Brewery Tour in the future where we’ll take a look at other states in the Northeast region of the country.
Our fifth and final installment of this tour will bring us through breweries of the famed Cape Cod.