The New England Brewery Tour Series: Massachusetts Breweries (Pt. 1 Boston)
New England is replete with brewing states. Many of them boast 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.
Part one of the Massachusetts tour will feature specifically breweries that can be easily reached from Boston. If you are a visitor flying into the area, any of the breweries can be reached without driving(although it may be significantly more comfortable in some cases).
Best Breweries of the Boston Area
Jack’s Abby / Springdale
Located in Framingham, Massachusetts, just West of Boston, Jack’s Abby got its start with its Red Tape Amber Lager poking fun at the legal hoops required to jump through to get started as a craft brewery. The success of their lager specialization has lead to the expansion to an experimental brewery they call Springdale.
Jack’s Abby is one of the few microbreweries in the state that has a kitchen for full food service as well, even featuring fresh wood-fired pizzas. This more rounded dining experience gives Jack’s Abby a different appeal over many of its craft brewery counterparts that are sprinkled across the state. Having a chance to pair your freshly poured draught with made to order food provides a complete dining experience where there was once just beer(not the worst deal either way).
The devotion to brewing lagers makes Jack’s Abby a brewery worthy of a visit, if only for a change from the oversaturation of breweries shelling out Indian Pale Ales. If you’re looking to make the best quality of a beer tour in the state of Massachusetts, you would be sadly mistaken to leave Jack’s Abby off of your list.
Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company
Exhibit ‘A’ Brewery puts a premium on its dedication to freshness but understands how a beverage is meant to be enjoyed. The company prints a “canned on” date for every one of its cans to increase transparency and implores every beer is kept in cold storage during one hundred percent of the distribution process. This ensures that, when it is time to crack open your Exhibit ‘A’ beverage, it is as fresh as possible.
Their Demo Tape Series provides a grounded story behind the development of many of their beers. According to their blog, their IPA was a product of “two Demo Tape versions (Demo Tape Two and Four) before becoming The Cat’s Meow,” which they’ve named as one of the more popular drinks they deliver. Exhibit ‘A’ also makes its customers an essential part of the development of its products through the Demo Tape Series. Receiving feedback on each of the creations to craft the ideal delivery is just a part of the process for them. With a tip of the cap to the founders’ musical background, The Demo Tape series has been the product of many big hits for this Framingham brewery.
Like Jack’s Abby and Springdale, Exhibit ‘A’ is located in Framingham, making it an ideal place for the city dwellers to take a quick trip to enjoy their beers, entertainment nights, and popup food trucks. The location also works as a convenient breakpoint for those coming into the city on the Mass Pike. Whether going home or making your way in, Exhibit ‘A’ makes an easy and worthwhile addition to the agenda of your Boston trip. But with all these beer options, make sure you have a designated driver and drink responsibly.
Trillium Brewing Company
JC and Esther Tetreault wanted to create a way of life when they were a young couple getting married. The decision to cofound the Trillium Brewing Company was about the lifestyle it would allow them to create. Since its opening in 2013, they have built quite a lifestyle for themselves and the visitors to their multiple locations.
The company’s locations include a restaurant and brewery not far from their original site in Fort Point, another brewery in Canton, a year-round indoor/outdoor taproom near Fenway Park, seasonal beer gardens, and a New England farmhouse. Trillium is creating ideal environments for all kinds to enjoy one of their unique creations.
In an expensive city, life can often feel like it turns into a competition of status. In a place like Boston, where giants rule every market, and a wrestling match with status looms over every interaction, Trillium is making its mark by creating sites that restore humanity to the experience of having a beer with a friend.
One of the most well-known names in the craft brewery world, Samuel Adams of the Boston Beer Company, has the recognition and distribution that would understandably make a reader pause and wonder if this qualifies as a craft brewery. Being the oldest craft brewery in the state, it has earned its reputation over time by delivering exciting, new creations and delivering consistently on its trademark brews like the legendary ‘Boston Lager.’
Some of Samuel Adams’ most intriguing beers can be found in their seasonal variety packs. I was personally devastated that I didn’t have a chance to continue the annual tradition of drinking an ‘Old Fezziwig Ale’ this Christmas. But no worries, I have not given up hope that I will again be able to appreciate the rich, sweet flavor of one of my favorite beers and namesake of one of my favorite Christmas characters.
Samuel Adams is special to me because of its reach and the feeling of home that it represents from me. I spent three years out of the United States, and never felt particularly homesick because of the tremendous welcoming I had everywhere I went and the friends I made along the way. But I distinctly remember one night going to a convenience store with some friends in Taiwan and seeing they had Samuel Adams Boston Lager stocked in the cooler. This was a rare moment. I’d seen other American beers stocked in these stores, but never Sam Adams, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I bought a bottle for everyone to share a piece of my home with the best friends I had away from it.
Harpoon Brewing Company
This Massachusetts brewery is a behemoth producing the most barrels of beer in the state by a comfortable margin (Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams may produce more overall, but much of this happens away from its Massachusetts headquarters). Overall, Harpoon accounts for approximately 20% of the barrels of beer made in this great New England brewing state.
With a second brewery location in Windsor, Vermont, Harpoon has planted its flag as a whale in the New England market of craft breweries. Despite its size, Harpoon continues to prove that it can be nimble on its feet with new creations and collaborations. Recently, a partnership with Whistle Pig – distiller of what has been called the best rye whiskey on the planet – brought a new form to the brewery’s popular Baltic Porter. With the beverage being aged in select WhistlePig barrels, the final product has found a unique rye-spice that fans of Harpoon will be sure to enjoy.
Harpoon Brewery, actually an employee-owned company, is only a few years younger than the oldest brewery in the state(Samuel Adams). It carries the responsibility of being one of the most well-known breweries with dignity and pride, releasing high-quality products regularly and continuing to find new ways to innovate. Tours of the brewery with samples for guests aged 21 and over are scheduled throughout the week. These tours start at noon on weekdays and 11:30 AM on weekends. The brewery comes complete with a beer room that serves up both Harpoon and non-Harpoon beers, simple bites to enjoy alongside your beverage, and a station to fill your beers to-go. Whatever your favorite Harpoon brew turns out to be, you can bring plenty home for later in a 64-ounce growler or the more manageable 32-ounce size.
The Road is Paved With Beer
Anybody visiting from far off often thinks that Boston is everything that Massachusetts has to offer. With no plans of leaving the city, these brewing destinations will be some of your best options for enjoying the eclectic concoctions this market has rolled out. If this isn’t enough, you can be sure to find plenty more with a little extra effort, as Boston has enough breweries to flood the city.
With a little extra effort in traveling time, there is much more to discover. Top-notch brewery experiences lay further west, including breweries that have gained clout for creating some of the most desired beers in the country. For the true brew fanatic, the road is well worth traveling and will never be traveled too long before another brewing destination arises.
For the next edition of the Massachusetts tour we’ll be moving through Central Mass and up into Franklin County.