Brewed Awakening: Five Must-Visit Taprooms in the Greater Boston Area
Finding a pint of locally brewed beer at your neighborhood bar—beyond those from trailblazers Sam Adams and Harpoon—was once a difficult task. Until 2011, that is, when tiny breweries like Idle Hands, in Everett, started brewing Belgian styles and Chelsea-based Mystic’s elegant bottles of saison began appearing on shelves. Fast forward to now, when it’s never been easier to try before you buy, as we find ourselves in the throes of a bona fide craft-suds moment. Here are five standout breweries worth visiting. —Heather Vandenengel
Jack’s Abby Brewing
Opened by three brothers, this Framingham brewery has been reinventing the lager since 2011, scoring approval to serve full-size pours last fall.
On Tap: A variety of quirky flavor profiles, from extra hoppy to rich and roasty.
The Must-Try: Hoponius Union, an “India Pale Lager” with a West Coast IPA’s boldness and a lager’s drinkability.
Insider Tip: To grab and go on Saturdays, hit the express line for growler fills and bottles.
Open Wednesday to Saturday, noon–8 p.m.
Night Shift Brewing
Everett’s Night Shift has earned a loyal following for its outside-the-box style, and now the brewery is about to open a bigger facility near its current location to meet demand.
On Tap: Innovative styles with a focus on sour and barrel-aged beers.
The Must-Try: Its line of Berliner Weisse beers, like the tart Cape Codder Weisse, aged on Cape Cod cranberries and infused with orange zest.
Insider Tip: On Thursdays the brewery taps a new cask—unfiltered, unpasteurized, naturally carbonated beer—for on-site consumption.
Open Monday to Friday, 3 p.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday, noon–6 p.m.
It’s all about the fermentation at Mystic, which offers a variety of yeast-forward beers. The Chelsea-based brewery even isolated yeast from New England fruit to ferment beer in its “Native Series.”
On Tap: Refreshing saisons on tap and heftier barrel-aged beers from the bottle.
The Must-Try: Mystic Saison, a complex, yeasty, and crisp sipper that’s even better during warmer months.
Insider Tip: There’s usually at least one brewery-exclusive beer on tap, often an experimental gruit, an herbal ale.
Open Wednesday to Friday, 3 p.m.–7 p.m.; Saturday, noon–5 p.m.
Idle Hands Craft Ales/Enlightenment Ales
In August, Boston’s original nanobrewery sized up, installing a bigger brewhouse in Everett and partnering with Enlightenment Ales to produce its brand of bubbly bière de champagne and saison styles.
On Tap: Belgian- and German-style beers and earthy farmhouse ales.
The Must-Try: Triplication, a 9% ABV Belgian-style Tripel, is one of the best in New England: clean and slightly sweet, with notes of banana.
Insider Tip: Brewer-led tours ($5 per person, by reservation only) include four samples and a tasting glass, and are held Saturdays at noon and 1 p.m.
Open Wednesday to Friday, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.; Saturday, noon–5 p.m.
Trillium Brewing Company
The Fort Point brewery is modern yet cozy, thanks to the wood-heavy tap room and rustic ales that often feature local malt from Valley Malt, in Hadley.
On Tap: Locally inspired farmhouse ales and bright, hoppy pale ales and IPAs.
The Must-Try: Fort Point Pale Ale, a fresh, fragrant, and juicy American Pale Ale.
Insider Tip: For a post-tasting-room treat, stop by oyster bar Row 34 down the street—there’s a good chance they’ll have a Trillium beer on draft or cask.
Open Tuesday to Thursday, 4 p.m.–7:30 p.m.; Friday, noon–7:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon–6 p.m.