Bukowski Tavern Unveils R.I.P. Beer Series
Local craft breweries are honoring the prolific poet with rare, seasonal beers.
On March 9, on the 20th anniversary of Charles Bukowski’s death, Bukowski Tavern unveiled the first in their exclusive R.I.P. beer series, a collaboration with local [and perhaps a few national] craft breweries to commemorate the prolific poet, novelist, and screenwriter. “We wanted to celebrate Charles Bukowski in some way,” says bar manager Justin Lipata. “So we decided to bring in a dedicated house beer. But talking it over with the staff, we noticed that in the past [Bukowski's used to have a house beer produced by Wormtown], people got tired of having one set style. Customers like the idea of a rotating tap line. That idea snowballed into having multiple breweries participate over the course of year.”
Lipata and beverage director Chris Sheridan first approached the idea with Portico Brewing Co., focusing on a collaborative project that would only be available at Bukowski’s two location as well as its sister restaurants within the Wilcox Hospitality Group: The Lower Depths, The Tip Tap Room, Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, Estelle’s, and Parish Cafe (both locations). Besides honoring Bukowski’s memory, Lipata wanted to donate a portion of the proceeds to Boston literacy programs and scholarships. “They jumped on the notion and slowly word began spreading,” says Lipata.
Soon other breweries were contacting Lipata about making their own seasonal offerings for Bukowski’s R.I.P. series. Over the course of the year, expect limited-release beers from Harpoon, Blatant Brewery, Jack’s Abby, Clown Shoes, Cisco, Rising Tide, Berkshire Brewing Company, and Brooklyn Brewery.
The debut offering in the series is Pulp, Portico’s hibiscus red ale named after Bukowski’s last novel. “With each new beer, we’re changing styles according to the season and having the brew masters flexing their creative muscles and coming up with something unique and distinctive,” says Lipata. “With spring right around the corner, we had the idea of a floral, easy-drinking red ale to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day in Boston.”
Lipata and Sheridan are working one-on-one with each brewery to conceptualize the beers and all Wilcox Hospitality Group employees will be assisting in some capacity in the production of the final product, something Lipata intends on documenting for their website.
Bukowski’s Tavern will feature two new beers per season. Next up is a spruce tip lager from Blatant and a Maibock brewed on Harpoon’s experimental 10-barrel pilot system. Other ideas that have been discussed are a barrel-aged imperial stout from BBC and a smoked rye lager from Jack’s Abby named after Bukowski’s 1982 novel, Ham and Rye.
“We as a company are sitting down with these brew masters and giving our input on what we’d like to see from them. We’re just trying to get the public a little more excited about these rare beers you can’t find in a lot of places. It’s a great selling point to say, ‘this is our house beer, it’s a rotating line, and we also helped to make it.’”