This Guy Hand Carved the Beer Taps for Boston’s Newest Brewery

Brian Smith is the link that connects drinkers to the latest beer made by Trillium in Fort Point Channel.

Photo courtesy of Brian Smith

Photo courtesy of Brian Smith

A new brewery opened its doors in Boston this week, and it’s already shipping its first batches of beer to watering holes in Jamaica Plain and Brookline.

After several years in the making, Trillium Brewing Company finally set up and opened its retail shop on Thursday, March 21, and welcomed beer enthusiasts to the site on Congress Street in the Fort Point Channel. Although patrons can’t sample the new brew at the company’s headquarters as of yet—they’re still working out logistics with the city’s Inspectional Services division—customers can fill up on a t0-go growler of Trillium’s signature pale farmhouse style ale.

Trillium is now one of just three production breweries in Boston, according to owners JC and Esther Tetreault, and is a family-owned business with lots of local ties. Wood craftsman Brian Smith says he designed and hand-carved the taps that will be used to pour mugs of the beer at the brewery and the bars where Trillium’s beer will be sold.

Boston magazine caught up with Smith to ask him about the brewery and his wood crafting skills.

Tell us about Trillium.

Everything is so local. The wood [is from] right there in that building for years, and probably would have just been disposed of, but now it’s getting reused. I live in Southie so everything’s being made right up the street, and I only have to travel a mile or so across the Seaport instead of going to big-box stores for stuff that comes from across the country. All in all, it’s pretty cool that from source-to-end product, everything is happening right here.

How did you get involved with Trillium?

I started out making wooden bottle openers for friends, and the guys who run American Provisions in Southie really liked them and wanted to sell them in their store. I believe they started selling them in early January, and I’ve since expanded to selling them at Sault New England in the South End and Social Wines at 50WB. JC [Tetreault] at Trillium saw a picture of them that Provisions posted and approached me about making the tap handles. Trillium used a lot of reclaimed wood for the build-out in the brewery, so they wanted to use these old beams they had from the demolition of 319 A Street to make the tap handles. Their bar is made from the same beams.

Is this the first time you’ve carved handles for taps?

These are the first tap handles I have made, although in the past I have made wooden lures for fishing the Cape Cod Canal, the aforementioned bottle openers, and a couple of boats. I have a 15-foot wooden dory about 90 percent complete in my basement now. I’ve also built beds, tables, and a number of other random items.

How long have you been carving?

I’ve been woodworking for as long as I can remember. Back in high school I took shop class all four years, and made a lot of the furniture in my parent’s house. I browse through catalogs of high-end stores like Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, etc, and then make the same items for a fraction of the cost. Full-time, I work as a mechanical engineer for a naval architecture firm, designing large commercial ferries, tugboats, etc.

What goes into designing something like this?

JC from Trillium has a graphic design friend Kevin Cimo who designed the tap handles. I made a few prototypes; we had a few meetings, and eventually narrowed it down to the current design, based on the size of the taps and ease of use.

Is it awesome knowing that your carved product is the key to people enjoying a frosty beer in Boston?

It’s pretty exciting. I’ve wanted to get into making stuff like this for a while, so getting this opportunity is awesome.