Exhibit A Brewing Debuts in Framingham This Summer

Veteran brewer Matthew Steinberg bought the former Jack's Abby facility, and he plans to make the Metrowest town a beer destination.

Exhibit A Brewing Co. founder Matthew Steinberg

Brewer and founder Matthew Steinberg inside the under-construction Exhibit A Brewing Co. / Photo provided

Matthew Steinberg has been brewing beer professionally for nearly two decades, and for most of that time, he’s been dreaming up what his own brewery will look like. This summer, it will finally come to fruition: Steinberg is opening Exhibit A Brewing Company in Jack’s Abby’s former brewery in Framingham.

Steinberg left his day job at Amherst’s High Horse brewpub in September, and the plans for Exhibit A have been in the works for a year. He was keeping them under wraps until the Tax and Trade Bureau granted its approval, and a Facebook page popped up earlier this week.

The facility at 81 Morton St. is 12,000 square feet, which is about one-sixth the size of Jack’s Abby’s new brewery, located less than a mile away. But it feels big to Steinberg, he says. He has no intention of creating a brand a big as Jack, Sam, and Eric Hendler have.

No way this brewery was supposed to brew as much as they were making. They put out world-class beer in a fast growth spurt, and obviously had to move,” Steinberg says.

His plan is to sell most of Exhibit A’s beers at the taproom and via on-site retail; he’s installing a canning line. Plus, he has a focused list of Massachusetts bars and restaurants where he’d like to be on draft.

“What would work for us as a model, and also a quality-of-life working establishment, is to have people come here. My least favorite thing to do is go to the package store and look at beers on the shelf that are out-of-date. All of the things in this equation told me I want to build a brewery that’s not forced to grow,” Steinberg says.

A small irony is that he left High Horse because he didn’t foresee it growing into anything more than a busy, college town brewpub.

“I was focused on High Horse big time for the past three years. I love that place. It just became very clear last year that building a brewery [offsite] was going to be a challenge. Being in the restaurant business makes it hard to save money,” he says. “I was considering my options, when I was called into a meeting [with the person who is now Exhibit A’s silent partner] … about purchasing Jack’s Abby’s old brewery. I didn’t know it was even available.”

But as soon as he heard that it was, everything made perfect sense. “Jack and his brothers built such a reputation and did so much business out of this space,” Steinberg says. “The more people that come to Framingham for beer, the better for [Jack’s Abby]. We’re looking at doing a little, mini version of what Night Shift, [the former location of] Idle Hands, and those guys up there have: five breweries within 10 miles of each other. Why not create something like that in the suburbs?”

Steinberg is fully renovating the sub-1,000-square foot taproom, which will have “clean, modern” blacks, grays, and metals. It likely won’t have any seating, but it will have high-top tables and drink rails throughout the space.

He’s also updating the 20-barrel brewhouse. Exhibit A will likely produce between 1,500-2,000 barrels in its first year, and Steinberg plans to make under 10,000 barrels of beer annually, he told MetroWest Daily News.

“We’re positioned to do great things with hop forward beers,” Steinberg says. He has a relationship with Segal Ranch hops farm in the Yakima Valley. “They grow the best hops on the planet,” he says. 

So far, he has developed recipes for a “well-hopped ale” with wheat and barley; a pale ale, IPA, double IPA, porter, “and a project of various coffee beers.” 

Part of the renovation includes expanding the back parking lot, so Exhibit A may look into hosting food trucks, but otherwise, it will not offer food.

“People are going to come here, have a couple beers on draft, buy some cans to go, then go to Jack’s Abby for dinner,” Steinberg says, laughing. “I almost feel like that will be a requirement to come here.”

Exhibit A Brewing Company, opening July/August 2016, 81 Morton St., Framingham, Facebook.