Clover Debuts Brewer’s Choice Beer Program in Downtown Crossing
When Ayr Muir was opening the first Clover restaurant, two of his regular food truck customers, Dann and Martha Paquette, asked him whether the brick-and-mortar would serve beer.
“I said something like, ‘We’re focused on local food. I’m not sure that beer fits in,'” the Clover Food Lab founder and CEO says.
The Paquettes, then the brewers of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, quickly showed Muir how beer definitely could align with his company’s mission. They introduced Muir to Andrea Stanley of Valley Malt, and in 2012, the Inman Square CloverHUB put a Notch beer on draft made with Valley Malt’s Massachusetts-grown grain.
“I first visited Andrea when she was still setting up her facility,” Muir says. “I saw the potential to help jumpstart what she was trying to do. One of the challenges she mentioned was getting the brewers to buy the wheat, because she’s not sure the market would be there.”
So, Clover’s beer program began with a focus on helping the New England beer economy, and tonight, the company is debuting a beer program at its new downtown Boston location that celebrates the relationships between the breweries and Muir’s team.
The Brewer’s Choice menu features six draft lines for Notch, Peak Organic, Allagash, Aeronaut, Mystic, and Jack’s Abby, curated by the breweries themselves, instead of having a beer buyer at Clover select a keg from the brewery’s portfolio. Clover selected the six featured breweries based on their philosophies and products, and the lineup will stay the same for the longterm, Muir says.
“We work very closely to brewers we know very well. We’ve visited them and seen their production. We have a high level of trust in what they do,” he says. “This gives us the chance to hand over the controls to them.”
What beers they offer will vary, depending on what each brewery wants to send to Clover locations that serve beer. See the initial draft list below.
To start, one of the brews is Allagash’s Sixteen Counties.
“It’s very apparent if you’ve ever visited a Clover that there’s a lot of care in every decision they make,” says Allagash’s Massachusetts and Rhode Island market manager, Billy Morrissey. “[Sixteen Counties] fits their world really well, and it’s something we’re very excited about at the brewery.”
Named for a children’s song that lists all of Maine’s counties to the tune of “Yankee Doodle,” Sixteen Counties is a copper ale brewed with malted barley, unmalted red wheat, and organic oats, all grown in Maine. Blue Ox and Maine Malt House provide the base malt, the oats come from Aurora Mills Organic, and the unmalted wheat is sourced from the Maine Grains Alliance.
The local ingredients “impart a lot of different characters than you’ll get in traditional Belgian-style beers,” Morrissey says, and the beer itself is built to highlight those flavors.
Chris Lohring of Notch is using his Clover tap handle as something of a testing ground.
“These are beers we’ve vetted out and done test batches of on our own, but you don’t prove anything until you try to sell it,” he says. “But it’s also about putting beers at Clover that we’re really proud of, that don’t have wide distribution.”
He’ll start with Between the Waves Pale Ale, a brand new “American bitter” style. Around 4 percent ABV, it’s low in alcohol like a traditional English butter, but American hops impart fruity, citrusy aromas and flavors.
Currently, Lohring plans for it to be a one-off brew. “That’s my promise to Clover, that we’ll always do something different.”
The six pony kegs of Brewer’s Choice beers are available starting tonight at Clover in Downtown Crossing, visible through an LED-lit, glass cooler. The custom-built unit will eventually be installed in all the Clover locations that serve beer. Tonight, join representatives from each of the breweries for a kickoff party with snacks and tunes.
CLOVER BREWER’S CHOICE BEER MENU 2016
- Allagash Brewing: 16 Counties // Chosen by Rob Tod, brewer
- Peak Organic: Fresh Cut Pilsner // Chosen by Jon Cadoux, brewer
- Aeronaut: Hop Hop and Away Pale Ale // Chosen by Ben Holmes, CEO
- Jack’s Abby: Cranberry Berliner // Chosen by Jack Hendler, brewer
- Mystic: Table Beer // Chosen by Bryan Greenhagen, brewer
- Notch: Between the Waves Pale Ale // Chosen by Chris Lohring, brewer
Launch Party: Beer Hits DTX, $10-$12, Thursday, June 9, 5-7 p.m., CloverDTX, 27 School St., Boston, Eventbrite.