Fiddlehead IPA Hits Draft Lines in Boston

The popular Vermont beer starts rolling out at Massachusetts bars this week.

Fiddlehead IPA tap handles

Fiddlehead IPA tap handles. / Photo provided

A certain harbinger of spring, perhaps? Fiddlehead is taking root in Massachusetts—no, not the edible ferns (yet, at least), but the Vermont brewing company known for a well-balanced, easy-drinking India pale ale.

Fiddlehead IPA, the draft-only flagship of the Shelburne, Vt. brewery, will soon be fairly ubiquitous around Boston, says Bryan Ferguson of Craft Collective. The boutique distributor has partnered with Fiddlehead in Massachusetts.

In fact, Fiddlehead founder Matt Cohen was one of the first brewers Ferguson and his partner, Adam Oliveri, contacted when they launched Craft Collective. Over the years, their company has brought south a few cans of Second Fiddle, Cohen’s entry in Vermont’s venerable landscape of coveted, double IPA tallboys.

“We made it work for a while, because we value the brand, the price point, and Matt, and we thought maybe, someday, they’ll have extra beer,” Ferguson says.

That day has come. At the beginning of the year, Fiddlehead expanded production into a brand new, 10,000-square foot building behind their original home, a tiny tasting room and 15-barrel brewhouse on the busy-but-rural Shelburne Road. The new 30-barrel system immediately doubles their brewing capacity, says sales manager Brad Nutt, and the space gives them room to grow. Fiddlehead plans to sell its original, 15 BBL system and eventually expand the taproom, he adds.

Cohen started Fiddlehead after a 13-year career at Magic Hat. His goal was to make a beer that’s just as accessible as Long Trail Ale, Switchback, and Magic Hat #9, in terms of distribution and cost, but to do it with an on-trend, hop-forward IPA. Fiddlehead IPA is on draft at more than 500 locations, mainly in northern Vermont. As it adds capacity, Fiddlehead is expanding into the southern part of the state, as well as into Massachusetts.

It’s immediately poised to become one of Craft Collective’s largest suppliers, Ferguson says, along with the likes of Singlecut, Aeronaut, and Banded Horn. Fiddlehead IPA will likely be Craft Collective’s most accessible beer, he adds.

It’s an extremely dank, but balanced, example of the style. Pine resin flavors give way to tropical fruits, like mango and pineapple, and the hazy gold color make it a striking pint. And that’s how you’ll see it.

“I don’t want to see it in 12-ounce pours. It’s priced so that it can be a proper pint pour,” Ferguson says.

While he expects there to be a bit of a crush on the stuff when it hits draft lines this week, Fiddlehead IPA will not be a “whale” (an unattainable beer), nor will it be fleeting.

“Places that end up with a Fiddlehead IPA line can have it as long as they care to have it. We really want it to be a fixture,” he says.

Craft Collective and the Fiddlehead team will pour the first, ceremonial pint at 5 p.m. at Eastern Standard on Tuesday, March 21, then they’ll head to the Tip Tap Room for another kickoff event at 6:30 p.m. On Wednesday, March 22, find them at Five Horses Tavern in Davis Square at 6 p.m.

Other early Fiddlehead IPA adopters include Alden & Harlow, the Brendan Behan, both locations of Bukowski Tavern, Row 34, Highland Kitchen, Stoked Pizza, the Smoke Shop, Stoddard’s, and more.