Turtle Swamp Brewing Is Coming Soon to Jamaica Plain
There’s a very good reason Nicholas Walther and John Lincecum put the word “swamp” in the name of their Jamaica Plain brewery. Turtle Swamp Brewing, on track to start selling beer to-go later this month, is named for the low-lying wetlands between Jackson Square and Forest Hills, near where the two co-founders live.
As a natural water purifier—the wetlands help keep Stony Brook clear, Walther says—Turtle Swamp is why, in the early and mid-20th century, Jamaica Plain had nearly 30 breweries. “The water was ideal for brewing,” Walther says. His wife, Molly, is born and raised in JP, and shared the history of the area in an effort to convince the brewery partners to get rid of their working name, the Drunken Collaborators. “My wife said [that] was dumbest name, and she was right.”
When Turtle Swamp opens later this spring near the Green Street MBTA station, it will become Jamaica Plain’s second brewery, joining Samuel Adams makers Boston Beer Company, Eater Boston first reported. The plan has been in the works for more than two years.
Walther, an eight-year professional brewer, and Lincecum met at a neighbor’s birthday party. When Walther mentioned he was a brewer at Harpoon, Lincecum, a homebrewer and PhD biochemist involved in ALS research, stopped short. The annual Ales for ALS fundraiser was coming up, when breweries around the country create an experimental release to donate to ALS research. Walther was familiar: He was the brewer assigned to make the Harpoon Ales for ALS that year.
“That was my program,” Lincecum says.
For 10 years, he worked for a non-profit institute developing therapies for ALS. “I’m very proud; my therapy is ultimately moving toward clinic. But you can only do one thing for so long as a scientist, and I decided it might be fun to do something else.”
His brother, Matt Lincecum, owns Fremont Brewing out in Seattle, and had long told John that Jamaica Plain needed another brewery, Lincecum says. So, the two JP residents started hatching their plan.
“JP is a very tight neighborhood,” Walther says. “One thing we certainly want… is to make all kind of people come.”
That means a convivial, kid-friendly taproom, and accessible, quality beers for every taste. The first brews will commence on Turtle Swamp’s 15-barrel brewhouse as early as next week. The early lineup includes a golden ale, “a very Pale Ale,” an American-style bitter, a robust porter, an American IPA, and a hazy, New England-style IPA, Walther says. Initially, they plan to brew 1,000 barrels annually. The system capacity is currently 3,000 barrels, and it’s expandable up to 10,000, he says.
Turtle Swamp has a state-issued production license in hand, and just a few more pieces of equipment to install before brewing can begin. By late April, the duo hopes to have its pouring permit (their application is in) so they can start welcoming people into the space to sell single crowler cans and three-packs. The taproom space, with on-site consumption, could open in May. Turtle Swamp also plans to distribute to some local restaurants, Walther adds.
“We want to make [our brewery] a place mom and dad can come on Sunday, meet friends, and the kids will have games,” he says.
The Washington Street space is actually two buildings: An old auto garage in front houses the brewery, and a two-story taproom will have booth-style seating (made from salvaged church pews) and a ~15-foot bar downstairs, and lounge-style seating with communal tables upstairs.
“Once the weather gets nicer, it will open up into an outdoor seating area. We can roll up [garage] doors and let people hang,” Lincecum says.
Turtle Swamp will offer 2-ounce tasters, pints, and flights, and the company has started negotiations with local food trucks. They also plan to make root beer and/or other sodas, and would like to partner with local companies to offer other non-alcoholic options, like EvyTea.
“We don’t want it to be a bar, and it’s not a restaurant either. It’s a place people can come and relax, that is welcoming, you can bring your kids, and buy the beer in JP and take it home,” Walther says.
“Beer tourists going to Sam Adams will want to stop here. They’re enthusiastic about us being there,” he says. “If you’ve ever been to Portland, Maine; Oregon, Seattle, Denver, [etc.,] you can walk between breweries, and everyone benefits from that. People can experience different approaches to craft.”
Follow along on Instagram as Turtle Swamp gets ready to start pouring beer.
3377 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, Boston, turtleswampbrewing.com.