Breweries in Boston: The Ultimate Guide
Here are the 21 breweries you can’t miss on a tour of the best breweries around Boston.
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Massachusetts is now home to 200 breweries, quadruple the number it had back in 2011. The remarkable figure comes from industry bloggers Mass. Brew Bros., using their own records, corroborated by Brewers Association and Mass Brewers Guild data. But drinkers don’t have to see the numbers to know there’s (mostly) never been a better time to love beer around here. Here are the 21 breweries you can’t miss, listed in alphabetical order. [Updated November 2019]
Aeronaut Brewing Company
Somerville’s first production brewery in 100 years has been building community since opening in 2014. It shares warehouse space with the innovative Tasting Counter and its a la carte wine bar, Somerville Chocolates, and fledgling food businesses like resident Venezuelan arepa vendor, Carolicious. There’s always something going on at the taproom, from jazz by New England Conservatory musicians, to book clubs hosted by the Somerville Public Library, to a Best of Boston indie trivia series. Oh yeah, and there’s beer! Aeronaut experiments with all styles, but standards like Hop Hop and Away session IPA and A Year with Dr. Nandu IPA are always on point. In 2016, Aeronaut launched Boston’s first seasonal beer garden in Lower Allston, and it also pops up in Arlington each summer.
Open every day, 14 Tyler St., Somerville, 617-987-4236, aeronautbrewing.com.
After making a name for itself as a contract-brewed brand, a seven-year-old Backlash Beer Co. put down roots in the Newmarket area of Roxbury in fall 2018. The light-filled, black-and-white taproom takes design inspiration from hotspots around the country, but also from its gritty Boston location: The bar is lined with wood reclaimed from the former piano factory it sits in, with beer hall tables whitewashed to match that cofounder and brewer Helder Pimentel and his father built from pallets leftover from brewing equipment delivery. Full of games and greenery, it’s a cool and comfortable place to spend an afternoon watching football on the projector, and sampling flights of hazy New England IPAs, kettle-soured ales, and unique brews like the Great Molasses Flood. Bonus: Backlash is neighbors with Bully Boy Distillers and its awesome cocktail bar.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 152 Hampden St., Roxbury, Boston, backlashbeer.com.
Bent Water Brewing Company
Scientist-turned-homebrewer-turned-entrepreneur Aaron Reames chose Lynn as the home of his startup in 2016 because of its superior water quality. The Commuter Rail-accessible city turned out to be a good bet: It’s growing fast with more residential development and new businesses like Nightshade Noodle Bar. And about that crisp, clean H20? Head brewer Adam Denny Golab uses it to craft signatures like Sluice Juice and Thunder Funk IPA, plus ever-changing seasonals such as G.O.A.T. Helles Lager, and Boris chocolate peanut butter porter. As Lynn’s only brewery (and a convenient halfway point between Night Shift in Everett and Notch in Salem), Bent Water is a destination thanks to a dog-friendly patio, and frequent programming like retro arcade game nights, live music, and taproom yoga.
Open Thursday-Sunday, 180 Commercial St., Unit 18, Lynn, 781-780-9948, bentwaterbrewing.com.
Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen
The Allston-Brighton area got its first brewery in fall 2019—but beer fans in Boston were already familiar with Brato. That’s because the fermentation-focused concept—which pairs innovative beers with house-made sausages, grilled cheese sandwiches, and non-alcoholic brewed beverages—hosted more than 400 pop-ups and collaborations prior to opening the brewpub. Brato is still getting started, but has so far offered a range of experiments like a sessionable table beer, made with Bone Up Brewing Co.; collaboration IPAs with the likes of Night Shift and Cambridge Brewing Co.; and a lager brewed in conjunction with Idle Hands. Cofounder and chef Jonathan Gilman serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and the comfortable, industrial pub fits an underserved niche in the student- and locals-centric neighborhood.
Open every day, 190 No. Beacon St., Brighton, 617-903-3766, bratobk.com.
Cambridge Brewing Company
With an awesome seasonal patio and inexpensive comfort food, this old-school, family-friendly brewpub is an oasis in glass-walled and tech-fueled Kendall Square. It also happens to be one of the most influential breweries in the U.S. Thanks to founder Phil “Brewdaddy” Bannatyne and longtime brewmaster Will Meyers, CBC has been innovating for 30 years and counting, producing some of the first American barrel-aged and sour beers, pioneering a locavore movement in craft brewing, and mentoring what seems like an entire generation of beer makers. Despite the history, on the day-to-day CBC is simply one of the most low-key, friendly, and reliable watering holes around.
Open every day, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-494-1994 cambridgebrewingcompany.com.
Castle Island Brewing Company
Named in honor of the South Boston neighborhood where founder Adam Romanow was living while writing his business plan, Castle Island actually put down roots in the suburban town of Norwood. There, it produces distribution-bound cans like Candlepin session ale, Keeper IPA, and American Lager, plus smaller-batch brews like Super Guapo key lime gose, and the gold medal-winning Czech-style pilsner, Bohemian Shine. The lively spots has a local snack menu to complement tons of rotating pop-up food vendors, and hosts fun events like comedy nights and ax throwing. Since 2018, Castle Island has also had a summertime beer garden at Charlestown’s Constitution Wharf.
Open every day, 31 Astor Ave., Norwood, 781-951-2029, castleislandbeer.com.
Democracy Brewing Company
A 2018 startup by economic justice organizer James Razsa and veteran local brewer Jason Taggart, this downtown brewpub serves up fresh beer, locally sourced pub fare, and economic sustainability for its employee-owners. Beyond the forward-thinking business model, the Downtown Crossing area was ripe for a large and comfortable place with a casual menu of simply prepared fare and inexpensive, crushable pints of classic styles, like Worker’s Pint American blonde ale, Fighting 54th saison, and 1919 Strike stout.
Open every day, 35 Temple Place, Downtown Crossing, Boston, 857-217-BREW, democracybrewing.com.
Dorchester Brewing Company
Boston’s largest neighborhood got its very own craft brewery in 2016—and also the city’s only state-of-the-art contract brewery, where world-renowned brands and locals alike can produce their own beers for the wider market. Dorchester Brewing Co. hasn’t rested on its laurels, though: In 2020, it will also boast Dorchester’s first rooftop beer garden, as well as a permanent home for longtime pop-up M&M BBQ. Meanwhile, the taproom hosts myriad events, and along with house brews like Embarrassment of Riches IPA, Clapp’s Cream Ale, and a sour called Stone Fruit Steve Austin, there’s beer on draft from the network of tenant-brewers like Hudson’s Medusa and Maine’s Lone Pine.
Open every day, 1250 Massachusetts Ave., Dorchester, Boston, dorchesterbrewing.com.
Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company
A 40-minute drive or Commuter Rail ride out to this Framingham brewery is well-worth the effort: Longtime Massachusetts brewer Matthew Steinberg’s original beers like the Cat’s Meow IPA, Goody Two Shoes Kolsch, and Briefcase Porter are world-class. A host of regular live music performances, food trucks, and other family-friendly programming, it will only continue to be a draw: After a couple scrappy years establishing itself in the original home of Jack’s Abby, Exhibit ‘A’ has purchased a building across the street to add a seasonal beer garden, with even more community-centered amenities to come in 2020.
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 81 Morton St., Framingham, 508-202-9297, exhibit-a-brewing.com.
Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall
One of New England’s original craft breweries is among the U.S. biggest craft producers. In 2013, Harpoon debuted a German-style beer hall deep in the Seaport District, and now it’s a must-visit for Boston beer fans. Find on draft not only fresh Harpoon IPA and UFO brews straight from the source, but also limited-release pilot brews, beers under the Clown Shoes brand, which the employee-owned Harpoon bought in 2017, and house-fermented City Roots hard cider. Honestly, though, the signature spent-grain pretzels—served with the likes of IPA cheese, ale mustard, and marinara for dipping, or dusted with cinnamon-sugar or parmesan cheese—are destination-worthy on their own.
Open every day, 306 Northern Ave., Seaport, Boston, 617-456-2322, harpoonbrewery.com.
Idle Hands Craft Ales
The European-inspired styles in Chris Tkach’s repertoire—like Blanche de Grace Belgian wit, Emelyn zwickl lager, and a barrel-aged Baltic porter—helped put his Everett-founded brewery on the map when it launched in 2010. Nearly a decade later, from their comfortable taproom in Malden Center, Idle Hands is now a source for everything from exquisite Belgian styles to baseball-themed New England IPAs. One of the Bay State’s first nano-breweries still bottles some of its special releases, and also keeps a robust canning schedule. The Orange Line-accessible taproom and seasonal patio offers a satisfying snack menu of warm Swissbakers pretzels, Mystic Station-made chips and dips, and local beef jerky, plus it hosts awesome pop-up events by the likes of Hot Chix Boston and Highroller Lobster Co.
Open every day, 89 Commercial St., Malden, 781-333-6070, idlehandscraftales.com.
Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers and Springdale Beer
Before Jack’s Abby got started in 2011, American craft beer had all but left lagers behind: That stuff was for Europeans and Super Bowl-advertising macro-brewers. When Framingham natives Jack, Eric, and Sam Hendler opened their hometown enterprise, they began to change the game by reinventing the crisp, bottom-fermented style with care—and the occasional dose of tropical hops. Not only did they pioneer the India pale lager style, they’ve also brought attention to less heralded German styles with award-winning bocks, kellerbiers, and schwarzbiers. In 2015, Jack’s Abby moved into a huge, full-service restaurant and beer hall, and in 2016, it opened Springdale Barrel Room next door. The offshoot project—whose taproom has its own, game-filled vibe—is devoted to anything non-lager, from barrel-blended sours, to lush and juicy IPAs, to Brigidiero breakfast stout.
Jack’s Abby open every day, 100 Clinton St., Framingham, 774-777-5085, jacksabby.com. Springdale Beer by Jack’s Abby open Wednesday-Sunday, 102 Clinton St., Framingham, 774-777-5430, springdalebeer.com.
Lamplighter Brewing Company
A hotspot since opening day in 2016, this café-by-day is typically hopping from morning through midnight. That’s mainly because of a solid selection of house brews by cofounder Tyler Fitzpatrick, such as Birds of a Feather IPA, London Calling chocolate porter, and an annual barleywine release. But it also has to do with the lively atmosphere across two, 100-person bars—a light-filled café up front, and the moodier party room in the back—plus great food options from the in-house Pepita Coffee by day, and near-nightly pop-ups by the likes of Manoa Poke Shop, Allium Market, and Deep Cuts Deli. (Fun fact: A quarter of Brato’s pre-opening events took place at Lamplighter.) It’s community building at its beeriest.
Open every day, 284 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-945-0450, lamplighterbrewing.com.
Lord Hobo Brewing Company
After establishing some of the Bay State’s more celebrated beer bars (he still owns Lord Hobo in Cambridge), Daniel Lanigan got into the brewing game with the stated mission of creating New England’s go-to IPA. The house that Boom Sauce built is now a production brewery with a 16-state distribution network, on track to make 50,000 barrels of beer in 2019; and a full-service restaurant with house-made pizzas, plus wine and cider options. In 2020, Lanigan will add a spacious outdoor patio in Woburn—and he also promises “the Taj Mahal of breweries in the Seaport.” Lord Hobo is building out a second gastropub and taproom at Two Drydock, not far from Harpoon’s beer hall.
Open every day, 5 Draper St., Woburn, 781-281-0809, lordhobobrewing.com.
Night Shift Brewing
The owl is one of Boston’s most recognizable beer brands for good reason: It’s been constant growth since 2012 for this one-time homebrew operation. But despite two bars in Everett, two seasonal riverside beer gardens, an impressive waterfront brewpub in Boston, and a Philadelphia expansion on the horizon, crowds still pack the places nightly. That’s because of the crew’s diverse range of beers, from the crushable, sessionable Whirlpool pale ale, to funky fruited sours, to dank and juicy hop bombs like the 87. Night Shift was among the first craft breweries to get in on the light lager market with its full-flavored Nite Lite, and in 2019, the company debuted a hard seltzer brand called Hoot, and also house-roasted coffee. We’ll stop lining up when they stop innovating—so, seems like never.
Open every day, 87 Santilli Hwy, Everett, 617-294-4233; 1 Lovejoy Wharf, Suite 101, Boston, 617-456-7687, nightshiftfamily.com.
Luckily, Chris Lohring didn’t listen to the few naysayers who questioned whether a European-inspired “American session brewery”—one that produces only beers with 4.5-percent alcohol or less—had a place in 2010’s burgeoning craft market. Lohring—also the founding brewmaster of Boston’s long-gone Tremont Brewery—has more than proved the idea’s success. At Boston bottle shops and bars, cans and draft lines of his Session Pils, Left Of the Dial, and Raw Power IPA are a regular sight. The taproom and beer garden experience Notch has created on the Salem River is unparalleled, and certainly worth an easy Commuter Rail ride or Boston Harbor Cruise to visit. But in 2020, Bostonians will get their own portal to Bavaria, when Notch opens a second location in Brighton at the revitalized Charles River Speedway.
Open every day, 283R Derby St., Salem, 978-238-9060, notchbrewing.com.
Samuel Adams Boston Brewery
Faneuil Hall-fixture Boston Lager is the reason this list exists today. Now the second-largest craft brewery in the U.S., Boston Beer Co. was a true novelty in 1988, when Jim Koch himself was going bar to bar to convince publicans to serve anything other than watered-down, fizzy yellow lager. Over the decades, the Sam Adams brand has pioneered American brewing techniques, like barrel-aging—fueled by Koch’s shrewd business moves, like diversifying the portfolio (see: Twisted Tea; acquiring craft behemoth Dogfish Head in 2019) and marketing (Sam is the official beer of the Boston Red Sox, and Boston Calling’s lead craft sponsor). Under Cambridge Brewing alum and brewmaster Megan Parisi, the Jamaica Plain brewery is where experimental brews like the lager-ale hybrid Sam ’76 are born. With a real taproom and outdoor beer garden finally opening there in 2017 and a permanent Faneuil Hall presence coming soon, the Boston brewery is a worthy pilgrimage all beer lovers should make.
Open every day, 30 Germania St., Jamaica Plain, 617-368-5080, samueladams.com.
Somerville Brewing Company-Slumbrew
Landmark beers like Slumbrew Porter Square Porter and Flagraiser IPA dot the landscape of the early Boston craft beer scene. Then contract-produced in Ipswich by husband-and-wife cofounders Jeff Leiter and Caitlin Jewell, the brand built a home at Assembly Row in 2014 and has since leaned into its Somerville Brewing identity. These days, two American Fresh brewpubs in town serve the neighborhood with light pub fare, comedy nights, trivia, and meet-ups of the Happy Soles running club, The beer lists feature the original Slumbrew flagships, alongside a range of porters, sours, hazy IPAs, and experiments like the Captain Crunch cereal-malted Saturday Morning tripel.
Open every day, 15 Ward St., 800-428-1150 x6; 490 Foley St., Somerville, 800-428-1150 x1, slumbrew.com.
Trillium Brewing Company
It’s only been a few years that hustling husband-and-wife duo JC and Esther Tetreault have opened a Fort Point brewpub, a Fenway taproom, and a draft-filled Canton headquarters; kicked Boston’s beer-garden scene into high gear, and put down literal roots in North Stonington, Conn., a coastal farm town near where they wed before launching business in Fort Point in 2013. Through it all, Team Trillium continues to create genre-defining New England IPAs and boundary-pushing pastry stouts, and newer European-style lagers and wild ales, with plans to eventually incorporate ingredients grown on their Connecticut farm. Boston’s most-hyped haze makers are well-known throughout the beer world—and that means Trillium also makes cool collaborations worth lining up for, with the the likes of Omnipollo, Bissell Brothers, the Veil—and even America’s Test Kitchen.
Open every day, 110 Shawmut Rd., Canton, 781-562-0073; 50 Thomson Place, Fort Point, 857-449-0078; 401 Park Dr., the Fenway/Kenmore, Boston, trilliumbrewing.com.
Turtle Swamp Brewing
Named for the naturally purifying wetlands in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury that earned Boston the pre-Prohibition distinction of the city with the highest number of breweries per capita, cofounders Nicholas Walther and John Lincecum established their brewery in 2017. Walther formerly brewed at Harpoon, and has created a lineup of standards like JP Porter, Orange Line IPA, and Nik’s Bitter (but Never Angry), as well as an imperial squash ale recipe that’s become the signature seasonal Skwäshbuckle. In 2019, Turtle Swamp opened a second taproom in Roslindale Village, becoming the first full-time tenant of the centrally located Substation, which had been conspicuously mostly empty since the 1970s. At both locations, Turtle Swamp serves up a family-friendly, community focused experience.
Closed Tuesdays in JP and Mondays-Wednesdays in Rozzie, 3377 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-0038; 4228 Washington St. Roslindale, turtleswampbrewing.com.
Vitamin Sea Brewing
What’s a train-inaccessible brewery that’s only open Saturdays doing on this list? Making some of the most standout New England IPAs in Massachusetts right now. Just opened in Weymouth in early 2019, Vitamin Sea has been building hype around Boston and beyond for years with beer fest appearances, and awesome can art commissioned by Tree House Brewing label artist Dean McKeever—which can be enjoyed on Instagram only, lest you visit them in Weymouth. It’s worth getting a designated driver to try the often-changing stouts, cream ales, and juice bombs like the aptly named Sea For Yourself IPA.
Open Saturdays, 30 Moore Rd., Weymouth, 781-812-0882, vitaminseabrewing.com.