There’s something for every kind of beer drinker in Boston: Here are the best brew itineraries for history buffs, sports nuts and live music lovers.
By Omar Sacirbey
FOR HISTORY BUFFS
Start with a tour (and samples) at Boston Beer Co.’s Samuel Adams Brewery (Jamaica Plain, samueladams.com), named for the patriot leader who inherited a malt house in 1748. Co-founder and president Jim Koch started Boston Beer in 1984 in the former 19th-century Haffenreffer Brewery complex, which had fallen into disrepair. From there, hop on the Orange Line train and head downtown to Jacob Wirth Restaurant (Theater District, jacobwirth.com), a festive lunchtime spot opened by German immigrants in 1868. Munch on the Reuben sticks and fresh-baked soft pretzels, best washed down with the house Jake’s Special Dark. Consider a detour to Charlestown and climb the Bunker Hill Monument for a 360-degree view of Boston, then reward yourself at Massachusetts’ oldest bar, The Warren Tavern (warrentavern.com), a colonial-style pub built in 1780 that hosted George Washington, Ben Franklin and Paul Revere. The cobblestone streets and colonial row houses of Beacon Hill are an excellent daytime excursion and also home to the history buff’s ideal stay: The Liberty Hotel (Beacon Hill, libertyhotel.com) was once the Charles Street Jail (est. 1851), and today contains five bars and restaurants, one of which is located on the former jail’s upper catwalk. For dinner, explore Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale (Downtown Crossing, stoddardsfoodandale.com), a former cutlery store built in 1868 that today is adorned with19th-century clapboards and serves up gamey eats like rabbit, quail and pheasant; 20 taps and roughly 90 bottles pour local faves like newbie neo-Belgian Mystic Brewery. Top off your night a few doors down at JM Curley’s (Downtown Crossing, jmcurleyboston.com), a cozy joint named for Boston’s iconic mayor who served four terms between 1914 and 1950. Indulge in candied popcorn and bacon, then play a few rounds of bubble hockey or browse the walls of memorabilia from the Curley era.
FOR SPORTS NUTS
Several first-rate taprooms are a relay throw away from 100-year-old Fenway Park, but three warrant mention: Eastern Standard (Kenmore Square, easternstandardboston.com), with its quality raw bar and deep Bay State beer selection from Berkshire Brewing and Pretty Things, among others, is a quintessential New England-style brunch or pregame dinner spot. A short Green Line ride from Fenway takes you to The Publick House (Brookline, 617.277.2880), which has Boston’s very best selection of Belgians, plus a tasty menu of Belgian and comfort cuisine. After the last out, head to the retro-diner-style Lower Depths Tap Room (Kenmore Square, thelowerdepths.com). With its murals of working-class Bostonians, this spot doesn’t seem like a sports bar, but given 16 rotating drafts, some 150 bottles and its proximity to Fenway, it’s a draw for thirsty fans. Celtics and Bruins fans should fill up at Boston Beer Works (beerworks.net); just steps from TD Garden, this cavernous brewpub has a kitchen that opens early and closes late, as well as game-winning house brews like the bittersweet Muddy River Porter. A few doors down, wallow in memorabilia at The Four’s (North End, thefours.com); you’ll be awestruck by the photos, jerseys (Cam Neely and Tom Brady among them), autographed basketballs and football helmets adorning the walls. No tickets? Watch Boston’s finest on 42 televisions. To catch games without rubbing elbows with the fans next to you, neighborhood hang Local 149’s (South Boston, local149.com) spacious booths face six TVs, and culinary delights like hoisin barbecue hog shanks pair excellently with 20-plus Belgian and American taps. Come football season, avoid the crowds at John Harvard’s Brew House (Harvard Square, johnharvards.com), armed with both delectable house brews and the NFL Network.
FOR LIVE MUSIC LOVERS
The city that spawned Aerosmith, The Pixies, Donna Summer and The Cars still rocks a vibrant live music scene. Head to Central Square in Cambridge and catch almost-famous indie, folk, hip-hop and punk bands at the three-stage Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub (Cambridge, mideastclub.com) and unpretentious T.T. the Bear’s Place (Cambridge, ttthebears.com). Both are short walks from Lord Hobo (Inman Square, lordhobo.com), whose top-tier, rotating 46-draft, 20-bottle lineup includes picks like Bink Triple and Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout—perfect matches for comfort food like fried chicken and waffles, and Parmesan-dusted fries with truffle aioli. Central Square concert-goers head to Bukowski Tavern (Inman Square, bukowskitavern.net) to order from 30 drafts and more than 100 bottles (or leave fate up to the beer wheel). Twenty-somethings fuel music and beer in the gritty Allston neighborhood, and before rock, punk and metal shows at The Paradise Rock Club (Allston, thedise.com), Great Scotts (Allston, greatscottboston.com), or O’Brien’s Pub (Allston, obrienspubboston.com), they hit two of the nation’s most revered beer bars: At the lively, huge horseshoe bar inside the Sunset Grill & Tap (Allston, allstonsfinest.com), patrons find Boston’s biggest beer selection in the 112 drafts and 350-plus bottles in flights, beer cocktails, ice creams and plain old pints. You’ll undoubtedly fill up on beer, but know there’s a huge food menu, too. A five-minute walk away is the hole-in-the-wall hipster haven Deep Ellum (Allston, deepellum-boston.com); diners find dishes like root-beer-braised pork belly, while 30 of the country’s best beers make it the perfect post-show closer. Take in live music and craft simultaneously at rustic Atwood’s Tavern (Inman Square, atwoodstavern.com), blessed by a smart lineup of blues, folk, bluegrass and rock acts, and taps that pour local newcomers like Nightshift Bee Tea and Idle Hands Blanche de Grace. Keep the blues and beer going in at the color-splashed Redbones Barbecue (Somerville, redbones.com), where memorabilia from blues and country greats and write-home-about-’em Memphis-style ribs take you to Tennessee; a serious tap list boasting pours like Somerville FlagRaiser IPA reminds you you’re in craft country.
EVERYONE LOVES: When Cambridge Brewing Co. (Kendall Square, cambridgebrewing.com) opened in 1989, it became Boston’s first brewpub. Since then, its brewmasters, including Will Meyers since 1997, have created more than 150 delicious beers, and haven’t let up. Consider the recent Nom De Plum, an effervescent fruity beer made with organic plum juice, Cambridge Amber, with its sweet start and dry finish, or one of CBC’s cask-conditioned brews, which change almost every day and somehow pair perfectly with the taproom’s ubercool playlist. Last March, a trio of homebrewers opened Night Shift Brewing in the town of Everett; they’ve already created more than a dozen delectable (and bottled!) beers, such as Taza stout and Trifecta, a Belgian-style pale ale fermented with three Trappist yeasts. On the go? Stop by Craft Beer Cellar, a Belmont bottle shop boasting more than 800 brews.