Home Feature Beertown, U.S.A.: Boston

Beertown, U.S.A.: Boston

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Pahk the cah in one of America’s most storied cities, and forget the tea party; it’s time to drink the beer of Boston.

By Jean Zove


Cape Ann Brewing Company (Gloucester, capeannbrewing.com) is a family-owned brewery worth the drive to the quaint coastal fishing town of Gloucester, Mass., about 45 minutes north of Boston. The brewery is located a block from the beach and holds tours that end at a boat-shaped bar every other weekday. Sample all the beers, including the award-winning Fisherman’s Ale, and varieties only found on tap. Harpoon (Waterfront, harpoonbrewery.com) is New England’s largest craft brewery (behind the Boston Beer Co.). This waterfront brewery frequently holds barbecues, beerfests and charity fundraising events, and hosts regular tours and sampling sessions. Try the IPA, and grab a growler-to-go on the way out. The Samuel Adams Brewery (Jamaica Plain, samadams.com) opened in the 1980s, bringing beer back to Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood that had been home to hundreds of breweries in the 1800s, which were shut down by Prohibition. Tours are held Tuesday through Saturday, every 45 minutes. Along the way, you’ll learn the history of Sam Adams, and sample and smell varieties of hops and malts. Conclude the tour in the tasting room and take home a souvenir glass. Cambridge Brewing Company (Kendall Square, cambrew.com) serves a great selection of traditional and experimental craft beer styles. Your best bet is to order a sampler and keep your taste buds thrilled with the variety of selections. Choose from house beers always on tap, cask specials and seasonals, all guaranteed to please. Then take home a growler of your favorite pick. Stop by on Sundays for “Beerunch,” an eclectic menu that includes beer-inspired brunch drinks. Home to many fine beers, as well as a winery and vodka distillery, Cisco Brewers (Nantucket Island, ciscobrewers.com) is open daily for tours and tastings, but if you can’t make it to Nantucket, watch for Cisco’s Whale’s Tale Pale Ale and Summer of Lager on tap at select bars in the city.


Beer lovers head here for a vast selection of beers poured from 36 taps at Publick House (Brookline, 617.277.2880), each served in appropriate glassware. The food menu is spot-on, with excellent beer-based selections, including a fine cheese plate to pair with your brews. Publick House also boasts the city’s largest selection of Belgian beers in a separate “Monk’s Cell” back room. Open since 1868, Jacob Wirth (Theater District, jacobwirth.com) is the second oldest restaurant in the city. An impressive array of German and local brews are on tap, plus house beers like Jake’s Special Dark and Jake’s House Lager and the exclusive Harpoon 100 Barrel Series. A piano player entertains with sing-a-longs every Friday, and a beer club holds free monthly meetings with German beer and grub. The 1950s-inspired Milky Way Lounge (Jamaica Plain, milkywayjp.com) has eight lanes of candlepin bowling, pool tables, Pac-man and live entertainment seven nights a week, including live-band karaoke and salsa dancing. Beers on tap include standard European imports, Sam Adams seasonals and the Milky Way Dark, a German dunkel-style beer, brewed exclusively for the bar by Harpoon. Dedicated to the late Charles Bukowski of writing and drinking fame, Bukowskis (Back Bay and Inman Square, 617.437.9999 or 617.497.7077) offers several well-chosen taps, cask-conditioned selections, and more than 130 bottles. If you can drink every one of the bottled beers within six months, you’ll earn your very own drinking mug to hang above the bar, engraved with any dead author’s name of your choice. A classic Irish pub located downtown in the Financial District, Kinsale (Government Center, classicirish.com) has a great rotating selection of local, national and international beers on tap, and a knowledgeable beer-drinking staff to help point you in the right direction. There’s an excellent selection of pub food, and live acoustic bands entertain on Friday and Saturday nights. With dedicated taps—the Daily IPA, Berkshire feature, Dogfishhead feature and more—no trip to the Lizard Lounge (Cambridge,lizardloungeclub.com) will ever be the same. Add a slate of the region’s best up-and-coming bands and this local hotspot is a constantly morphing venue. Luckily the beer and the menu remain excellent in all its iterations. The Plough and Stars(Cambridge, ploughandstars.com) may be in the same neighborhood it began 40 years ago, but it is anything but stale. This relatively small and narrow venue take advantage of every square foot packing in a discriminating 14 taps and 10 well selected bottles, delicious food like Red stripe-brined jerk wings and live music just about every night of the week. In order to take in the massive selection at Sunset Grill and Tap (Allston, allstonsfinest.com), you’d have to walk around the perimeter of its wrap-around bar—the walls are lined to the ceiling with bottles—and worm your way into the back bar to eyeball the wall dedicated to new releases and seasonals. Better yet, dive into the beer book for a full rundown of its 112 taps and 380 bottles. Peripherals like its discount Beer Stimulus Package, beer yards, beer cocktails and floats inject a ton of fun into suds hunting. The exposed brick, elegantly arched back bar and tall, molded ceilings set the scene at Deep Ellum(Allston, deepellum-boston.com), but it’s the beer and food that keep us coming back. For dinner choose between the rosemary Cornish game hen and smoked vegetable rigatoni while you sip on a Poperings Homel Bier. Walk into the dimly lit, Irish ambiance of The Druid (Cambridge, druidpub.com) and three things will catch your eye: an Old world bar, a pendulum clock and purple and yellow sea creature-shaped lanterns suspended from the ceiling. You’re just as likely to catch students and teachers as non-academic patrons munching on authentic newspaper-wrapped fish and chips and sipping on a brew from the thoughtfully prepared draft selection. Reminiscent of a midscale pub and eatery in downtown Dublin, The Independent(Somerville, theindo.com) has heavy, dark wood paneling inside that evokes a sense of fortified coziness, while the front wall’s expansive window lets in a enough light to keep the place from feeling claustrophobic. Friendly neighborhood locals pair well with the bar’s high-octane drafts, like Chouffe Houblon Dobbelen IPA. Meanwhile, hearty brunch items like eggs and applewood-smoke bacon will keep you satisfied until dinner.


For a no-frills barbecue joint specializing in ribs served Memphis-, Texas-, Arkansas- or St. Louis-style with all the fried fixins check out Redbones BBQ (Davis Square, redbones.com). You may come for the locally famous ‘cue, but you’ll stay for the bar. Twenty-eight taps pour a selection you don’t usually come across outside the region, like Sixpoint Otis stout on nitro, Opa-Opa Steakhouse and Brewery’s amber ale and Berkshire’ Brewing Drayman’s porter. A decent bottle list plus special brewery keg nights, and for those who choose not to drive home, a convenient bike valet parking will make sure your two-wheeler is ready to go after hours. A marina restaurant floating in the Charlestown shipyard’s waters, the Tavern on the Water (Charlestown, tavernonthewater.com) showcases views of the Boston harbor and city skyline. Order regional comfort foods like lobster rolls, fried haddock sandwiches and clam-belly rolls, or standard pub grub like burgers and grilled chicken entrees. The ambience is lively, with nightly acoustic music performances. Treat yourself to luxury dining at the Top of the Hub (Back Bay, topofthehub.net) , one of Boston’s major landmarks, the Prudential Center. At 52 stories high, you’ll have a beautiful view of the entire city from your tabletop. Enjoy New England-themed dishes like clam chowder and lobster bisque with gourmet flair, then take a stroll on the adjoining Skywalk observatory to let your meal settle. Located in the trendy arts district of South End, Masa (South End, masarestaurant.com) serves up creative Nouveau Southwestern dishes like smoked duck empanadas and avocado tuna ceviche, best chased down with a freshly squeezed Habanera-watermelon “masarita.” On a budget? Snack on $1 tapas from the bar menu. There are restaurants in every nook and cranny of the historic Italian neighborhood of North End, but restrain yourself until you get to Mamma Maria (North End, mammamaria.com. Order your favorite Italian pasta dish, or one of Mamma’s fresh seafood or wild game entrees, and top off your meal with luscious tiramisu or homemade gelato.


Built in 1851 as the Charles Street Jail house, the Liberty Hotel (Beacon Hill, libertyhotel.com) has been transformed into a gorgeous modern hotel. Metal jail bars and exposed brick walls adorn the lobby and halls, and Alibi, the hotel bar set in the former “drunk tank,” is now decorated with celebrity mug shots, and offers clever cocktails like “doing thyme” and “jailbait.” Poised in the heart of Harvard Square, Charles Hotel (Harvard Square, charleshotel.com) offers easy access to the Charles River, luxurious modern amenities, a 500-volume library of books and an extensive collection of paintings and folk art. It is also home to the Regattabar, one of Boston’s best jazz clubs. As America’s longest continually operating hotel, the Omni Parker House (Downtown, omnihotels.com) is full of history. Famous guests have included Charles Dickens, John Wilkes Booth and John F. Kennedy, and the hotel’s kitchen claims to be the birthplace of Boston cream pie. The location is convenient for exploring other historic locations like King’s Chapel, Granary burying ground and the Freedom Trail. This stylish, eco-friendly boutique hotel bears a prime downtown address, across from the Boston Common. Nine Zero (Downtown, ninezero.com) is the perfect spot for travelers with pets: The hotel offers a complimentary “In the Doghouse” package with designer pet treats and accommodations, as well as pet sitting, grooming and massages. In-room spa services are available for humans, too. Sitting right next to the Charles,the Royal Sonesta (Cambridge, www.sonesta.com) offers great views of the city and convenient benefits. The hotel features an indoor atrium pool and spa, and the Restaurant Dante has a striking outdoor patio overlooking the river, boat docks and a complimentary shuttle to Kendall Square.


Rent a canoe, kayak or sailboat, and take a mini-maritime adventure down the 17-mile stretch of the Charles River (Charles River, www.paddleboston.com, www.charlesriverboat.com). Or let a motor do the hard work, and enjoy a ride on a Charles River boat tour. Either way, you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful river and views of Boston and Cambridge from top to bottom. Baseball fans may lament the cost of Red Sox tickets at Fenway Park (Back Bay, redsox.com), the country’s most expensive seats. But for $12, anyone can afford to get a behind-the-scenes tour of this historic ballpark. Tour the press box, Red Sox Hall of Fame plaques, the oldest seats in the Major Leagues, and one of the only manually operated scoreboards to still be used in baseball. Walk the Freedom Trail (photowalks.com) marked by a red painted sidewalk stripe through Boston’s oldest neighborhoods. Begin at the Boston Common, continue to the Old North Church where Paul Revere ended his midnight ride, and finish at the top of Bunker Hill. Or, take PhotoWalks’ guided tour: A professional photographer narrates points of interest while teaching you how to take postcard-worthy snapshots along the way. Take a stroll starting at the Boston Public Garden, then amble down Newbury Street (Back Bay) and find fashionistas, street musicians, painters and posh Bostonians dining al fresco. Start at Arlington Street, and blow your spending money at upscale shops like Versace and Burberry, continue past restaurants and art galleries, and end at Massachusetts Avenue’s funky consignment shops and cafés. Follow the Emerald Necklace (emeraldnecklace.org), a “greenway” designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, by bike, car or foot. Visit Jamaica Pond, a giant glacial kettle pond; Arnold Arboretum, home to ancient Bonsai trees; and Forest Hills Cemetery, where famous Bostonians like E.E. Cummings and Anne Sexton are buried.


It wouldn’t be summer in New England without a beer in one hand and a lobster roll in the other. This classic sandwich is made with tender lobster chunks tossed in tangy dressing, served in a toasted bun. Create your own Lobster Tail Trail by following Boston’s wide selection throughout the city.  James Hook & Co. (Waterfront, jameshooklobster.com) is one of the best fish markets in town, located right on the waterfront. There’s no restaurant, but the store stocks lobster rolls behind a glass counter, made from fresh catches. Outdoor picnic tables offer a place to enjoy your roll as well as the view from the pier. Eat a fresh lobster roll and side of fries at a picnic table under an open-air tent by the water at the Barking Crab (Waterfront, barkingcrab.com). It’s a classic-style seafood shack—the kind you’ll find in practically every small town along the coastline of New England—with live music three weeknights during summer. At the Kingfish Hall (Government Center, toddenglish.com) enjoy a lobster roll served alongside fries and Boston baked beans. Sit at an outdoor table and enjoy some great Boston people-watching. The area is full of shoppers, street musicians and performance artists. You’ll find a high-end lobster roll at B&G Oyster Co. (South End, bandgoysters.com); a funky restaurant in South End. The B&G version packs steamed lobster chunks tossed with celery and lemon pepper aioli on a Pepperidge Farm buttered bun, served with homemade pickles, coleslaw and fries. At Neptune Oyster (North End, www.neptuneoyster.com) a fine-dining lobster roll is served at this small, classic oyster house in North End. This roll is 100 percent lobster, with no fillers mixed in. Choose to have your lobster dressed traditionally—cold salad-style with mayo—or served warm with butter on a toasted brioche roll.

[Photo: Marcio Jose Bastos Silva]



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