It’s an honest mistake to assume Mystic Brewery’s name was derived from Boston’s Mystic River. That’s partly true, but like all things surrounding the brewing company—like the fact that there’s no actual brewery—the story’s not that straightforward.
Owners Bryan Greenhagen and his wife, Emily, are a rare breed: Both fermentation scientists by trade, Bryan spent the better part of his career working for industrial companies, where he specialized in isolating and propagating yeast strains with various flavor qualities for everyone from salmon farmers to insect repellent companies. But as a former homebrewer, he also recognized that yeast’s role in brewing was a mystery to most.
“Mystic refers to fermentation,” Greenhagen says. “People used to think brewing was a mystic process, but that’s because they didn’t know about yeast.”
So, armed with exhaustive knowledge of the organism, the Greenhagens launched their fermentorium, a.k.a. Mystic Brewery, where the duo houses its library of yeast strains—including one they isolated from a Maine blueberry—and conducts experiments with them. Head brewer James Nicholson brews Mystic’s wort at various facilities in the region, and then brings it to Mystic to combine with yeast and ferment.
The brewery’s flagship beer, Saison, arrived this summer and, in the spirit of science, is considered its constant. Available year-round “straight,” it’s also the base beer for an upcoming line showcasing local fruit and a variety of indigenous yeast strains. While the process may seem like something of a mystery to traditional brewers, the end result helps shine light on beer’s most mystic ingredient. –Christopher Staten