If you’re looking for things to do in Boston and wanting to make sure you don’t miss out on a real Bay State experience, be sure to include a Boston beer tour. Massachusetts itself has over 60 breweries and many of them call the Boston area home. If you’re just joining us, welcome. We do brewery tours of the best craft beer hot spots in town. In order to better prepare you for your tour, or to help you build your own customizable tour, I am doing a quick brewery round-up to give you a better feel of our tour stops. In today’s installment, I will cover three more of the Boston area craft breweries that one of our tour guides could bring you to on your fun-filled beer day. Let’s get started, shall we?
Castle Island Brewing Co. is located in Norwood, Mass. It’s founder Adam Romanow ditched a desk job for a brewing apprenticeship and his dream of opening a brewery became a reality five years later when Castle Island Brewing opened their doors in December of 2015. The night before opening Romanow and his head brewer, Matt Deluca, pulled an all-nighter finishing their flagship beer (slightly confusingly) called TBD, a hoppy American stout which is now available seasonally. Castle Island now has three year round beers: Candlepin, a session ale, Keeper, a new age IPA, and Lager, which is indeed a lager. Just to give you a little more insight into one of those beers, Candlepin is known as the “ultimate lawn mower beer”. At 4.4% ABV it is relatively light but also is aggressively hopped and has grainy and citrus flavors. Light beer, full flavor.
The brewery is currently in the process of building a brand new tap room so more people can enjoy their beer selection. In the past they have made-do with sample sized pours in their tasting room where people could relax at their keg tables or play corn hole while sipping on their free tasters or waiting to pick up some tall boys to take home with them. I mentioned before that TBD was now a seasonal beer, their others include a sour ale in the springtime, a marzen or Oktoberfest inspired ale for fall, and in the summer a refreshing pilsner. You will also find they have a variety of rotating double IPA’s with clever names such as “Swipe Ripe” and “Dank Sinatra”. Castle Island Brewing Co. currently has a strong focus on canning but with the new tap room they’re expected to double production.
Traveling away from Norwood to Malden, we will find Idle Hands Craft Ales although this isn’t their first home. Originally based out of Everett, Idle Hands had to move when a new casino nudged them out. Luckily, the move turned out to give the small brewery the push it needed to grow. The new Malden location has allowed space for a new tap room where you can taste their small batch offerings. Idle Hands is a great place to go if you are a Belgian beer fan or are interested in the craft. Most of their beers are in the Belgian style (a style perfected in monasteries by Belgian monks) for no reason other than, as founder Christopher Tkach says, why not? These Belgian Abbey beers don’t necessarily have to conform to strict brewing rules but they are typically dubels, tripels, blonde ales, or strong pale ales. Idle Hands’ year round offerings are Patriarch, an Abbey Style Table Ale, Triplication, a Trippel Style Abbey Ale, and Two Seam, a session IPA because everyone needs a solid IPA on their taplist. Triplication is a strong beer clocking in at 9% ABV. The flavor profile is described as follows: “ the spiciness from our house yeast is balanced with a complex melange of ripe peach, pear, pineapple and banana notes. The light malt sweetness in the finish ensures you’ll go back for seconds – or thirds!” But maybe take a bottle home instead of going for thirds this time around as there will be plenty more beer to try on your tour!
Idle Hands typically only make up to three barrels of beer in each batch but there are a wide variety of unique beers to try that you won’t typically see elsewhere. The nanobrewery is known for being low-key and relaxed but also for having very knowledgeable staff and an attention to detail when it comes to brewing and serving their beer down to making sure each beer style is served in the appropriate glass. A tour at Idle Hands Craft Ales will give you insight to more uncommon beers and you can learn about a new world conceptualization of old world beer.
We all know the story of the Mayflower but do you know the story of Mayflower Brewing? John Alden may have had the most important job on board the Mayflower’s voyage across the Atlantic; he was the the beer barrel cooper, taking care of the ship’s beer supply. Fast forward a couple hundred years to 2007, John Alden’s great, great, great, great (okay, you get it) grandson, founded Mayflower Brewing, continuing a historical family tradition of providing beer to the people of Plymouth and beyond. With respects to its ancestry, Mayflower Brewing uses only traditional brewing methods and ingredients when it comes to the production of their beers. Like many Massachusetts breweries, Mayflower has continued to see growth. Their 20 barrel brewhouse that produces up to 15,000 barrels per year recently upgraded their canning system to one that allows for the filling and canning of about 6,000 cans per hour. As well as cans, Mayflower Brewing serves their beer on draught in their on-site taproom. This family and pet friendly space has a hometown feel to it and also has that traditional pub atmosphere that I’d like to think John Alden and his Pilgrim crew would feel comfortable in.
When it comes to drinking their beers, you can order a pint (or two) or taste a couple different brews with their Speedwell Sampler or for a more extensive sampling experience, the Mayflower Voyage. Their core beer line up includes EvoLupolin, a double IPA and Daily Ration, an American session ale, as well as a golden ale, an IPA, and a porter. They also have a Cooper’s Series which consists of limited edition beer releases that pay tribute to Plymouth’s history such as the Priscilla, a Bohemian pilsner and homage to Priscilla Mullins, one of the few women to survive the Mayflower’s 66 day voyage.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start this beer tour right now. It seems like no two Boston breweries are the same. Each one is a one-of-a-kind experience with unique origin stories and brewing practices that our palettes get to reap the rewards of. Check back soon to learn about even more Boston craft beer watering holes before you get to see them in real life on one of our Boston beer tours!