Welcome back to another brewery round-up of some of our favorite breweries in the Boston area and more importantly breweries that you can visit on your Boston brewery tour with us. If you’re new here, welcome! Feel free to check out our other round-up’s to find out what you’ve been missing. But to catch you up real quick on what you’re reading: I’m going to take you through the basics of three of the potential stops on our Boston brewery tours so that you can better choose which tour you want to take or better yet, so that that you can create your very own custom tour with us. Our customizable tours allow for you to pick which breweries (we even have some distilleries) you want to stop by, and can even include pit stops to go bowling, grab a bite to eat, or whatever your heart may desire. But we figure, you might want to know a little about the potential stops before hand, so here we are! This time around we’re are going to be looking at Navigation Brewing Company, True West Brewing, and Blue Hills Brewery.
Navigation Brewing Company
Navigation Brewing Company is located in Lowell, Massachusetts, a little outside of Boston. Bob Johnson is the Head Brewer and CEO while co-founder PJ Mercier is a brewer as well as the CMO. Together they seek out new recipes to experiment with as well as revitalize traditional or even forgotten styles of beer. They are continuously rotating their brewing schedule so you never know what you might find whether it be a milk stout or a double IPA. Their limited batch beers that come and go depend on what’s in-season as well as on what the brewers are hankering to make. Their latest project is their “Uncharted Series” which puts out a variation of American Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, Double IPA’s, etc. All these and more can be found in their taproom which serves 16oz pours, growler fills and has some sweet merch for sale. The taproom is located in a building that looks to be an old industrial building, think mill, under a giant painted sign for “Western Avenue Studios”. Navigation also has an outdoor patio where kids, pups, and everyone else is welcome to enjoy the weather. Typically if the breweries open there is going to be food trucks or vendors on site to provide yummy treats to the Navigation beer drinkers.
Navigation Brewing is on the up-and-up with demand at the taproom has risen to a level where they don’t have enough extra to distribute to their draft accounts. This means there are some changes a-brewing. For Navigation to keep up with the demand, they have recently purchased a new brewhouse and fermenters. Soon, even more, people will be able to try their wide varieties of beer.
True West Brewing
True West Brewing got its name from the title of a Sam Shepard play that is about two brothers who seem to think they have a lot of differences but in the end are brought together by their similarities and brotherly love. True West felt that the theme of brotherly love and the desire to create something rooted in family and the community could help mold and define what their brewery would be. This Acton based brewery has a brother brewery called 7th Settlement in Dover, New Hampshire and is also a Community Supported Brewery (CSB). The idea of being community supported stems from Community Supported Agriculture; when it applies to breweries, it means that people can choose to become subscribers to the brewery by paying a fee, and usually, they get perks like free growler fills mugs or appreciation dinners. It can also create a more open dialogue between customers and the business. This idea was pioneered in the brewery world by Big Alice Brewing in Long Island, originally. True West is very committed to their community because that’s who supports them. They are environmentally responsible and have a sustainability initiative: 100 solar panels are used to power brewing the beer. They support local schools, the arts, and athletics through donations to organizations. And, their restaurant whose kitchen makes everything from scratch was voted “Best New Restaurant, West” by Boston Magazine and only uses locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Their menu is seasonal and has choices like thin crust pizza, tacos, burgers, salads, and apps.
The head brewer, Russell Carpenter, at True West certainly has enough credentials. He has a B.S in chemistry as well as a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He left the lab after about 10 years, realizing his true passion through his home brewing hobby. He brews up all sorts of beers at True West including a Brown Ale, Saison, Barley Wine, Imperial IPA, and a Rye Brown Ale. Their beer is a must-try, but they also have amazing guest taps from other local breweries such as Night Shift Brewing, Idlehands, and Prospect Ciderworks. At the brewery, you can see the beer being made through large windows while sitting at high top bar tables made from trees that once stood on the property. And of course, enjoy a brew!
Blue Hill Brewery
The third brewery I’m going to tell you about is currently in the moving process. Blue Hill Brewery from the South Shore is re-locating from their original location where they just had a small tasting room with beer to go to a larger facility in Canton where they’ll be able to pull pours as well. They got their name from their proximity to Great Blue Hill, the highest point in Norfolk County. The hill was named by early European explorers who noticed the blueish hue of its exposed granite. The brewery itself was established in 2008 by Peter Augis and Andris Veidis. Veidis had been a brewer for about 15 years, working for breweries such as Harpoon and Boston Beer Works. Augis, with his construction background, designed the beer taps and the bar in the original tasting room, which was shaped like a pilsner glass.
Because we don’t yet know too much about their new location which should be opening at the end of summer 2017, I can’t tell you a lot about the brewery itself, but I can tell you about something which is even more important: their beer. Their flagship beer is their IPA. They also have a Quarter Mile Double IPA, named for the length of road for muscle cars to race, which makes sense because the beer has a little bit of muscle itself. Their Imperial Red IPA is an interesting beer that balances a red ale’s sweet malt with an IPA’s super hops. Their seasonal beers include their Watermelon Wheat, Imperial Oktoberfest, Dunkelweizen, and their Three Peak Imperial Stout inspired by the rocky hills overlooking the brewery. Blue Hills brewers collaborated side-by-side with Boston hardcore rock band TREE, specifically Dave Tree, to create a strong pale ale. The goal of this beer was to be one that could be enjoyed by both an average Joe and a craft beer connoisseur. It will certainly be a treat to get to try all these beers on tap in their brand new tap room this fall, so if that’s when you’re looking to book your Boston Beer Tour, you should definitely consider Blue Hills Brewery as a tour stop.
I don’t know about you, but all this beer talk has me thirsty and ready for my very own Boston brewery tour. We have plenty of breweries to choose from, no matter what tour you end up on, or customize yourself, it is sure to be a good time full of amazing craft brews and craft beer knowledge, and maybe even some knock-out food. Make sure to let us know what you think, and if there are any breweries on our list that you’d like for me to cover before your own tour, I’d be more than happy to!