The Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain is the smallest of the company’s now-national breweries, but its small size allows it to retain a but of its grass-roots charm, including its popular brewery tour.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Glenn Harper, flickr
Since the start of the craft beer craze, Boston has had a place at the front of the pack. In the years that followed Jim Koch’s unveiling of his Sam Adams beer in the 1980s, the city has prided itself on top-quality, creative brews. Today more than 100 craft breweries call Massachusetts home, and for beer lovers who want a peek behind the scenes, many offer tours that showcase the work in progress. Here are a few Greater Boston brewery tours that will wet your whistle for more.
It is somehow appropriate that the beer named for a founding father was itself among the founders of the craft beer renaissance. From humble roots, this Boston original has grown into one of the world’s most iconic beer brands. There are now three Sam Adams breweries, but the one in Jamaica Plain is the only one open to the public. A tour here lasts about an hour, during which you’ll learn about the company’s history, explore its brewing process, and sample the results. Tours are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis every day except Sunday. Admission is free, with a $2 suggested donation that goes to charity.
The quick, free brewery tour at Somerville Brewing in Boynton Yards gives you just a taste of the work that goes on behind the scenes. The 15-minute capsule of history, technology, brew philosophy, and delicious samples will have you making informed decisions about which varieties to pick up and bring home. Public tours are conducted twice each Saturday, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Private and group tours can be arranged by appointment.
As evidenced by the massive grain silo at its Massachusetts Avenue brewery in Dorchester, this company aims big. Brewing its own creations while also serving as a brewing partner for multiple local beer creators, DB rolls out barrel upon barrel of beer each day. Founder Matt Malloy claims that Dorchester Brewing is Boston’s only brewery capable of crafting 100 different brews at the same time. On Saturdays, you can see the magic happen for yourself. Brewery tours run from noon until 3 p.m. Admission is free, but a $5 donation to a local charity is encouraged. Tours are limited to 10 people, but the good news is that even if you don’t make the cut, you can still claim a table in the taproom, where the beer delights and friendly disagreements are resolved with a game of Rock’em Sock’em Robots.
As a brand, only Sam Adams can rival Harpoon for iconic-Boston-brew status. Located in the Seaport District, where it’s been brewing for more than three decades, Harpoon offers a popular $5 tour (the money goes to charity) that often attracts long lines. So, depending on when you visit, be prepared to wait a bit. The tour is well worth the effort, though, as it brings you up close and personal with the whole brewing process and serves up samples of Harpoon and UFO beers. When the tour is over, you’ll have the option to continue your exploration at the indoor picnic tables in the beer hall or outdoors in the keg yard.
Located just outside Boston, Night Shift Brewing in Everett is a relative newcomer to the scene, but it’s fast developed a devoted following. Brewery tours are free, although donations for the Greater Boston Food Bank are encouraged. The space is utilitarian but comfortable, proving that you don’t have to put on airs to offer a top-notch experience. Night Shift is a little off the beaten path, but you’ll be happy you came as you sample a hops-tacular Santilli IPA or grab a growler of the coffee-aged porter Awake to take home.
MULTI-STOP BOSTON BREWERY TOURS
Daunted by choosing just one brewery to visit? Have no fear! The Boston brewery scene is vibrant enough to have spawned a cottage industry of outfits that can chauffeur you or your group from brewery to brewery. Boston Brew Tours, the Mass Brew Bus, Hops and Stops, and Craft Beer Lovers of Boston are among the most popular. Their lineups and schedules change frequently, but if you’re looking to extend the fun (and let someone else drive), they’ve got you covered.
Which Boston brewery tours have you been on?
This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated.