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The brewery tour:

craft beer in Boston

Tea may figure more heavily in the city’s history, but make no mistake: Boston is a beer lover’s town.

Brewing has been an important local pastime since at least the 18th century. Rumour has it that the Founding Fathers brewed their own ale back in the day, and the Boston Beer Company — best known for their flagship brand, Samuel Adams — isn’t just the second-largest craft brewery in the country: it was also one of the first to kick off the nationwide craft beer trend back in the 1980s.

Speaking of craft beer trends: nowhere else in the US can rival New England’s current brewing scene, and for its part, Boston is home to dozens of exciting, independent breweries. Head to the following four for a delicious taster of the city’s beer culture.

Harpoon Brewery

Founded in 1986, Harpoon is one of the biggest craft brewers in the Boston area.  Get to know its history on a brewery tour of the facilities, which serves up sample quaffs alongside the stories. If you want to stick around afterwards (and we’d recommend it), find a seat in the adjacent Beer Hall, which makes for a comfortable place to hang out and sample the good stuff on draught (the IPA is Harpoon’s classic brew, but try some others, too).

Harpoon Brewery, 306 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210


Cambridge Brewing Company

Just over the river from Boston proper, Cambridge Brewing Company is another longstanding member of the local brewing scene, having been founded in 1989. Back in the day, Cambridge Brewing was the very first American brewery to produce a Belgian-style beer. Nowadays, you can venture to its gastropub and enjoy 13 different brews on tap (including everything from oak barrel-aged wild ales and Belgian session IPAs to stouts aged in bourbon barrels). The brewpub’s menu of seasonal New England fare is also delectable, so go on and make a meal of it.

Cambridge Brewing Company, 1 Kendall Square (Building #100), Cambridge, MA 02139


Trillium Brewing Company

Of all of Boston’s craft breweries, this one may well be the buzziest. Trillium was founded in 2013, and, on the strength of its hop-forward styles, farmhouse-style brews, and wild yeast beers, it’s now one of the most sought-after breweries in the country. Venture to its Congress Street location in Boston to stock up on bottles, cans, and growler fills (no drinking on-site is permitted), or head to its newer, 16,000 sq. ft. location in Canton. At the latter, you can admire the brewing facilities while enjoying some beautifully fresh brews in the taproom.

Trillium Brewing Company, 369 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210; 110 Shawmut Road, Canton, MA 02021


Night Shift Brewing

Night Shift Brewing, another of the city’s upstart breweries, was founded in 2012, when three homebrewer friends decided to team up and go pro. Since then, the brewery has grown into a 20-barrel brewing system spread across 30,000 sq. ft. space. Rock up to its taproom — open seven days a week — to try its wide range of styles. Night Shift brews everything from hop-bomb IPAs and barrel-aged imperial stouts to lesser-known styles like grätzner: a light and sour Polish style with a smoky edge, courtesy of its smoked malts.

Night Shift Brewing, 87 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Image credits:

Boston beer glass © iStock: EddieHernandezPhotography

Boston beer bartender © iStock: AntGor