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Yankee Brew News Archive

Watch City Brewing Brings Urban Cool to Suburban Boston

Originally Published: 06/96

By: Dann Paquette

March's opening of Watch City Brewing Company marks the emergence of the brewpub phenomenon in suburban Boston. Watch City is also the newest and perhaps most elaborate tribute to Waltham's burgeoning reputation as a restaurant town.

On opening night there was a void of the typical brewing industry crowd. In fact this invitation-only party looked more like a Wall Street gathering from the 1940s. Watch City has a stunningly authentic art deco look with high ceilings, paddle fans, a cherry bar and exposed kitchen. In combination with such well dressed VIPs as City of Waltham Mayor William Stanley, owners Jonathan and Jocelyn Fryer, Yankee Brew News' own Ken "Lucky" Spolsino and a smattering of city officials, lawyers, and bankers, the evening had a Manhattan New Year's Eve-gala sort of feeling.

Watch City Brewing Company is just not the sort of place you think you would find in the "burbs". Then again Waltham is no typical suburban town. With a population of 58,000 Waltham is really more like two towns. First there is the downtown which is quaint and somewhat picturesque and then there's the sprawling area around Route 128 with its technology industry and big hotels. Throughout its history however Waltham has found it easy to change its look and flow with the times.

The land of Waltham was first settled in 1627 as part of the megatown of Watertown, which also contained the present day towns of Weston and Belmont and parts of Lincoln and Cambridge. In 1738 Waltham separated from Watertown and took on its own name, after Waltham, England.

Because the Charles River runs through it and because it was only ten miles from Boston's vast shipyards, Waltham was destined to become an industrial town. Waltham certainly did its part in industrial history. It dabbled in textiles as did Lowell and many other New England towns. The nation's first chalk-crayon factory was built in Waltham and in 1854 Dennison and Company moved Boston Watch to Waltham and renamed it Waltham Watch. In one hundred years of production Waltham Watch was said to have produced forty-million jeweled watches, as well as clocks, compasses, speedometers and timed fuses for bombs.

On June 4th, 1884 Waltham dubbed itself "The City of Waltham" and in the last fifteen or so years the big brick mills have been over shadowed by the glass and steel high-tech industry of route 128. Presently the home of Bentley and Brandeis colleges, Waltham's face is changing just a little more. Along with Watch City Brewing Company, the Tuscan Grille, the Iguana, Blue Stone Bistro and Bison County are just a few of the restaurants that are bringing Bostonians and Cantabridgians into the suburban "City" of Waltham.

The brewery itself sits at the corner of Moody and Pine Streets downtown. It's just a jog over the Moody Street bridge from the Waltham commuter rail stop and a one minute walk from the Waltham Industrial Museum. Inside brewer Steve Lincoln, formerly of the Ipswich Brewing Company and the Cambridge Brewing Company, takes his first appointment as head brewer. He's got an exposed fourteen-barrel Peter Austin system with four fourteen-barrel fermenters, conditioning tanks and serving vessels to work with. Initially Steve says he will offer four beers and then will add two more in due time.

His initial offerings are Tick Tock Ale, a very clean golden ale aimed at the uninitiated micro drinker; Orient Ale, a pale ale; Titan Ale, described on the menu as a "big bodied showcase for the Northwest's finest hops" which is not unlike an IPA; and Moody Street Stout, a nicely balanced, unfiltered stout. Steve is still tinkering with all of these beers and is looking at ways of making them even better. Very impressive was the Tick Tock golden ale-- the most difficult style of beer to hide problems in--was clean and tasty, the hallmark of a great start.

On the other side of the menu is Chris Napurano, formerly a sous chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. His menu boasts both traditional brewpub fare like fish and chips, burgers and chicken pot pie and specialties like homemade spaghetti, grilled tuna, linguine in clam sauce, and seared salmon entrees. Sandwiches include fried oyster and cajun chicken. He's got calamari, Bermuda fish chowder and pan-seared crab cakes on his appetizer menu. And among his list of desserts is black rum creme brulee and Key lime pie.

The decor is almost defiantly un-brewpub like. During the day it catches a lot of light from its numerous windows and its classic deco look is light and comfortable. This is not one of those ye olde rustic brew-ha-ha brewpubs. It is not the pastel wonderland of Brew Moon either.

I defy you to have a mediocre experience in this suburban brewpub. Wines are available by the glass and the prices are very average for Boston brewpubs. For more information, call Watch City Brewing at (617)647-4000.

Photo caption:

Bartender Carol Sallese lines up an array of the brewpub's offerings at Watch City Brewing Company.

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