Sep 21, 2018

Boston Beer Works

October, 2000

By Bobby Bush

Greater Boston, which includes the college community of Cambridge, is home to six brewpubs. Half of the lot are part of brewpub groups: two Brew Moons and one John Harvard’s. These are fine establishments, but are too same-same to warrant a visit on such a rush-rush trip up the coast. We had but one more stop in Bean Town, at Boston Beer Works, survivor of legal action by Samuel Adam’s Boston Beer Company.

Literally across the street from Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox, Boston beer was well equipped for game day hysteria. Luckily, this off-season Saturday afternoon was a bit slow, so we had time to enjoy 16 different beers on tap. Hotdog ordered, we started at the top of the line-up with Bambino Ale, a cold and good beginners brew. Malty yet not really sweet, Allston Mild was medium bodied, as was Boston Red. Faint bitterness protruded from its chocolate malt facade. Fenway Park Ale was well rounded, beginning fruit-like and closing with subtle hops bitterness.

I did a double take on the blueberries floating in my glass of Bunker Hill Bluebeery. Though berry aroma was missing, the taste more than made up for the AWOL nose. Though not as spicy as its recipe would lead - cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla - Pumpkinhead was a plump beer made with real pumpkin. Pronounced rye-ness and a spicy nose were the highlights of Independence Rye. Its yeasty texture revealed alcohol notes and a sweet finish. At 8% abv, Fig Works was smooth and plum-like.

Bay State ESB inspired the comment: “if that’s an ESB, I wonder what their IPA tastes like.” Back Bay IPA was indeed even hoppier. Deep copper in hue, Beantown Nut Brown had a chocolate nutty taste, while dark chocolate ambushed the complex maltiness of Muddy River Porter. Full bodied Curley’s Stout ran from a malty intro to a dry, bitter finish. More fruity and sweeter, Buckeye Oatmeal Stout was similar though it veered with tart aftertaste. The 12% abv Hercules Strong Ale was cloudy copper in color. Malt dominated the flavor profile, hiding the alcohol impact well. Only in the swallow did bitterness protrude. Wine-like and flat, Cask Conditioned Curley’s Stout was not an improvement on the carbonated version.

Sandwiches, steaks, ribs, seared salmon, swordfish and sweet potato fries served with raspberry vinegar, Boston Beer Works has an extensive food menu that almost rivals the beer list. This warehouse-turned-brewpub, in business since 1992, is a beer freak’s paradise.

Time to move across the river to Cambridge’s only non-chain brewpub. Cambridge Brewing Company was a little hard to find, though well worth the hike. Established in 1989, large stained glass windows, featuring pint glasses of different “American Ales,” adorned the brick structure’s upper front. Skylights provided lighting to the dining area and crowded C-shaped bar below. Taking note of a trio of GABF medals above the bar, we began with Regatta Golden. Almost medium bodied, this malty ale was a pleasant break from the usually tricycle brew. Tall Tale Pale was nicely hopped up front with a sour grapefruit (Cascade hops?) finish. Caramel meets harsh chocolate covered Cambridge Amber, while Charles River Porter was closer to a Dry Stout, brusque with a tannic finish.

Making the most of its 6.8% alcohol content, Big Man Ale was ultra malty evolving into a hop-swifty, dry finish. Proper pumpkin flavor was evident in Great Pumpkin Ale. Even with its spicy nose, this orangish brew could have been a touch sweeter. Bannatyme’s Scotch Ale, working 9.0% abv, left lace upon the glass as its sweet pungent maltiness was consumed. Like a smooth mocha milkshake, Blackout Stout wafted a chocolate/coffee nose and big mouthfeel. Delicious. Cambridge Brewing takes beer appreciation and education one step further than many. They hold monthly beer dinners.

Another interesting Massachusetts area brewpub, Cambridge Brewing was memorable. Find the website at:

Next, we head northward: Maine or Bust.

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush


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