Boston Beer Works
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
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
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
Another interesting Massachusetts area brewpub, Cambridge Brewing was
memorable. Find the website at: www.cambrew.com.
Next, we head northward: Maine or Bust.
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush