5 Top Breweries to Visit in Boston

Check out Boston’s lively brewery scene at these classic and new establishments.

By Kim Foley MacKinnon, ContributorMay 23, 2017
By Kim Foley MacKinnon, ContributorMay 23, 2017, at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

5 Top Breweries to Visit in Boston

Cambridge Brewing Company

The Cambridge Brewing Co., which opened in 1989, serves at least 10 styles of beer on tap, and the options are constantly changing. (Courtesy of Nina Gallant)

The Samuel Adams Brewery is a top destination for beer lovers who visit Boston, but by no means should it be the only one. With brand-new spots and established favorites, the Hub has something brewing for everyone. Here are some of the best places to sample a local beer.

Samuel Adams Brewery

There are probably very few bars in Boston that don't serve Samuel Adams beer on tap or by the bottle these days. After all, it's a brand that has become almost synonymous with the city, at least in many beer drinkers' minds. Owner Jim Koch was at the forefront of the craft brewing craze in the 1980s. He started brewing a lager in his kitchen all those years ago and today his company is beyond successful. Nina Senatore, guest experience ambassador at The Lenox Hotel, says, "Sam Adams provided the momentum for the local craft beer movement in Boston."

Fans can head to Jamaica Plain to take a free one-hour tour at the Samuel Adams Brewery to learn the history of the brand, see how the beer is made, then enjoy samples at the end. Keith Loveless, head concierge at The Langham, Boston, says it's worth a visit. "They do a good job. It's outside the city, so it's a little work to get to." No food is served at the brewery, but there are restaurants located near the building.

Tours are offered Monday through Saturday, and tickets are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. A $2 donation, which goes to a local charity, is requested.

Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Brewery(Courtesy of Harpoon Brewery)

Nicholas MacDonald, head concierge at Hotel Commonwealth, says that while Sam Adams is probably the most popular brewery tour in town, visitors shouldn't miss the Harpoon Brewery. "In the summertime, when you're down by the water, drinking a beer, you can't really go wrong with that," he says.

Harpoon was another brewery ahead of the curve when the craft beer craze hit. In the late 1980s, three friends who loved European beers started their brewery in what is now Boston's bustling Seaport District. The venue offers a full selection of fresh Harpoon beers, along with pretzels to snack on with your brew. If you have time, you can also take a tour of the brewery.

The Harpoon Beer Hall is open daily. Brewery tours are offered daily at various hours. Tickets are $5. You'll learn about the brewing process, then taste a range of freshly brewed Harpoon and UFO beers.

Trillium Brewing Co.

Trillium Brewing Co.(Courtesy of Trillium Brewing Co.)

This company started out small in 2013 in the Fort Point neighborhood of Boston and has since skyrocketed to beer fame, earning a long list of awards and accolades. It opened a second location in nearby Canton, which is much larger. For summer 2017, the brewery has also been tapped to operate a beer garden at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

The Fort Point spot is tiny and can be easy to miss, even with a sign pointing the way to the entrance. Visitors can't drink here, but they can purchase 32- or 64-ounce growlers, 16-ounce cans and 750-milliliter bottles to go. Since this is where the brewers test new recipes and sell them, a loyal fan base is willing to stand in line to get them. If you can't wait for a taste, Row 34 restaurant next door usually serves Trillium on tap.

For those who want to sit down and enjoy a Trillium beer at the source, the Canton location (about 20 miles outside of Boston) has a taproom where visitors can sample whatever is fresh. No food is served, but food trucks are parked outside on the weekends. While there are no tours, the space has an open-air design, so you can see most areas of the brewery, including the production floor.

Trillium Brewing Co.'s Fort Point location is open Monday through Saturday, while the Canton location is open daily.

Dorchester Brewing Co.

Dorchester Brewing Co.(Courtesy of Dorchester Brewing Company)

A newcomer on the scene when it opened in 2016, the Dorchester Brewing Co. has a creative and fun approach to beer and its production. The taproom features a 20-line tap system, with house beers served alongside local brewing partners and regional collaborators. Visitors can order a tasting flight or get a full pint and even take some fresh beer to go. There are games like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots if you want to goof around, and while the brewery doesn't serve a full menu, it sells snacks and appetizers and partners with food trucks most weekends. Patrons can also bring in their own food or even order delivery if they want.

The taproom is open Tuesday through Sunday. The brewery plans to start offering tours this summer.

Cambridge Brewing Co.

Cambridge Brewing Co.(Courtesy of Nina Gallant)

Just across the Charles River from Boston is the Cambridge Brewing Co., which opened in 1989, making it the oldest brewpub in the area. Visitors can expect at least 10 styles of beer on tap, and the options are constantly changing. While it offers classic beers made with just water, malt, hop and yeast, the brewers here love to experiment. The brewery is famed for its Belgian-style beer. The brewers also have created wood-aged beers and use microflora to enhance flavors. They even tried a sake-beer hybrid.

The pub's menu has classics like pizzas and burgers, but those burgers are grass-fed and come from local farms, while the pizza dough is made fresh daily using the brewery's spent grain and fresh beer. The kitchen changes the menu seasonally, using as many local ingredients as possible.

The brewpub is open daily.

To experience more of what Boston has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

Kim Foley MacKinnon, Contributor

Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based editor, journalist and travel writer. Her work has ...  Read more

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