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Cisco Brewery, Nantucket

Massachusetts

A Taste and Tour of Massachusetts Craft Beer

By: Heather Lalley

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  • States:
    Massachusetts

The state is a leading figure in the U.S. craft beer revolution

Massachusetts' first brewery is said to have materialized just 17 years after the Pilgrims arrived. Since that time, it has become a leading figure in the U.S. craft beer revolution. Today, it’s home to some 60 breweries, many crafting with Massachusetts’ own malted grains, fresh hops and seasonal flavors.

Local Ingredients and Seasonal Tastes

Consider the influence of local ingredients. Valley Malt in Hadley malts grains for craft brewers across the state. (Their small scale allows them to offer heirloom and gluten-free grains to Massachusetts brewers.) Four Star Farm in Northfield and Clover Hill Farm in Hardwick provide hops. The local, seasonal produce such as cranberries, blueberries and herbs add Massachusetts flair. Harpoon Brewery out of Boston once infused a stout with local oysters! For seasonal tastes, Jack’s Abbey Brewing in Framingham crafts Mom & Pop’s Harvest Series lagers with ingredients from the family farm. The result is spectacular seasonal beer including the Pumpkin Crop Lager. At Night Shift Brewing in Everett, ask for the Cape Codder Weisse, a sour ale aged with cranberries.

Night Shift Brewing, located in Everett, produces a popular sour ale made with Massachusetts cranberries.

Night Shift Brewing, located in Everett, produces a popular sour ale made with Massachusetts cranberries.
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Brewpubs and Taprooms

The best way to sample a range of Massachusetts microbrews is to visit one of the state’s many brewpubs. Check out Cambridge Brewing Company — after strolling the lush Harvard University campus — to select from more than a dozen award-winning beers on tap. (Their refreshing Regatta Golden Kölsch is named in honor of the competitive boat races that take place on the Charles River nearby.) Like their beers, Cambridge Brewing Company’s menu emphasizes local and seasonal ingredients.

At Cape Ann Brewing in Gloucester, enjoy the relaxing view of boats and sea birds with harbor-side seating. Compete in trivia night or listen to live music while sipping a pint of Cape Ann’s smooth, amber-colored Fisherman’s Brew.

Follow your Massachusetts Craft Brewers Passport to a number of tap rooms and brewpubs across the state.

Follow your Massachusetts Craft Brewers Passport to a number of tap rooms and brewpubs across the state.
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Tours and Festivals

Want to learn more about how Massachusetts beer is produced? Take one of the many brewery tours offered around the state. Serious beer fans can pick up a Massachusetts Craft Brewers Passport at a brewery (or online) to collect stamps at each brewery visited. Guided tours typically include a walk-through the production facility followed by a tasting.

Check the calendar to catch one of the state’s annual beer festivals. There’s the American Craft Beer Fest in Boston in May, the largest small-batch beer celebration on the East Coast. The event features more than 600 craft beers. Or go super-small batch at the Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest in Somerville in June. 

The taproom is where you can do a tasting of the beers on tap, try delicious pub fare and gather with friends and family.

The taproom is where you can do a tasting of the beers on tap, try delicious pub fare and gather with friends and family.
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Spring tulips framing the George Washington statue in Boston Public Garden

Destination

Boston