One of our big themes on this site is the ability of beer touring to transform any boring trip into a destination. While Boston is a fantastic beer city, going there for business could be as much fun as going to a strip club in a straight jacket. So when I found out I had two days of all day team building, collaborating, business break out sessions and other corporate skull drudgery the first thing that came to mind was what bars were the closest.
So I flew in on Tuesday afternoon and headed to one of my co-worker's places to do a little "working" from home. Checking emails, watching the clock and sitting on conference calls gradually gave way to the closing bell and like Fred Flintstone we headed out to see the city. Our first stop was Trillium Brewery which is highly rated and one that I was itching to try.Trillium was quite a surprise in it's simplicity. A wooden warehouse with barrels on display, and two helpful gentleman up front were all that was visible in this lean operation. Unfortunately there is no tasting room so growler fills and bottles are all they offer. The other thing that surprised me was that for a brewer so well rated for IPA's, there were none available. We grabbed a few different offerings and headed on our way. As of this time I have had their namesake saison and the oatmeal porter and certainly have not been disappointed. Our next stop was a bottle shop next door called Fort Point Market where we were confronted with a barrage of local brews and food choices. We grabbed a few offerings from Cambridge brewing and were not disappointed.
The main goal of the night was to catch dinner and more beers at the Sunset Grill and Tap as I had read numerous reviews. Sunset touts itself as a beer bar with hundreds of offerings and top notch pub fare. This place lived up to the hype featuring a beer menu that was loaded with unique barrel aged beers, foreign offerings, sours, and numerous other hard to find craft beers. Adding to the beer selection was a waiter that knew his beers and pointed me to a Clown Shoes Halloween Exorcism. This was a boozy, rich glass of warmth that propelled my evening in the right direction. We then tried the mystery beers which means that for four dollars they bring out a random beer in a paper bag. While normally a recipe for getting something I have had before, I had no worries due to the vast menu. A Habanero Sculpin and an IPA from Evil Twin did not let us down as we both had not tried these before. The night got better when our food came out. Three of us shared steak burritos, deep fried empanadas and a fantastic pub burger. I could go back to this place every week and still find new beer and food options to satisfy. Our check came and we hopped a train to go to an Irish bar on the way back home. While the Irish bar had great ambiance and lots of old world charm, the beer menu was lacking. Typical domestic and foreign macros were joined by some interesting local selections. The first three beers I ordered were out so we only had one beer here before calling it a night. After all it was a Tuesday night and we had meetings the next day at 8 AM.
The next day came early and I ended up missing my ride to the meeting. I really can't blame the beer as it was more of a miscommunication and I would not talk bad about my favorite beverage anyway. So battling slight embarrassment, serious beer gas and a mild headache I soldiered through until lunchtime. Lunchtime led to afternoon and much talk of what the night ahead would promise. When the closing bell came we retired to the hotel after working our way around the Boston suburban traffic. My teammates and I had some beers to share and did an impromptu tasting of Texas, Florida and Massachusetts beers before heading out to dinner at the Yard House.
The review I got of the Yard House was that it was a corporate establishment with rather standard beer offerings that would appeal to a novice beer drinker. At Beer Up, we try to stick to independent, local and unique establishments so I was leery from the get go. Thankfully I was completely wrong in my expectations. While micro and local is all the rage, there is a lot to be said about successful businesses that have grown up. Good businesses should not be penalized for being successful and I sometimes fall victim to beer snobbery and macro bias. Macro in name and geography, this place was anything but ordinary inside. Local beers galore, limited release beers, pre-picked flights, in house brews and taps as far as the eye could see made this a destination I will frequent whenever I am in a city with one. Aside from being a beer mecca, Yard House had an extensive and reasonable menu from which I sample duck wings as an appetizer and a delicious rib eye. You don't get a body like mine eating salads. I sampled numerous beers myself and with the group, but some of the highlights included.
1. Smoke and Dagger- A smoked beer from Jack's Abbey that was both silky smooth, light and flavorful
2. Be Hoppy- A flavorful burst of hops by Wormtown Brewing out of Worcester MA
3. An oatmeal porter by Ipswich brewer out of Massachusetts (Did I mention they had a great local selection?)
4. A seasonal pumpkin beer from Wormtown
5. Larry- My favorite beer from Wachusett Brewing
I could have stayed here all night and never repeated a beer but we headed to King's Bowling for some activity and a change of scenery. King's bowling was an upscale alley featuring bowling up front and a variety of bar and table games in the back room. The beer selection was also surprisingly solid for the type of establishment it was.
After two nights of beer touring, I had an easier time making it to the next day's session. More sleep deprived than anything, I made it through the second day which was a shorter setting to allow for travel. Vowing that tonight would be different and that I would take it easy we headed into the city towards the airport to get dinner. Dinner brought us to Yankee Lobster Company as I was craving a hot buttered lobster roll and one last taste of New England. Yankee Lobster did not disappoint. They offered fried seafood platters, traditional seafood dishes, fried lobster rolls, hot lobster rolls and the cold variety. Obviously all this seafood pares well with a local beer and they had 5 locals on tap as well as a number of bottles. One beer could not hurt so I ordered a Slumbrew seasonal which was fantastic as we sat outside in the cool October weather chowing down on seafood.
With our whistles whet and stomachs satiated, we were informed that Harpoon Brewery was across the way from us. It seemed like the slope was getting slippery, but I figured why not. Harpoon was another instance where success and resources have led to a fantastic product. The bar, fixtures, retail shop and staff were fantastic. Beer tours were offered and the bar featured many varieties as well as enticing pub fare. I am an IPA guy so I was not too worried, but the only thing missing was a larger selection of dark beers. I kept my sampling to two beers of which I most enjoyed the Dark Ale on cask with cherry wood. Fearing for the nostrils of my fellow plane mates, we got our tabs and headed to the airport. Not to be outdone by anyone, Logan airport features a Legal Seafood and a craft beer bar inside the terminal. My guardian angel must have been holding me back as we could not get a seat at the beer bar. Seeing this as an omen, we headed to the plane leaving Boston behind in the process. Two nights in Boston was just not enough and we plan to make a road trip soon. Until then....
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