Boston Local Food Festival

Presented by Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts

Boston’s Vibrant Local Brewery and Food Scene: A History and Top Picks

Written by Lizzie and Sam of Off The Beaten Path Food Tours, members of the Be Local Blogger Network.


It can seem strange that Boston, a city with such puritanical roots and strict happy hour laws, would have such a booming hyper local craft beverage industry but it’s true! Perhaps it’s the focus on experimentation and DIY that drives the interest here in Boston. Or maybe it’s the fact that the Sam Adams Brewery in JP is one of our top attractions. And now perhaps since our food scene is finally exploding with innovation and unique ingredients, so are our options in alcohol pairings.


Whatever the case may be, at Off The Beaten Path Food Tours we find it a joy to share more with our guests about the history of alcohol. On our tours, we are often able to sample local beverages as a nod to Boston’s strong brewing history which goes back to the 1600’s. In fact, Samuel Cole obtained the first official license for a tavern in Boston in 1634. By 1637, Robert Sedgewick obtained a beer brewing license, and the industry back then was centered around maritime trade. If you looked around at the early taverns in the late 1600’s, you would notice not surprisingly that they were located mostly near docks of the Boston Harbor, in what is now part of our robust Financial District. Sometimes ship captains would open taverns in Boston, and much of the Boston beers were shared on ships sailing from the American colonies back to Europe.

Starting in the mid 18th century, Boston which had previously imported more beer than it produced domestically began focusing on local brews. There was even government support in the form of a 1789 Act which encouraged the manufacture and consumption of strong beer, ale, and other malt liquors that exempted breweries from most taxes. Can you imagine if that was the case today? In fact, the Boston officials at the time were trying to encourage beer consumption as a healthier option than whiskey which was the drink of choice at the time.

Today there’s a whole cottage industry of micro-breweries that are fun to visit. Here are some of our top picks for where to sample these delicious beers.


Flatbread Somerville

45 Day Street, Somerville

On our Davis Square Food Tour, we are lucky to visit this unique historic bowling alley which also serves delicious local pizzas full of local ingredients. A strong community partner, Flatbread Somerville also serves a variety of local brews including those from Bantam Cider Company, Somerville Brewing Company, Lamplighter Brewing Company, Jack’s Abbey, and others.


Grendel’s Den

89 Winthrop Street, Harvard Square

On our Harvard Square Food Tour, one of our favorite places to go is Grendel’s Den. They were actually the first to have Cambridge Brewing Company beer on tap. In fact, they were actually quite helpful in getting CBC to distribute its beer and helped them figure out how to store and transport their first keg. Our guests love drinking CBC’s Amber beer on our tours, which is always on draft, and they also have an extensive menu of other local brews.


Turtle Swamp Brewery

377 Washington Street, Boston

Although Sam Adams is the most well known Boston brewery, there’s now a second brewery in Jamaica Plain! On our brand new Jamaica Plain Food Tour, we focus mostly on historic Centre Street, but we also take guests on an optional excursion to Turtle Swamp Brewery which is near the Green Street MBTA station. They have a variety of delicious beers including one that’s made entirely of Massachusetts ingredients, so I say let’s drink to eating local!


Aeronaut Brewery

14 Tyler Street, Somerville

On our
Union Square Food Tour, we often visit Somerville Chocolate inside of Aeronaut Brewery, and the vibe there is always spirited and fun. This wonderful addition to the Somerville community hosts many community events and also has its own Tasting Lab. They even used some of Somerville Chocolate’s cacao for one of their delicious beers, and our guests often enjoy staying there after the tour.



We hope you’re curious enough to try one of our Food Tours of Boston, Cambridge, or Somerville. We look forward to meeting you! And what better way to celebrate all of these delicious, local brewers than by heading over to the Hyper Local Craft Brew Festival? Get your tickets TODAY:


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Posted by: Nicola on May 2, 2018 @ 11:30 am
Filed under: Blog