Boston has long been an old city with a newness problem. This adherence to tradition also applies to beer. But veer off the path—into Somerville, Charlestown or Everett, perhaps—and you’ll find a vibrant subculture of drinkers, brewers and restaurateurs doing their own thing.
On July 9, Harpoon Brewery introduced its employees to the new owners of the company: themselves. Harpoon’s shareholder group transferred 48 percent of its stock to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, effective August 1.
Inspired by the successes of Bay Area breweries, Phil Bannatyne, a New Englander by birth, moved back to the East Coast in the late 1980s planning to get into the beer business. The space he could afford turned out to be in Kendall Square, a stone’s throw from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Boston area’s first gastropub was born on July 11th, 2002. David Ciccolo was making beer for Tremont Brewing and bartending to help pay the bills. When he realized his bartending “partner in crime,” Ailish Gilligan, shared his interest in opening a spot, they got to work on The Publick House.
For about a half-decade now, rapid expansionism has defined the United States craft beer market. But with the recent announcements of market retreats by many large and mid-sized breweries, the needs of beer drinkers will soon fall once again to local brewers.
Some may think to themselves that the last thing the craft beer world needs is another brewer taking a lot of malt and a lot of Cascade hops, and acting like it’s brand new; well, Andris Veidis tends to agree.
Eighteen years ago, Al Marzi was hauling kegs for Harpoon. Now, he’s the guy filling those kegs. He’s in charge of two breweries, in Boston and Windsor, Vt. He’s nurturing regional flagship brands and springing one-offs on an expectant populace.