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—and you’ll find a vibrant subculture of drinkers, brewers, and restaurateurs doing their own thing.
Brewery owners sell for different reasons. They want to retire or need cash from their brand equity. More and more, the ESOP is emerging as both a viable alternative to a corporate or equity buy-out and a way to reward a loyal workforce if a sale is made.
Two breweries with self-distribution arms, Stone Brewing of San Diego and Harpoon Brewery of Boston, have begun distributing other craft brands in addition to their own in states where the practice is legal.
As with beer, craft cider is aiming for people with more sophisticated palates. And one of the first things modern cider makers have done is dry the palate out. To lure beer drinkers, cider makers in the Pacific Northwest started adding hops.
A decade ago, typecasting IPAs was easy. And as of 2014, the mild-mannered East Coast IPA was old news, a relic of an earlier era of craft brewing. But a funny thing happened on the style’s trip to the graveyard.
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.
Tod Mott started as an all-grain homebrewer in the late ’80s; after an internship at Catamount, he landed a gig with Harpoon and then joined Portsmouth Brewery. Now Mott and his wife are opening Tributary Brewing Co., in Maine.
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.
I once served a five-year-old bottle of craft beer to a college buddy, just for laughs. As he popped the top, I waited in anticipation for his first sip, which he promptly spit all over my coffee table. I deserved it.