The Brewery Exchange

0 Ratings

Type: Brewery, Eatery

201 Cabot St
Lowell, Massachusetts, 01854
United States

(978) 937-2690

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Ratings: 12 |  Reviews: 12
Reviews by JimFalzone:
Photo of JimFalzone
4.05/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I am surprised to see the negative reviews on this place. Sure.... some of the local college kids working the bar might not be the greatest beer experts, but there are always experts in the house including brewers. With an estimated 30+ employees your likely to encounter a few beer idiots, even at a brewpub. I think some of the girls were hired for reasons other than their brains.

The beer is way above average for a brewpub. Where else can you find the entire Rapscallion line along with five or six beers brewed on the premises?

I am also surprised to see criticism of the food. This must be from folks who ordered at the bar. The restaurant serves great prime rib, delicious fajitas, surf & turf, barbeque, and other higher end item besides the pub fare.

And with a dozen pool tables, a seperate dance floor, a floor for live bands.... what else could you want? I think there are at least five seperate bars in the building!

I am not a big fan of the Lowell location because it is sort of a pain in the neck to drive to. The college crowd on Friday & Saturday night makes me feel like an old man. But other than that, I highly recommend this place.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of adowney523
3.98/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I have been here several times, so I finally decided to review it. The upstairs (more of a club) is quite different from the downstairs, where there is a better selection on tap.

The Rapscallion beers are served in their own chalice, which I believe are pint-sized. At about $5.50-6, these are a great deal. The Concord and Mill City beers are served in pint glasses and reasonably priced at $4. The beers have always tasted good and fresh to me.

Service is very good unless the place is overly crowded (upstairs). The bartenders are quick to offer samples if you are unsure of what to order. I would recommend having drinks downstairs if you are there for the beer.

They have 3 year-round Rapscallion beers and one Rapscallion seasonal, in addition to the 10 or so Concord and Mily City beers, which makes the selection good.

Nachos were above average and served in a very generous portion.

Overall, a nice place to enjoy the Rapscallion and Concord line.

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Photo of beerjournl
3/5  rDev -16.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.5

Stopped here last night after work. Went into the round downstairs bar that you see when walking up to the front of the building. This is where they have all the beers on tap, but unfortunately a poorly trained young bartender (college student??) who did not really know much about their beer, and I'm guessing beer in general. He was a really nice guy and gave us samples for the asking, but clearly did not have beer smarts. His pours started out with letting the faucet run and then placing the glass underneath to reduce any chance of head forming. The glasses were filled to the top with virtually no head. More for my money, but a proper head makes a difference in a good beer. The bar area here looked like it needed some good cleaning and maintenance. Taps looked dirty and old, and there were many possibilities for cleaning and fixing in plain view.

We had a few samples of the Rapscallion selections which were a bit strong as expected, but interesting and tasty, and very different. No complaints, just no favorites yet. I then had the Concord IPA and was still not impressed. It seemed to lack the crisp flavor I would expect in an IPA. I would not recommend this beer, but it was not horrible. I then had a pint of the Concord Porter. This was not smooth as they claim but more toward astringent and/or empty. I just expected more body and richness, but I'm sure some find it decent. It was like somebody handed me a light red ale and told me it was a porter. Strange.

As we saw more people walk into the front of the place and go upstairs, we realized that there might be more action somewhere else here. We went up and found the huge club area with pool tables and a glass atrium covering the top of the actual brewery downstairs. It had more people than downstairs but still very empty, but it was Wednesday at 5pm. At the bar upstairs they didn't have the Rapscallion selections on tap, which was strange as hell, but the bartender was a great older guy who could talk beer and liquor with the best of them. Apparently he was in the spirits business in the past and loved it. We had a good time up here and had the North Woods ale in a pint. This was one of the better beers here tonight. We also sampled the Extra Pale Honey Ale which was very light and refreshing, but a bit light for us to get a pint.

Overall probably a decent place to come in this area for the weekend, and they definitely have good beer, just not great beer at this visit. I'll come back again on my next working trip to Billerica just to see if things change.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
2.95/5  rDev -18.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 3.5

Driving back to Maine from a wedding in Albany, stopped here for lunch on a rainy Sunday before Labor Day. Walked in at 1PM, we're the only diners there (the hostess said that was because it was college moving-in day, and everybody was doing that). Sat down in the dark, quiet, cavernous dining room. Lots of vintage trays, cans, and posters on display. Bar off to our left, with two people sitting there. To our right, behind a glass partition, was the brewery. The menu announce that Concord beers were served, and listed Harvard Lager, Boarding House Pale Ale, IPA, and Oatmeal Stout, as well as two seasonals, Concord Grape, and Honey Lager. I asked our waitperson if there were other selections, to which she responded " I don't know. I'm only 18 and don't drink beer." OK, I'll have a Harvard Lager, and my wife decided to try the Concord Grape. Off goes the waitperson, eventually reappearing with the Grape, but no Lager. All out of the Lager, would I like something else. She did manage to find out there was also Guinness and a Porter on tap. So, I had an IPA, which was pretty good, then a Porter , also good. My wife liked the Concord Grape, but I was already drinking the IPA and didn't try it.

The food was good and inexpensive. I don't think there was anything over $9 on the menu. Great deli pickles. However, I don't think it made up for a small selection of beers and a snotty attitude.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.08/5  rDev +13.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This place, or more specifically, the first floor section referred to as "The Brew House Pub", acts as the house organ for Concord and Rapscallion and accordingly, they have all of their beers on tap. The second floor is a sports pub/dance floor area with pool tables and the third floor has more pool tables and acoustic music. I stayed primarily on the first floor, in the pub area. The bar, itself, was marble-topped, if you dig that sort of thing. The back bar has a lot of vintage trays, bottles, cans, and posters on display. There was a beautifully kept dining area in a separate room to the right of the bar, facing aft. Beyond that, past a glass partition and a server's passageway, is the (relatively) massive microbrewery. Overall, a Hemingway-esque "clean, well-lighted place" for beer.

A note on the beers: the Rapscallion line are all strong ales, served in really big glasses, so pace yourself accordingly. I have long enjoyed all of their products, even the Concord Grape, which seems like an odd choice for a fruit beer. I have yet to experience a clinker from these guys.

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Photo of Franchise
3.83/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I frequent this place since it is basically across the street from my house. Apon entering on a friday night around 7 it was slow, very slow, which is the norm except upstairs which is like a game room that is usually busy but not tonight.

The exchange usually has clean, quick, and friendly service and tonight was no different. They had the usually fair on tap, all the Concord brews (IPA, North Woods, etc) plus all the Rapscallion offerings. But tonight I was looking for the new releases from Concord The Havard Dark Lager and the ESB. I asked the waitress about the new offering and she knew nothing. I asked her can I have the special reserve dark lager and she said "we only have one lager"

So I ordered the Harvard Dark Lager, believing that she was correct, but to my surprise they have two the original Harvard Lager by Brewery Exchange and the new Special Reserve Dark Lager by Concord, ugh! So I drank the Havard Lager thinking I drank the special reserve and tried to order the ESB from the waitress which she looked at me like I had three heads, and said "what is that" and after about a minute of staring at me blanky she went to go ask the bartender and she informed her they didn't have it down there but they did upstairs.

So we went upstairs after dinner by the way the food was great and so was the dessert but I still wanted to try the ESB as well as the Dark Lager so we went upstairs and here is where it gets good. The bartenders upstairs were more clueless than the waitress downstairs. I can give the waitress the benefit of the doubt but when your a bartender in a brewhouse please brush up on the specials and beers you serve.

I sat down and looked at the taps, I saw the Harvard Lager and a special reserve tap. So I asked the bartender do you have the ESB and his response "what, what kind of beer is that" so I said the Extra Special Bitter and he said "oh, oh yeah the brewer said that name, they would have that in a few weeks" ok so my time there was a somewhat of a failure, tried the Dark Lager but next time I'll make sure I do my homework and not rely on the staff that seems to be the best method.

Overall, my dining experience was great. My beer experience not so much, I guess this is the first time really looking for help for new beers at a brewpub. So next time I'll make sure to do my homework and not rely on the staff of a brewpub to know what they are serving, or should I have to?

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Photo of slander
2.45/5  rDev -31.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 1 | selection: 3

I don't know. I mean, looking at the listing of Eastern Massacussetts brewpubs, this is one in a small handful that I hadn't hit yet. From where we were in Hudson, it's roughly only a half hour away, and it was clear that Phil wanted nothing to do with the Brew Works in Salem, so with some time on our hands before we need to be at Anam Cara, Mill City seemed like the best bet at the time...
495, Lowell connector, 3A North, left here, right there, had to do some light stumbling around to find it but we did and just in time to grab the absolute last piece of space to park in the massive lot across the street. Entering into the enormous building, I ask at the desk, "Where's the bar?" and am pointed upstairs to the second floor to find a set of massive long retangular rooms divided by a glass front sunken room with fermenters. The near room houses an elevated stage and dance floor area at one end, and then 4 dozen square tables running back towards the pair of bars in this room. One is "U" shaped seating a dozen, and the other a rectangle island seating 2 dozen. To the rear of this room lies a nook with a half dozen dart boards and just as many round raised bar tables. The far room holds a "C" shaped bar seating a dozen, a pair of Foosball tables, a pair of Air Hockey tables, a dozen Billard tables, some video games and pinball machines, and Phil's golf game "Live", which is some kind of virtual 3D version with a shock collar. Lots of old brick throughout this massive expanse. TV's above, and on all angles and in all corners, mirrored walls, ceiling fans, drop spot track lighting, and offensive neon maco light signs. The big brick is cool, the rest of it is not. We ventured up to the third floor to find a half dozen smaller pool tables and an Air Hockey table in one room and a larger room with a rectangular bar and a whole shitload of tables set up for a Texas Hold 'em event. Nothing goin' on up here, we're heading back downstairs.
4 house taps listed on the blackboards above the bar (Oatmeal Stout, Mill City IPA, Harvard Lager, Horseshoe Ale), Guinness, Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, and many shitty macro bottles (Way to support your brewer and undermine his craft). I've got to tell you. About 95% of the place were drinking crappy bottles. We drew bartender Roger Waters (I named him so because he looks like Roger Waters circa '77 and I felt of his bartendending abilities like I do about Roger Waters versus David Gilmour in the great Pink Floyd debate. Here's a hint. It's all about the Gilmour). Anyway, I clearly asked Roger Waters for a pair of Mill City IPA's and received Harvard Lagers, and they weren't very good. The Oatmeal Stout was just so-so. Now, the blackboard over the rear bar also lists the words "Concord" & "North Woods". Wait!! What does this mean? We don't know. I caught the bartender who had been working the rectangular island bar as he was walking through and asked him. Has was vague and indifferent, but we did get out of him that there was more beer going on downstairs.
All right, I've had about enough, we're out of here. But first, I want information. Heading downstairs, we pass through the main dining room, through a smaller party room and into a silo shaped room with a marble topped, octogon shaped bar seating a dozen. Other than the taps, the room is exactly like the one Charlie and Grandpa Joe floated to the ceiling in after having stolen fizzy lifting bubbles (I said, "Good day, sir!!!"). I was pretty pissed off by the time I got here and it has been "alledged" that I was yelling at the people behind the bar, "Can someone tell me what the hell is going on here with the beer?!?! What is Concord?!?! What is North Woods?!?!" (These are lies and you can not believe anything Ken or Phil tell you or I will be forced to leave them in another state, far from a train station). They had 7 taps down there (Oatmeal Stout, Red Ale, Porter, IPA, Lager, Ale, Pale Ale), many with Concord tap handles and they half assesdly asserted that they had 3 Rapscallion taps (Creation, Premier, Blessing) "down there".
"Down where?" Behind the bar, well hidden, if you ask me. Still absolutely no idea what the deal is here and there's no one here who seems to know either. Concord beers being made at the Mill City Brewing Company? Rapscallion too, but retaining it's own identity? I think so, but I'd be guessing.
This was such an unpleasant scene that Phil... Phil who wants to work in the industry and doesn't want to ever write a stitch of beerfly or beer review because he might offend someone... yep, that Phil, well he said, "I would have no problem putting pen to paper for this one".

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Photo of Longstaff
3.8/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Let's see, you sit in the Lowell Brewery Exchange drinking Concord beers labelled as Mill City. If this doesn't confuse you, then the beer list will. The list that was given to me at a table listed Harvard Lager, a Pale Ale, IPA, Oatmeal Stout, and "Other seasonals - please ask your waiter" - asked the waiter and he said seasonals were Rapscallion regular and Blessing. But when I took a look at the list on the blackboard behind the bar I see, Harvard Lager, Pale Ale, Grape Ale, IPA, Porter, Oatmeal stout, Northwoods, and Vienna Lager - but no mention of the Rapscallions, but you could see the tap handles on the back tower. Clearly these delicious beers are not getting the respect or advertising they deserve. While I was there, they 86'd the Porter and replaced it with Miller Litet to complement their Bud and Coors light taps - very unfortunate. With multiple pool, foosball, and air hockey tables, and dartboards upstairs, this looks like it would be a fun place to hang out and drink good beer. Had some overpriced mediocre wings ($7 for six), and a decent burger with mushy processed fries with the decent Harvard Lager. Then I moved to the bar and a had a couple of tasty Rapscallions which were poured to the top of a Rapscallion glass. I thought the Blessing was pretty tasty and the Premier was just a little overspiced for my tastes, but still quite quaffable. Good to see Concord still brewing tasty beers, I just hope they are given a little more respect by the management and waitstaff.

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Photo of gentlebubbles
3.83/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

The Brewery Exchange is still a great place to go. Between the cafe, the restaurant, and the play loft, there's something here for everyone.

The whole thing about the name change and brewery change is confusing. I was up in the play loft and the taps had a mix of Concord (IPA, Grape Ale, Oatmeal Stout) and Mill City( Harvard Lager, Boarding House Pale Ale) - plus the inevitable Guinness. The chalkboard listing the taps called all of them "Mill City". I guess I can't blame them for trying to preserve the name.

The food is your standard pub fare at the bar. The appetizers were okay, decent nachos, and buffalo wings that were plenty hot.

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Photo of Admiraldinty
4/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I went to the restaurant section of this place. I had the Boarding House ale and some fish and chips. This was a pretty nice place. Had a very good selection of beers, including a sampler. Nice atmosphere too. You can eat your dinner and look out into the actually brewery. From what I heard they don't brew their beer here though. I'd like to return and try some more of their brews. I heard that the IPA is quite good.

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Photo of goz
3.33/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Mill City Brewing company is (was?) located in the 3 story "Brewery Exchange" in downtown Lowell. The first floor has a small bar, and a large dining area. The second floor has a sports bar w/dart boards, a dance floor, and a bunch of pool tables. The third floor has a bar with a small stage for bands to play, and some more pool tables. The dance floor gets crowded and loud on weekend, as the college crowd floods into the place. I usually go to either the downstairs bar, or the sports bar area. Service is typically good, but I have had bad service in the past as well. Food is pretty good, some of the best chicken fingers in the area. The beers are pretty much average, with the IPA being the one I drink most, and a decent Oatmeal Stout as well.

The brewery itself recently closed, but the beers are (were?) being contract brewed by a local brewery. I don't know what the deal is going to be with their beers in the future, but the Tap in Haverhill is close enough to hit instead of Mill City anyway.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
3.9/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

This is a very large place, one of the largest "brewpubs" I have ever seen (it seems larger than the Boston Beer Works near North Station in Boston). There is a large restaurant on the first level with a bar area, and outdoor seating in good weather. On the second level are the main bar areas, and then up another level for more activities. This place can get pretty full and rowdy on weekends, and many in the crowd seem to care little that Mill City brews are available, as the Bud and Bud Light are flowing freely. The Mill City micros on tap are good (usually more than 5 to choose from), and the food is good. This is a good place in Lowell, and is convenient to the Tsongas arena, etc.

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The Brewery Exchange in Lowell, MA
Brewery rating: 0 out of 5 with 0 ratings
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