The End of Mystic Brewery

Discussion in 'US - Northeast' started by Todd, Sep 27, 2019.

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  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,682) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    Bryan asked us to post this as its own thread. Loved their beers whenever I was back in town, and I wish them nothing but the best wherever the future takes them.


    We are sad to share the news today that Mystic Brewery has decided to discontinue brewing operations and intends to wind things down over the next few weeks. During this time we will be celebrating what our brewery has accomplished by releasing some final batches, special beers, and selling off our beer archive as well as selling off all of our barrels to the public. We will release details as soon as they are determined.

    All of us at Mystic extend our eternal gratitude to everyone who helped us and supported us in our mission to change beer culture for the better in Boston and beyond. It has been a wild ride from the first saison in 2011, through the barrel program highlights of Entropy and Ventus, and onto Voltage IPA and Post Apocalyptic Xanadu.

    Personally, I am very proud of the many Mystic alumni going on to their own success as well as the incredible team of great people we have now. We are sad to wind down our work here, but we are proud of what we accomplished and know in our hearts that the impact of Mystic will remain long after the doors are closed.


    Bryan Greenhagen
    Founder and Brewer
    Mystic Brewery


    Here's more from Bryan on the reasons behind the closure:
  2. matthewp

    matthewp Aspirant (234) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    I am really disappointed by this as well as surprised. It wasn't long ago they were planning on expanding to a second location. Given the lack of information we can only speculate and there's no value in doing that.

    Personally I think Mystic has been one of the best breweries in MA. I loved going to the brewery before my flights out to Boston and will miss that greatly. Table beer was absolutely incredible. One part of me was sad to see them shift off of their focus of Belgian beers since they did them so well but I was also excited because they ended up making great IPA's as well. The craft beer world is worse off without them. I wish everyone there good luck. This is Pretty Things all over again.

    One last thing @Chlodwig23 thank you for all of your posts on BA (as well as great beer), I especially found the thread you contributed to on Light Struck Saisons to be truly enlightening and exactly what the spirit of BA is all about:
    Good luck
  3. rdecker679

    rdecker679 Initiate (30) Oct 8, 2015 Massachusetts

    Anyone have any insight into why? When I lived nearby, I was there weekly, and it always seemed to have enough of a crowd.

    I was really looking forward to this year's three cranes, and will definitely miss table beer come summer.
    AlcahueteJ and rudzud like this.
  4. emannths

    emannths Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts CBC moving in?
  5. jbertsch

    jbertsch Poo-Bah (1,593) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    Yeah remind me, wasn't CBC doing some barrel aging there or something?
  6. Stormfield

    Stormfield Aspirant (229) Feb 21, 2011 Massachusetts

    Yes. CBC was using the space and the brew house for their barrel-fermented beers. I don’t know the exact details of the deal, but the brewhouse was purchased from HF. Both CBC and Mystic were a part of the deal, and there was some kind of unique arrangement between them. I’m sure someone can provide more details. But like everyone else, I’m eager to learn more about the closure.
    jbertsch likes this.
  7. mrmattosgood

    mrmattosgood Aspirant (277) Nov 6, 2010 Canada (BC)

    I don’t know ... I don’t know the reasons and maybe they were crushing it, but I was a fan of Mystic when they were saison heavy and doing some great Belgian stuff. Then they kind of sold their soul for DDH garbage. Oh well.
  8. rudzud

    rudzud Initiate (0) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts

    An unfortunate sign of the times. I thoroughly enjoyed their saisons but sadly hazy IPAs rule in New England let alone Massachusetts. The breweries that haven't kowtowed at the haze altar are far and few between. I'm reminded a little bit of Pretty Things in that regard.
    JrGtr, woodfinish and Sheppard like this.
  9. mrmattosgood

    mrmattosgood Aspirant (277) Nov 6, 2010 Canada (BC)

    I’m just beyond feeling badly about the loss of breweries who are making subpar products, especially when they were great in the lane they were in. I don’t buy into the “IPAs are what sells, so pivot to that” logic. Obviously, I’m not celebrating folks losing their jobs and I wish those people well. Many of us have been on the end of that side of it (including myself) and that sucks for so many reasons.
  10. matthewp

    matthewp Aspirant (234) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    I think this is an unfair statement. It is true they reduced (greatly) their production of non IPA's but they still produced some great beers in parallel. Regardless sometimes in life you need to do what it takes to pay the bills, making a style that sells better in order to keep your brewery in business isn't exactly selling your soul. Its like saying you sell your soul when you make career choices based on having a wife and kids at home.

    On top of that their IPA's were quite good. Beers like Day of Doom sat on the shelves there for months whereas their IPA's were (at least they used to) selling quickly. I'm not a fan of the mentality that breweries should feel bad about brewing beers that sell well. Who knows maybe he gave up on Mystic because making IPA's didn't make him happy and he needs to reboot as a smaller brewery focusing on the styles he wants to focus on. I think its easier for a brewery like Oxbow to stay true to their roots when they are located in an area that is 1. Cheaper and 2. a more localized beer destination. People are going to Portland just to go to Allagash, I'm sure that helps Oxbow.
  11. meefmoff

    meefmoff Zealot (504) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    Damn, did not see this coming. I thought the conventional wisdom was that their IPAs sold like gangbusters regardless of the status of their other stuff. I wonder if losing their proposed new Malden location hastened the end or if it was itself something of a last gasp effort?

    @matthewp's point about the brewer wanting to start anew is an interesting one. They didn't have a great location or space, and the brand had a sort of vague identity these days. Doesn't seem crazy to think starting over was worth a shot.

    Hope all involved land on their feet one way or the other.
    AlcahueteJ and matthewp like this.
  12. rudzud

    rudzud Initiate (0) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts

    If one can brew a product that will just sit on the shelves or one that will move, most will opt to brew the one that moves. I'm not pretending to know what happened with Mystic but if their saisons are no longer selling at the level they once were whereas IPAs do, well, one has to make money to stay afloat. To put your head down and press forward so to speak and refuse to give in to market trends and haze bombs is a bold move nowadays. I can think of three Massachusetts breweries right off the bat that swore they would never brew a New England IPA or hazy ipa in general but when push came to shove they begrudgingly did so. Is it a shame that a brewery couldn't open up and just sell Dortmunders, you betcha, but the market dictates that you can't. Not if you want to make money anyways.

    I haven't used this glass in ages but I'll have to dust if off and raise it in honor of another fallen great brewery.
    AlcahueteJ, JrGtr and Sheppard like this.
  13. rudzud

    rudzud Initiate (0) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts

    People should be going to Portland just to go to Extrava but that's an entirely different thread.
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  14. matthewp

    matthewp Aspirant (234) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    I haven't been to Extrava yet but I can't wait to. I love IPA's, love NEIPA's but I'd love even more to see more Belgian inspired breweries succeed. Oxbow and Extrava in the same neighborhood is just insane. Now that Mystic is going I may have to just move to Portland :wink:
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  15. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (384) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Very unfortunate. Mystic do fine work and I'll miss them (though I'm another one of those malcontents who prefers their saisons over the NEIPAs they've been focusing on recently). And though it's long gone and will presumably never appear again, I'll always recall their Welkin Ringer ESB with great affection. Would that that had become a year-round brew.

    Best wishes and many thanks to the brewers and their employees.
  16. aughtomat

    aughtomat Initiate (0) May 22, 2017

    Mystic never got a ton of hype around here, but they make some great beer. The Belgian stuff is great, not to mention some delicious NEIPAs and sours; the taproom is lo-fi and chilled-out, and a great spot to sit down and have a drink. Total bummer they're going, I'll miss it.
  17. aughtomat

    aughtomat Initiate (0) May 22, 2017

    And good grief, I just remembered Three Cranes. An all-time favorite. Gah!
    rudzud and rdecker679 like this.
  18. eaglephile

    eaglephile Initiate (164) Jan 12, 2009 Massachusetts

    Man this is a complete bummer. Their Belgian beers were consistently good, and there was a time ~2 years ago that I was all in on Danger Danger. For my money they struggled to figure out their niche in the IPA market, as they rotated regularly including milkshake styles.

    I’ll echo what others have said - here’s to everyone involved landing on their feet.
  19. yuppiescum

    yuppiescum Initiate (47) Jun 4, 2009 Massachusetts

    A loss for Chelsea too.
    AirBob likes this.
  20. DrewLS

    DrewLS Initiate (148) Oct 7, 2012 Massachusetts

    Huge bummer. Always made sure to make a pit stop at Mystic when I was in the area. Always enjoyed their beer and the taproom, too.

    Not to detail the thread and of course Mystic's decision could very well not be financially driven, but coincidentally Slumbrew also filed for bankruptcy today I've heard.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  21. Caitlin

    Caitlin Initiate (0) Oct 20, 2005 Massachusetts

    We filed for protection, not to shut down. More soon.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  22. oldbean

    oldbean Initiate (0) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    They never should have ditched the old labels.
    ichorNet likes this.
  23. angelosk

    angelosk Disciple (349) Sep 20, 2014 Massachusetts

    I am also guessing that the Boston craft beer market is getting saturated with choices. The taproom model brings in revenue but ever since biergartens started popping up I haven’t been to a taproom in Boston. I’d rather be outdoors when the weather is nice. Seems this trend has filled Night Shift’s pockets at the expense of others, who actually make better beer (not coffee or seltzer...). :slight_frown: I haven’t been to Mystic in over 5 months because I assumed they were doing well. But now I feel bad that my favorite taproom will no longer be there... Key learning: support your favorite local businesses or they may not be there for you.

    In any case THANK YOU to Bryan and all the Mystic staff for great beer and experiences at your taproom. I will try to stop by next week before it’s too late.
    #23 angelosk, Sep 28, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
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  24. Chlodwig23

    Chlodwig23 Initiate (0) May 14, 2009 Massachusetts

    Which old labels? There were 4 generations of labels :-)

    I'll comment some more tomorrow. In terms of speculating what went wrong it's really circumstantial. It has little to do with our beer or brand. It's more about a situation in which there are really no more options to continue what we are doing out of the current site.

    ichorNet, Pahn, Gushue3 and 9 others like this.
  25. rudzud

    rudzud Initiate (0) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts

    Take your brewing talent and ideas to Central Mass instead; brewing with the backdrop of the Wachusett Reservoir and the Old Stone Church. Plus, none of those coastal mass traffic jams! Think of the possibilities...seriously...this state, and areas of distro, are going to miss your Belgians.
  26. rudzud

    rudzud Initiate (0) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts

    Extrava's beers are the liquid equivalent of playing a game against someone who's using cheat codes. It's just unfair how good they are. And the aesthetics of the place, both drinking area and brew system wise, is just as incredible as their beer. No word of a lie, if they were located 45 minutes or so further south I'd drive there multiple times a month.
    hopley and matthewp like this.
  27. Chlodwig23

    Chlodwig23 Initiate (0) May 14, 2009 Massachusetts

    In response to the overwhelming outpouring of emotion due to our announcement, I want to address the question of why we are closing. Mystic isn’t in arrears on any of the things that typically shuts down a business like rent, taxes, or payroll. All those are current. We are actually up 35% in wholesale sales this year. There has been a dramatic change in tap room volume due to accessibility (it’s been very tough getting to the tap room), possibly consumer spending, inexplicably reduced social media reach, and a fragmenting of the market. We have made numerous attempts to come up with a plan that allows us to better get our products to people who want them. However, due to our particular complex set of agreements, contracts, laws, and leases we cannot find a reasonable path forward. It's not just about money, it's that we can’t figure out how to make the current facility work. We are simply exhausted in managing our cash flow to the point where we can’t make the capital investments that would allow us to continue on our mission to build beer culture in the food world, in Boston, and beyond.

    To address intentions: We are shutting down the brand and tap room but the fate of the facility is not yet determined. Cambridge Brewing is still utilizing the site and we would be open to someone taking over the site for their own project. Mystic however will not continue there. Otherwise we will be selling the square fermenters, equipment and storied brewhouse that produced some of the very first NEIPAs at its former home at HF, as well as our saisons, and Cambridge Brewing’s bottling project that for the first time packaged beers from America’s first barrel program.

    As to speculation, IPAs didn't kill us, Milkshake IPAs didn’t kill us, though consumer demand is possibly being affected by products we don’t make like legal marijuana and hard seltzer. There is no such thing as craft seltzer so there’s no interest here in "pivoting" towards such products.

    In the end we’ve done what we set out to do. It just time to call it a day. I want to focus on other projects, like the Von Lune side project as well as other writing and educational efforts. Von Lune is a separate entity and will go on as long as I can find a place to hands-on brew it. I actually agree that ideally we should have just stayed focused on saison, but in retrospect, that’s just not a project suited to be located in the middle of a major city.

    Thanks to all of you for the interesting discussions over the years on the forum and to Todd and Jason for helping create a world in which crazy beer ideas like native yeast fermentation, square fermenters, and american saison could see the light of day. It was fun.


    #27 Chlodwig23, Sep 28, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
  28. lic217

    lic217 Savant (924) Aug 10, 2010 Connecticut

    Long live table beer!
  29. matthewp

    matthewp Aspirant (234) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    If we buy more Von Lune is there a chance you'll find a way to brew saisons again :slight_smile:

    If that's the case then I'm running out right now. Entropy would be a bonus as well.
    bostonwolf, rudzud and SABERG like this.
  30. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Zealot (599) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Was wondering if the bridge construction had any impacted traffic at the brewery. I used to stop in to Mystic on my way back from NH for work once a month and the traffic/construction has been so frustrating and unpredictable that I started taking other routes or just driving straight through. Not that my two beers once a month would’ve made a difference, but I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one. Sucks to lose you guys, one of the last low key taprooms in the area.
    meefmoff and SABERG like this.
  31. Kraftastic

    Kraftastic Zealot (522) Jan 27, 2009 Massachusetts
    Fest Crew Society

    I have so many amazing memories at this space. You guys were one of the first locals I fell in love with.

    Thanks man
    SABERG likes this.
  32. braineater

    braineater Initiate (41) Dec 24, 2005 Massachusetts

    RIP Table Beer :sob:
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  33. gclaw4444

    gclaw4444 Initiate (84) Jul 30, 2015 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    I’ve driven to Mystic like twice, and each time I’ve hated it and the traffic has been horrible, and most of the stuff that makes it to stores are their milkshake ipas. I will miss their wheatwine which I think they only brewed once. It was so good, like drinking an alcoholic cloud.
    SABERG likes this.
  34. redbill

    redbill Initiate (24) Nov 29, 2018 Massachusetts

  35. brewme

    brewme Meyvn (1,405) Mar 1, 2014 Massachusetts

  36. oldbean

    oldbean Initiate (0) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    These old guys:


    I supposed they had to go, what with large format bottles being federally illegal now.

    I too will miss Table Beer. Glad to hear Von Lune is ongoing, though.
    AlcahueteJ and bostonwolf like this.
  37. ppponte

    ppponte Initiate (24) Feb 1, 2010 Massachusetts

    Just to play devils advocate..... if you were working 80 hour weeks since 2013 and perhaps although volume was up the numbers were trending down...... easy decision. Get a day job and do von lune as a passion project that might earn some money too. Especially if breaking contracts/leases was going to cripple you. Sometimes these are just business decisions. I have a lot of respect for brewers/owners, especially when they don’t take on capital infusions from the private sector. What an absolute grind. You can’t afford to move, produce more and make strategic partnerships so you are trapped in a box. It’s not giving up moving on, in fact it’s the smart business decision. The most valuable commodity anyone has is time. It’s finite and not promised.
    Congrats on a job well done, you can share stories and memories a lot of home brewers will give a limb for
  38. MKozaka

    MKozaka Disciple (318) Apr 25, 2006 Connecticut

    Nice post overall, with this highlighted.
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  39. matthewp

    matthewp Aspirant (234) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    The last post was 2 months ago and if that's the bar you are going to use then pretty much every brewery outside of about 5 don't have much of a future. Most breweries don't even have a thread.
    AlcahueteJ, Rysk22 and jbertsch like this.
  40. matthewp

    matthewp Aspirant (234) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

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