Drinking Holes

Drinking Beer in Boston... an Express Tour

Jeremy Short · March 31


With a little time left over from a business trip, I squeezed in a quick tour of the Boston beer scene. Limited by time, and also transportation, I knew that I wouldn't get the best beer tour, but, hey, I had to give it a try. With six hours there is a lot one can accomplish (especially with a powerful thirst for beer). The other restriction in my beer journey: weather. I visited the last week of February and snow was still stacked several feet high at each street corner. Walking around (my main mode of transportation) was a complete pain in the ass. Just look at that Volvo I found on Beacon Hill. The snow almost beat me, but I persevered and began my journey.

The first stop on my express trip: Tip Tap. This hip gastro-pub carries a strong list of beers. But it was here that I discovered my first surprise about the Boston beer scene... West Coast beers. Here I am sitting at the bar and beers from California and Colorado seem to dominate many of the handles. I get plenty of West Coast beers back home, so this left me a little disappointed. I pushed ahead regardless and found a couple local brews to enjoy with my Cubano sandwich. The food was solid, but I've had a few better Cubanos. I should have got the lobster bisque. Damn, I really regret that choice. Oh, well.

Another thing that struck me about the Boston beer scene that I came to realize while at Tip Tap: cost. Beer is not cheap in Boston, outside of the exception of John Harvard Brewery, all of the beers I had were at least $7.00 and I stuck with the lower ABV beers in general. It made me realize how spoiled we are in Colorado with our great selection and at fairly reasonable prices.

After Tip Tap it was across the Charles River to Cambridge on the red line. I jumped off at Harvard Square and made a long bone chilling walk to Lord Hobo's which is near East Cambridge. This highly regarded beer bar has a great exterior, and a great name. It was a Sunday morning and the staff seemed to be recovering from a long shift the night before. Honestly, they seemed annoyed to have a customer. As I sat there for a while the staff grew more and more pleasant and friendly. I found this true at each location I went to in Boston. People seemed to be standoffish at first, cold even, and as time went on they would become increasingly friendly. I haven't visited Boston before, so I am not sure if this is actually reflective of what it is like in and around Boston the rest of the year or just my random experience. Either way, I had to try the cheddar grits, which came in in fried balls. Outstanding! My mouth is watering from the memory, And a nice black IPA from Founders to wash it down. There's a beer I can't find in Colorado! I wasn't terribly hungry, so I only enjoyed the grits, but the menu looked tasty and I have a feeling that food alone would be worth a visit.

I also enjoyed Star Trek V on one of their TVs as I drank and ate. Leonard Nemoy had died the day before, and it was good to see him, even if I didn't have enough time to enjoy the whole film. I am a Trekkie at heart and hearing that Spock had moved into the Undiscovered Country was sad news. It was heartening to see him on the television. Live long and prosper, man.

Ok, I am still on my feet, and need to check out somewhere else. I head over to John Harvard’s Brewery which isn't far from the subway stop. The place is fairly busy for a Sunday morning and several people are enjoying watching Chelsea win some sort of trophy or another.  One day I will understand all the shit you can win as an EPL team. Right now, I have no idea. I order their Imperial IPA. That’s something I understand. Not a great beer. Fairly vegetal and a bit of DMS. The off-flavors weren't enough for me to kick it back, but it was enough to convince me to move on to my next location. I am sure their other beers are much better, and it wouldn't be fair to judge it off my single experience.

With only a few hours left before my flight back home I head back on the subway to Boston Commons and then walk over to Stoddard’s. This bar has a beautiful wood bar with clean sharp taps lines that front counter. A well blanked beer list and friendly staff made this my favorite stop almost immediately. I didn't get to try any food here, but the menu looked tasty as well. The beers looked better. And so I tried a few, talked to people at the bar, and ran off to the airport just in time for them to delay my flight by a couple hours. To think I could have still been enjoying a beer at Stoddard’s! So it goes. Of all the places this is the one I will ensure I find my way back to.

The next time I am in Boston, there are several other locations I would love to check out, but I would happily return to any of the one mentioned here.


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