Brewery Hopping: Discovering the South Shore’s Craft Beer Scene

There’s never been a better time to be a craft beer fan on the South Shore.

By Chris Reagle | Photography by Kjeld Mahoney

The number of South Shore breweries has exploded in the last few years and it has created a culture of beer connoisseurs who enjoy spending their weekends touring behind the scenes and sipping limited-edition brews in cozy taprooms.

Here’s a look at a few local breweries worth checking out, plus a few that are right on the verge of making it big.

Tip: The Massachusetts Brewers Guild recently launched a beer trail app that makes it easy to discover new breweries and keep track of the ones you have visited. The free app, called “Mass Craft Beer,” is available on iTunes and Google Play.

Widowmaker Brewing Company

220 Wood Road, Braintree; 781-849-0205

Owners: Ryan Lavery, Colin Foley, and Bud Lazaro

Date Established: September, 2017

Taproom: In addition to the 8,000-square-foot production facility there is a 1,500-square-foot taproom with seating for 91 people.

Food Offered: Food truck fare is available most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The brewery also provides free Cheez-Its, Goldfish and pretzels to patrons inside the taproom.

Signature Brews: Favorites include 50-Year Storm, a double IPA with New England IPA characteristics made with Galaxy hops from Australia, Donut Shop Coffee Stout, made with cold-brew coffee from Red Eye Roasters in Hingham and Ecstasy of Gold IPA, a big juicy IPA with a subtle malt.

The Buzz: The brewery just finished their first expansion, adding four new 15-barrel tanks. New beers include a Juniper Ale and a Milkshake IPA, which will be a second release (the first time they produced the Milkshake IPA it sold out in one weekend). They also recently signed on with Night Shift Distributing (they were previously self-distributed) to extend their distribution area.

Second Wind Brewing Company

7 Howland St., Plymouth; 508-591-5915

Owners: Kenny Semcken, Hans TerBush, and Steven “J.R.” Shepard

Date Established: September, 2016

Taproom: They unveiled their brand-new taproom this month, which is currently open Thursday-Sunday (they plan to expand opening hours in the summer).* Second Wind Brewing also serves 15 restaurant accounts and three package stores in Plymouth and Kingston.

Signature Brews: Second Wind is brewing new beers every week. They have a rotating IPA series called Winds of Change and periodically change the recipe and gather feedback on how the public responds. Their C.R.E.A.M. ale is a new style of beer called a milkshake IPA. “It’s an IPA that has lactose sugar in it, vanilla and other fruit,” says Semcken. “It creates a much softer IPA.”

The Buzz: This downtown brewery is hyper focused on the local community and hopes to help Plymouth become a hub for craft beverage tourism. With four breweries, two wineries and a distillery in town, they’re well on their way.

*This article previously stated that Second Wind Brewing Company had no taproom, as the taproom was not open at the time of publication.

Vitamin Sea Brewing

Photo by Devin Schneiderbauer

Founded in Hull, this local brew team is poised to make big changes this year. Known for their masterful branding and marketing, you’d never know they’ve been brewing in a basement because their products are so polished. “People are amazed when they see what we’re doing when they walk through the cellar door,” says founder and head brewer Dino Funari. “It’s not what they expect. We have the same equipment and processes that the big guys have but on a smaller scale. We made the decision early on to treat this like it was something bigger than what it was in the hopes of what it could become.” They collaborated on a beer with Widowmaker in Braintree. Currently, they’re in the middle of licensing and relocated to a new space in Weymouth (in the same industrial park as their friends at Barrel House Z) and are targeting opening their brewery in early fall.

Burke’s Alewerks

200 Webster Street, Hanover; 781-312-8207

Owner: Brian Burke

Date Established: March, 2018

Taproom: This newly opened taproom can seat 50.

Food offered: Customers are encouraged to bring their own food or order takeout. Burke plans to partner with a local caterer soon so he can have some meat and cheese plates, salsa and chips and light sandwiches.

Signature Brews: The focus at Burke’s is on traditional European ales and the selection changes. “The ales I’m selling are drinkable,” says Burke. “With craft beer there’s this focus on extreme beers, stronger ABV, hoppy beer, and sour beers. Really what I’m looking to do is just to have a place where you can come to have a few pints of drinkable beers.”

Independent Fermentations Brewing (IndieFerm)

127 Camelot Drive, Plymouth; 508-746-4634

Owners: Paul Nixon and Rose Forbes

Date Established: December, 2013

Taproom: Located in an industrial park in Plymouth, this brewery’s 400-square-foot tap room has 30 seats and a rotation of eight drafts on tap.

Food Offered: Guests can munch on pretzels and sliced breads from Hearth Artisan Bread, located just a few doors down. There’s also pizza on Friday and Maggie’s Pierogis on Saturdays.

Signature Brews: Favorites are Honey Tripel, a Flemish-style beer brewed with almost all Massachusetts ingredients, Boat for Sale Pale Ale, which has a uniquely mango citrus flavor and Plymouth Rocks IPA, a juicy modern IPA that the brewery does in collaboration with Plymouth Rocks events which helps raise money for a local initiative to fund school music programs. The brewery also produces Black Feather Porter, which helps raise money for the mission of Black Feather Horse Rescue in Plymouth.

The Buzz: This summer, the brewery plans to brew a Berlinerweisse, a tart/sour German wheat beer made with fruit syrups. The brewery itself is slated to move into a much larger space at Cordage Park in Plymouth sometime this summer. The new space will offer a 200-seat taproom, a homebrew shop and capability for brewing onsite.

10th District Brewing Company

491 Washington St., Abington

Owners: Dana George and Patrick Eddy

Date Established: August, 2015

Taproom: This nano brewery is located on a bustling street corner. Operating out of a 1,100-square-foot space, customers can belly up to the bar and get a clear view of the brewing action.

Food Offered: There are pretzels to snack on and local food truck vendors are available curbside during most hours of operation.

Signature Brews: 10th District IPA and American Pale Ale are the staples. Seasonal brews, such as Pumpkin Ale (fall) and Watermelon Wheat (summer) are also big sellers. “We do a wide variety of (beer) styles, but if I had to pick one now, it would have to be the Gose. You typically don’t see nano breweries doing that style. There’s a lot that goes into it – coriander, orange peel, lemon peel and we put fresh cranberries in during fermentation,” says George. “It’s an old German beer and its backbone, believe it or not, is sea salt. It’s a mildly sour beer, but quite drinkable.

The Buzz: The brewers are aggressively searching for a bigger space in order to increase their capacity and keep up with demand for their beers.

Untold Brewing

6 Old Country Way, Scituate; 781-378-0559

Owners: Matt Elder, Kristin Greene and Kyle Hansen

Date Established: October, 2017

Taproom: Untold Brewing has 12 tap lines that feature a few signature beers as well as a rotation of seasonal options. Guests can sip their beers while sitting at long farm tables in an adjacent renovated 19th century schoolhouse or take them outside to the patio.

Food Offered: While there is no food prepared onsite, guests are welcome to have takeout or delivery when at the taproom and local food trucks park outside on most weekends. Fiamma Bela Pizza will be onsite on May 6.

Signature Brews: Their flagship brew is East by Northwest, a piney, Northwest-style beer. Some of the other local favorites include Rebecca brown ale and Abigail blonde ale, named after Scituate’s famous “army of two” whose courage and musical dexterity helped deter the British ships from coming ashore during the War of 1812.

The Buzz: The brewery is big on local collaborations, whether it be brewing beer with coffee from Scituate’s Lucky Finn or hosting charitable brewery tours for local nonprofits like the North and South Rivers Watershed Association.

Barrel House Z

95 Woodrock Road, Weymouth; 339-201-7888

Owner: Russ Heissner

Date Established: June, 2016

Taproom: Wood barrel staves flank the walls at Barrel House Z taproom.
The brewery’s taproom seats 50 inside and a seasonal outdoor patio doubles
their capacity.

Food Offered: Warm pretzel sticks and “macanadas,” an empanada dough filled with flavored macaroni and cheese, are staples in the taproom. Food trucks roll up on Fridays and Saturdays.

Signature Brews: The brewery offers beers that you can only get in their tap room and some bottled and canned beers that you can only get in restaurants or package stores. They offer brews from a rotating roster of brewers. “We have eight beers we call ‘Pilot Pours,’” says Mary Heissner, who does marketing for her husband’s brewery. These smaller batch beers come out of their pilot plant as test batches. One of the brewery’s most popular beers is Sunny & 79°, a dry, spicy summery beer with a ginned pilsner that you would find in botanicals, such as juniper berry, lemon peel, coriander and cardamom. Other favorites include Townie, a strong, dry Irish ale, Bamboozeled by Hops, a citrusy IPA, and a big New England style hoppy double IPA with fruity flavor called BamBam.

The Buzz: Beginning in June, the Barrel House Z taproom will offer a sour German recipe beer called Berlinerweisse. On some evenings and for events, they open the brewing production floor to add to the experience of being in a brewery.

Article Fifteen Brewing

835 Washington St., Weymouth

At the time this article went to press, this new nano brewery was still in the build-out phase. Head brewer Leo Reardon is a local firefighter and a former Army combat medic and his wife is a paramedic. Reardon plans to open a full-service taproom this summer.

On tap will be his signature Mango Habanero IPA and possibly a Triple Chocolate Coffee Stout.

Plymouth Beer Co

10 Water St., Plymouth; 508-591-0589

Date Established: 2017

Head Brewer: Tom Frizelle

Taproom: Yes. From the people that brought you Dirty Water Distillery comes Plymouth’s newest craft beer destination.

Signature Brews: One of their newest beers is an IPA called Maggie, which is named for the hops used–Mandarina Bavaria, Azacca and Grungeist. This IPA packs in juicy citrus and tropical flavors framed within creamy malt body compliments of a large dose of oats. Other favorites include their Saison, Cranberry Wit and Water St. IPA.

Shakesbeer Beverages, LLC

160 Old Derby St., Suite 264, Hingham; 781-269-2690

Owner: Michael Sartor

Date Established: August, 2017

Taproom: No. “We don’t have a tasting facility there,’ Sartor said of his company’s Hingham address. “We do our production at another facility in Connecticut right now. We’re also partnering with Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, (Massachusetts) to do some of it. If anyone drove to our Old Derby Street address (in Hingham) they’d find just a plain old office without much going on.” Shakesbeer brews are distributed to South Shore beer and package stores via L. Knife Distributors.

Signature Beers: Inspired by works of William Shakespeare, the flagship brews are an IPA titled Act 1 and a double IPA called The Tempest. “Act 1 is the embodiment of easy drinking New England-style IPA,” says Sartor. “The Tempest is kind of a bigger beer in terms of alcohol content and hop profile.”

The Buzz: The next beer to launch will be a seasonal brew called A Mid Summer’s Night Dream and they hope to launch a third year-round beer in late August (of 2018). In terms of the business itself, the team is actively looking at spaces and hope to open a brewery and tap room in Hingham sometime in 2019.

Mayflower Brewing

12 Resnik Road, Plymouth; 508-746-2674

Date Established: 2007

Owner: Drew Brosseau

Taproom: Founded in 2007 by a tenth great grandson of John Alden, beer barrel cooper on board the Mayflower, we are dedicated to celebrating the history and legacy of the Pilgrims by creating unique, high-quality ales for the New England market. The brewery includes a 9,000-square-foot production facility, where we brew and package all of our beer, as well as our tasting room and retail store.

Food Offered: Look for local food trucks like No Joke Smoke BBQ and chef Stephen Coe’s Swat Food Truck
Signature Brews: The core lineup of year-round beers honors classic English ales. New World IPA, a crisp and dry Golden Ale, a hoppy American session ale with mild bitterness called Daily Ration. Popular seasonal brews include Fresh Start, which combines tropical fruit aromas of Citra and Mosaic hops and a bit of spice and a Summer Belgian Session Ale, brewed with pilsner, rye, and wheat malts.

The Buzz: These guys just celebrated their 10-year anniversary and are always hosting fun events at the brewery, from yoga classes and fundraisers for local animal rescue organizations to live bands.



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