By Eric Wilbur
For many, it's not just about the beer, but how the beer got there. Those interested in the brewing process of local craft brews can learn more about select breweries in Massachusetts through tours and tastings. Here are eight that are not to be missed.
30 Germania St.
No surprise that one of Boston’s most famous beers boats one of the area’s most popular brewery tours. The one-hour tours depart every 45 minutes and carry a suggested donation of just $2. During the tour, you’ll taste malts, smell hops, then have the opportunity to sample a few different styles of Sam Adams beer. The tours run Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Fridays, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The brewery encourages all to avoid waits by arriving earlier in the day, and points out that Saturdays can reach capacity by noon.
306 Northern Ave.
Weekend tours of this South End institution often sell out, so it’s advised to arrive early. The tours start every half-hour and run from 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays. The cost is $5 and includes a souvenir glass, beer tasting, and a donation to Harpoon Helps, the brewery’s foundation to help local charities. Harpoon does also offer tastings during the week at 2 and 4 p.m. The narrated tasting lasts about an hour and is free.
1020 Turnpike St., #3B
Blue Hills Brewery is a craft brewer quickly growing in popularity for offerings such as Black Hops (a black IPA) and Watermelon What. The Canton brewery, in the shadow of Blue Hills, offers tastings every Friday from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 2-6 p.m.
175 State Road East
Wachusett offers two different ways to tour its brewery. The full brewery tour is on Saturdays only, and lasts about 45 minutes, followed by a pair of two-ounce samples. The tours run from Noon-5 p.m. The brewery also offers condensed versions of the tour every other day. The schedule is Wednesday and Thursday, Noon-4 p.m., and Friday, Noon-5 p.m.
1336 Phinney's Lane
Even on days when the staff isn’t giving tours, the public is welcome to visit the Hyannis brewery and poke around by themselves. However, if you want to learn about what makes things tick, Cape Cod Beer offers guided tours Tuesdays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m. The tour lasts about 45 minutes. Both self-guided and guided participants can taste a sample of each of the brewery’s offerings currently on tap.
12 Resnik Rd
This Plymouth brewery – which makes a fine winter oatmeal stout – offers tours and tastings of all its current offerings Thursdays and Fridays, 4:30-6:30 p.m., and Saturdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Customers can purchase fresh cases of beer at the brewery, as well as take a growler home with them.
12 Rail Rd. St.
It’s a bit of a hike from Boston, but worth it. The BBC, located in Western Mass. does weekly tours of its brewery Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m. There is no charge for the tour, which is followed by a tasting of some of the brewery’s offerings. The Lost Sailor IPA is a favorite.
108 Cabot St.
Paper City, in existence since 1995, is a local brewery that has seen tremendous growth the past few years with a wider distribution of its product. To check out where it’s made though, head to Holyoke, where the brewery holds open houses, Thursdays and Fridays from 6-8 p.m.