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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Boston’s Craft Beer Revolution

May 30, 2013 6:00 AM

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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Between the beer bars and the new breweries cropping up in the city and surrounding suburbs seemingly every week, Boston’s craft beer revolution is cranking. But for many beer drinkers (especially anyone in their 30s, 40s and older), the novelty of local beer wasn’t something that was always around. After prohibition, local breweries had a tough time sticking around until the beginnings of a revolution took root in the mid-1980s. Here are five things you didn’t know about Boston’s craft beer revolution.
(Photo from Sam Adams/Facebook)

(Photo from Sam Adams/Facebook)

1. The First Brew
Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch dug an old family beer recipe out of his parents’ attic and brewed the first batch in his kitchen in 1984. He teamed up with Harry Rubin and Lorenzo Lamadrid to found Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and debuted it in Boston on Patriot’s Day in 1985. Six weeks later, Samuel Adams won “The Best Beer in America” award in The Great American Beer Festival’s Consumer Preference Poll.

(Photo from Harpoon)

(Photo from Harpoon)

2. The First Permit

In 1986, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts granted Harpoon Brewery “Brewing Permit #001.” At the time, brewery founders Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary, college buddies at Harvard, were displeased with the fact that the local beer offerings paled in comparison to the choices they had while traveling in Europe. So, they teamed up with George Ligetti, hired a brewer, and started the first brewery to commercially brew and bottle beer in Boston in more than 25 years.

(Photo from Sam Adams/Facebook)

(Photo from Sam Adams/Facebook)


3. The First Tour

For a short time, while Jim Koch was renovating part of the old Haffenreffer Brewery, he set up shop out of state (shhh! Harpoon moved their bottling operation out for a short time, too). Sam Adams returned to Massachusetts in 1988. Koch was excited when eight people showed up for the first brewery tour. Since the first tour, the brewery says over 300,000 people have made their ways through the brewery.

(Photo from Harpoon)

(Photo from Harpoon)

4. The First “Seasonal” Beer

In 1988, a growing Harpoon brewery rolled out New England’s first seasonal-brewed craft beer. It was the Winter Warmer, which is still widely popular. “Though at first people thought it was a little strange that we brewed a beer with spices in it – namely cinnamon and nutmeg – it quickly became a New England favorite and is our most anticipated seasonal,” the brewery’s website says.

Undated photo of Doyle's Cafe (Photo from Doyle's)

Undated photo of Doyle’s Cafe (Photo from Doyle’s)

5. The First “Beer Bar”

Doyle’s Café in Jamaica Plain dates back to 1882. The Irish watering hole – with its original bar in tact – apparently has an eye for good local beer. Doyle’s was the first bar in Boston to put both Sam Adams and Harpoon on draft.

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