Tap Into Boston's Beer Bars

From Sam Adams to Norm from Cheers and pretty much everyone in between, Boston is famous for its passionate beer lovers. No wonder, since, going back to 1634, the city has prided itself on being home to some of the country’s best brewpubs and beer bars. Even when Prohibition threatened a drought, Joseph Kennedy stepped in and kept the city wet and, in 1984, when most of the rest of the world was happy drinking the big brands, the city established the Boston Beer Company, a brewery that anticipated the craft beer movement in America. It’s still at the forefront of innovation and you can sample all the latest experimental beers and micro-brews at these fine craft beer bars.

Bukowski Tavern 

Just off Boylston, on the main floor of a big parking garage in Boston’s Back Bay, is one of the city’s better finds, a long, narrow bar with a singular devotion to really good beer. Just dive-y enough, the Bukowski Tavern is the kind of place people take to immediately, even if they’re not the type of person who immediately falls in love with any bar that has a “beer book” for a menu. Half-surly bartenders expertly wield around the tight bar to pull out bocks, IPAs, lambics, and smoked ales for craft beer geeks and curious novices alike. It’s almost always a packed scene, proving that even the fashionable end of Boston loves a little bit of down-to-earth grunge.  

50 Dalton Street, 617-437-9999

Lord Hobo

Possibly one of the country’s best beer bars, Lord Hobo is a little off the beaten path, located in Cambridge’s Inman Square. The good news about the location, however, is that the restaurants and bars around Inman square are some of the city’s best, favoured by local Bostonians who appreciate the eclectic mix of quality eateries at reasonable prices. With relatively plain and understated décor, this saloon is a beer drinker’s paradise, featuring a range of hard-to-find and esoteric sours, heavy IPAs, and Belgian strong ales. Small plates, sandwiches, cocktails, and wine are on offer, too, for those who need more than just beer to keep them perfectly happy. 

92 Hampshire Street, 617-250-8454

The Tap Trailhouse

A walk along Boston’s Freedom Trail – that includes the Paul Revere House, King’s Chapel, and Faneuil Hall – can be an exceptionally thirsty one. There are quite a few options for refreshments in the area, of course, but none so perfectly located, we reckon, as the Tap Trailhouse at Faneuil Marketplace. With its signature IPA, the Freedom Trail Ale, and over 20 other taps sporting pilsners, wheats, blondes, and porters, its slogan “the beers are coming” is no empty turn of phrase. Fairly heavy locally-sourced New England colonial-era fare is available to soak up the stout in this classic taproom.  

19 Union Street,  617-367-0033

Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale

Although there is a perfectly excellent cocktail program and first-rate gastropub to lure us in to Stoddard’s, the focus of this bar is definitely its ales, cask, and otherwise. Located in a mid-nineteenth century heritage building nearly adjacent to Boston Common, this charming space has been retrofitted with an astounding Victorian-era bar, tin ceilings, leather furniture, and tastefully-mounted, antique-looking corsets to honour the undergarment factory that was the original tenant of the building. With five cask engines, 20 draught lines, and 90 labels by the can, there’s a style at Stoddard’s to suit even the most finicky beer connoisseurs.   

48 Temple Place, 617-426-0048

The Publick House

With its unapologetic obsession with all things Belgium (but especially its beer), Washington Square’s Publick House offers some of the city’s most interesting imports and Belgian-style local brews in a warm, comfortable monastery-themed room. As we might expect, Western European-style frites with decadent mayonnaise and mustard-based sauces dominate the snack menu, but there’s also plenty of Belgian stews and meatballs to order up alongside the absolutely mind-boggling selection of Trappist ales, lambics, and strong, dark beers available by the bottle.  

1648 Beacon Street, 617-277-2880

Published Saturday, August 1st 2015

Header image credit: Courtesy Bukowski Tavern



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