Sunday, April 3, 2016

Framingham As a Craft Beer Destination

It's said that success begets success, and in Framingham's growing craft beer scene, that's becoming increasingly apparent.

First we had the meteoric success of Jack's Abby Craft Lagers put downtown on the map for craft beer fans all over eastern Massachusetts and beyond. Now, by summer, a second craft brewer, Exhibit 'A' Brewing, will be producing beer from the old Jack's Abby facility on Morton Street. Owner Matthew Steinberg, a veteran brewer, was quoted in Boston Magazine as saying that he plans to make Framingham a beer destination.

Add to that the two brewpubs in the Route 9 corridor, John Harvard's Brewhouse and Framingham Beer Works, plus, also on Route 9, a location of the regional beer bar chain British Beer Company, and you've got the biggest concentration of craft beer establishments between Boston and Worcester.

Travel & Leisure magazine lists Boston as number 16 on its list of the top 20 beer cities in the United States, and typically, nearby locations with good craft beer offerings get a fair amount of visitors as well. The state's Mass Grown web site, targeted at visitors seeking made in the Bay State agricultural products and culinary tours, includes Framingham's brewers on its craft brewers map.

There's also a Route 9 location for the Craft Beer Cellar, a retail store chain that offers about 650 craft brews for those who want to stock up for later consumption. Pubs and restaurants that are making downtown a culinary and entertainment destination, including the Deluxe Depot Diner, The Tavern, and Pho Dakao are also increasingly offering more (and particularly local) craft brews as well.

In total, we've got quite the critical mass of craft beer destinations within our town borders.

Truth be told, I knew we had turned a corner when I started meeting people in the Jack's Abby tap room a few years ago who had traveled from all over the Boston area as well as other states, to try and buy Jack's Abby beers. Like the guy from Weymouth standing in line with six empty growlers, who told me he and two friends took turns making a run to Framingham to get their growlers refilled. And then last fall, while eating dinner at the new Jack's Abby beer hall on Morton Street, a group of twenty-something hipsters from uber-cool Somerville told me they wished there was a Jack's Abby location in their city.

With the amount of business travelers the Framingham area gets during the week, I suspect there's a decent percentage of them who end up at one of our craft beer destinations after the work day ends, for an evening out for a few pints and dinner. And with the summer vacation season approaching, I'm betting there will be more than a few beer tourists adding Framingham to their itineraries as well.


Anonymous said...

I love going to Jack's except that they are only open till 9 on weeknights and Sunday! That is ridiculous! Then on weekends it is only 11pm! If Framingham wants to be a hub for the young professionals they need to have hours that suits a city's hours! The Board of Selectmen should grant the establishment later hours of operation!

Anonymous said...

True, how frigging provincial is that 9pm close? I hear a bunch of BS from town leaders about how they are going to make downtown a destination for young professionals. Ha, earth to troglodytes, young professionals are going to want to stay out past 9pm. On a more positive note, very excited to try the product from Exhibit A. Got my finger's crossed theue skills are on par with the Hendler bros. Truthfully though, I think many of your examples you list of Framingham's craft beer offerings are not representative of craft beer. John Harvards and Beer Works make crap beer (in most cases), BBC sells the same old same old mass produced swill. Craft Beer Cellars is awesome though, great selection and great friendly staff with a wealth of knowledge.

The Hamster said...

I don't know that the town wouldn't grant Jack's Abby later hours - maybe that's their choice for now, and they'll be expanding hours at some point. There are certainly other pouring establishments in town with later hours.

While I would agree that the other brewpubs in the Route 9 area are in a different sub-category, being multi-unit chains with offerings that appeal to broader tastes, they are still in the craft brew space, compared to places that only serve mega-brewer pale adjunct lagers. BBC does have a lot of mainstream semi-craft beers, but some good choices as well that you don't find in the average bar.

The one thing we probably totally agree on is the anticipation of trying what Matt from Exhibit 'A' will have to offer in a few months!

Glad you are pushing the craft beer agenda hard though - I've been preaching it for nearly as long as it's existed, and was in the industry for years. It's come a long way - I remember the Dark Ages of American brewing.

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