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.