On a prominent smokestack near Bismark and Germania Streets read the words “FENREFFER BREWERY.” The smokestack is a bit shorter than it was home to Rudolph Haffenreffer’s brewery, one of 35 breweries the dotted the Stony Brook valley in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Haffenreffer was one of 6 local breweries to survive Prohibition, but it succumbed to competition from large commercial breweries in 1964.
In the 1980s, The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation adapted The Brewery Complex into the home of 50 local businesses. There’s Ula Cafe and the Bella Luna restaurant, bar, and night club. There are children’s music classes and dance studios. There’s a gym and Bikes Not Bombs. There are offices for community activists and capitalists alike.
And beer-making continues at Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams Brewery. While most Samuel Adams beer is contract brewed elsewhere, all new test batches are brewed here, and some local watering holes get fresh Jamaica Plain brews, including nearby Doyle’s Cafe. Thousands of people take the tour each year making it the clear frontrunner in Jamaica Plain tourist destinations.
Post for “H” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
I’ve lived in metro-Boston for close to 17 years, 8 of those in Jamaica Plain, and I’d never taken the Samuel Adams Brewery Tour. I decided to address this omission on a recent Friday when I’d taken a day off from work. I don’t know what the brewery is like in the high season, but on a random Friday afternoon in snow-encrusted Boston, there were still more than 30 people in my tour group.
Those in the know that while Samuel Adams is advertised as a Boston beer, the majority of the beer is brewed at contract breweries out-of-state. The Jamaica Plain facility is primarily a research and development facility with small batches brewed for local clients (such as Doyle’s Cafe). Thus the brewery is pretty small and the tour rather short in distance. Our guide offered a wealth of knowledge on the brewing process, passing around hops to rub into our hands and samples of malts to chew on. We also saw the big tanks that the beer goes through in the brewing process.
Not much happening there, so we went to a tasting room to sample some fresh Samuel Adams beers. The beers on tap included the flagship Boston Lager, Cold Snap white ale, and Chocolate Bock. After generous samples, we were invited to visit the gift shop where more beer was on sale, including unique brews not available elsewhere. I will have to not wait so long for my next visit, or at least swing by the gift shop when looking for a special beer.
Entering beer nirvana.
A glimpse of wooden casks.
A basketful of hops.
The most action in the brewery was this man spraying foam under the tanks.
I don’t think this is how they put the head on the beer.
Beer is best enjoyed with a drinking buddy.
Related Posts (Samuel Adams beer reviews over time):
Beer: Boston 375 Colonial Ale Brewer: Boston Beer Company Source: Growler Rating: *** (7.5 of 10) Comments: On my recent tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery, I picked up a growler of this beer not widely available elsewhere. It is a cloudy, dark brown beer with a big, bubbly head. It has a sweet yeasty aroma with maybe a hint of orange. The flavor is of sweet cream and a nutty smoked taste with a medium mouthful. The head dissipates quickly and leaves behind no lacing. This is a tasty beer and one that does Boston proud.
Beer: Samuel Adams Rebel IPA Brewer: Boston Beer Company Source: Draft Rating: ** (6.6 of 10) Comments: Rebel IPA is amber-colored with a good-looking head, but not much visible carbonation. The aroma is piney, and the flavor offers spicy grapefruit with an apricot aftertaste and a medium mouthfeel. The beer leaves lovely lacing on the glass. I’m not a fan of overly hoppy beers, and there seems to be an arms race to make the most bitter beer these days, but Samuel Adams has done a great job of extracting the best from the hops in this nicely balanced beer.
Beer: Samuel Adams Grumpy Monk Brewer: Boston Beer Company Source: Rating: ** (6.1 of 10) Comments: Sampled on tap at Doyle’s Cafe in Jamaica Plain, probably the best location to try fresh, new Samuel Adams’ beers. There was a thin head on the beer which had a copper tone. The aroma is very mild, maybe some yeast and banana scents. The flavor is a balance of hops and malts, but not consistent. I like it better at first when I could taste the hops, but they weren’t overpowering in their bitterness. The finish is bready with a mouth feel that is too thick and sticky for my tastes. I couldn’t figure out what this beer wanted to be, but it was all right for a change of pace.
Beer: Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout Brewer: Boston Beer Company Source: Draft Rating: ** (6.8 of 10) Comments: In a small tulip-glass, this beer pours out inky black with a tan finger-width head. The aroma is suitably Christmas-y with bread, ginger, and cinnamon. The flavor is full of spice and rich sweetness. The alcohol content is high so it left me buzzing. An interesting treat for the holidays but not an everyday beer.
Beer: Samuel Adams Cinder Bock Brewer: Boston Beer Company Source: 22 oz. bottle Rating: *** (7.2 of 10) Comments: The image of the goat on the label is wholly apropos as this beer has a kick. “It smells and tastes like bacon!” I exclaimed to my friend Craig. As a vegetarian, I’m not all that impressed by bacon, but I did enjoy the smokey flavor for a change of pace. The beer mellows in the glass and there is a sweeter caramel toffee flavor as it goes down. It also packs a wallop with a high ABV. Definitely something a beer adventurer should experience at least once.