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Aug 17, 2007 01:07 PM

Boston BrewPub/Restaurant Request?

I am in the Boston area next week for work and would like to know if there are any strong recommendations for any pubs/restaurants/brewpubs/etc where I can get a good local beer on tap and some good quality food. Willing to go to a "dive" or more of an "upscale", not tied to any type of place.

Two requests:
1. very good selection/variety of brews on tap
2. decent seafood (bonus would be cooking done with the beer)

I am staying in Newton but am more than open to travel into Boston or one of the other burbs. Two places that seemed intriguing based on the show Beer Nutz are Beer Works outside of Fenway and the Publick House. I know that it is a great beer city and area and I dont want to miss out on an opportunity for a great meal.

Thanks a lot.

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  1. The Publick House is my favorite, a wide variety of domestic and imported/Belgian beers. The atmosphere is very good, they cook with beer (try the seafood Waterzooi), but they don't brew beer themselves. It's in Brookline which is right next to Newton.

    Another favorite is Bukowski's, located in Cambridge and Back Bay, they have a very good selection of domestics and imports and decent inexpensive food. The Back Bay location is my favorite and sort of faux-dive, convenient to the T, no seafood, but the Summer Shack next door has it all.

    Cambridge Brewing Company isn't as close to Newton or to a T but I really like their beers, the food is typical pub food. There are two Beerworks, one at Fenway (mobbed if there's Red Sox game on) and one at North Station, their beers and food are ok. Sunset Grill and Tap in Alson has a great selection of beers and similar food, it also can get busy. There's also a John Harvards at Harvard Square which is convenient and has ok beers. I wouldn't look for seafood at any of these.

    1. steinpilz's suggestions are right on, I second TPH as beer bar and Cambridge Brewing for brewpub.

      Here is a link to a site with several reviews of all of the places mentioned (and some others) that may prove useful to you in planning your visit.


      1. Hm, well. Perhaps others have better rec's, but here's what I know.

        Cambridge Brewing Company has outstanding house-brewed beer -- really, I think, the best local brew available -- but I no longer like to eat there, though the atmosphere is great. It used to be decently priced, pretty tasty fare, but in the last year or so their menu has made me more and more irritated, as the prices skyrocket, the menu gets prettified and fancied up, but the quality of the food remains stagnant. Also, I wouldn't go there for seafood *EXCEPT* for the night of their annual bass fest, which was in late July.

        Boston Beer Works. I know lots of folks love it, but I'm not really enamoured of their brews. They're fine, totally unobjectionable, but nothing really unique or, in my opinon, worth traveling for. The food is mostly standard bar fare, but the place is huge, and on game nights, for the love of all things holy don't try to get in. It turns into a giant mess.

        John Harvard's has very good beer, and decent food. I like CBC's beer better, but if I'm after local brews and dinner, this is my choice. That said, the menu doesn't thrill me, and they tend to try to be too many things to too many people.

        Now, what I'd really recommend to you is to hit the Publick House, which has really outstanding (though not local) beers -- mostly Beligian -- as well as a groovin atmosphere and outstanding food. I'm not sure you could classify it as a gastropub (though. oddly, Stuff @ Night recently did), but it's in that general vein. The chef is terrific at cooking with their beers -- that's the theme of the menu -- and there are a lot of food options for all kinds of appetites and tastes (including veg). Their moules are, as to be expected of a Belgian place, very good, and come in a variety of sauces. The fish and chips is also great, one of my fave preps in Boston.

        2 Replies
        1. re: litchick

          steinpilz: yes, of course, Bukowski. I can't believe I forgot it from my list. Yankeefan, steinpilz is right on that front -- it's got an enormous selection of beers, and some nicely executed bar grub. If you get there before 8p on a weekday, you can take advantage of their $1.69 burger (get it made of turkey or tuna for an extra $1, add fries for another $1). That's the kind of deal that relieves a bit of the guilt at splurging $14 for an unusual imported beer.

          1. re: litchick

            Boston Beer Works isn't what it used to be. Back in the early-to-mid 90s their beers (IPA, oatmeal stout, imperia stout, Hercules Strong Ale, and something they called Victory Alt) were terrific. But I was seriously disappointed by the beers on all of my recent visits. The oatmeal stout, in particular, has been dumbed down. I've frankly given up on the place.

            I'd agree that Cambridge Brewing does the best local microbrews. Their regular beers (a pale ale, an amber ale, and a porter) are solid; and some of their specials (I've had a very German-tasting hefeweizen, an interesting "Colonial Ale," and -- best of all -- an imperial stout) have been remarkable.

          2. If you want a good "local" beer, then you don't want these places. Publick House specializes in Belgian beers of very high quality. (And they have a lot!) It's a terrific place for a beer drinker with pretty reasonable food but the beer is not local by any means.

            6 Replies
            1. re: lergnom

              lergnom: agreed, but if you can name me a place in Boston that has primarily local brews and excellent food, I wanna hear it. My point to the OP was that you kinda get an either/or around these parts. (Now in New Hampshire, or Vermont, that's another story...)

              1. re: litchick

                Well said. Other than the previously mentioned brewpubs (where beer is brewed on premise), the only local brewery is Harpoon, and their beers are widely available around town including many good beer bars and fine dining spots. Cambridge Brewing sells to a handful of off premise accounts, other than that Watchusett (rare in Boston on tap) and Berkshire (western MA) are other MA brewed products to look for. Further out, Smuttynose of NH and Allagash of ME are also top notch options.

                1. re: PaulB

                  If we're going to get into breweries (as opposed to brewpubs), Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, MA., has to be mentioned. Their Ispwich beers are, I contend, the best in New England. Their oatmeal stout in particular is outrageously rich and tasty.

                  The brewery itself isn't available to the public, but any beer-lover who visits MA. should try Mercury's Ipswich line of ales.

                  1. re: Kenji

                    Agreed, Ipswich/Mercury makes good beer and belongs on the look for list. I usually see it at Bukowski's and Redbones.

                    1. re: Kenji

                      Finally tried the Ipswich oatmeal stout after your raving about it on a previous Redbones thread. Thought it was pretty good, but would turn to a few other stouts (St. Peter's in the funky bottles, Rogue's special edition imperial stout and Shakespeare stout) for more interesting and complicated depth of flavor.

                      1. re: Dr.Jimbob

                        Thanks for trying Ipswich Oatmeal. I'm familiar with each of the stouts you name; I like them all (Rogue's Shakspeare was my favorite stout in that gravity range [6 - 7% ABV] for years), but I find Ipswich richer, earthier, hoppier, etc. St. Peter's struck me as drinkable but on the tame side.

                        Rogue's imperial stout is good -- but that's a different style of stout. I'd only pit it against similarly strong stouts -- such as Bell's Expedition, Smuttynose Imperial Stout, maybe Weyerbacher Old Heathen, et cetera.

              2. Cambridge Brewing Company has terrific beer and I think the food is decent, but I am always focused on the beer when I am there. Nice outdoor seating area on a nice day.