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Secret Beer Bars of Boston: South End

Author // Jeff Wharton

If you’re like me then you’ve noticed that your desire to drink a great craft beer is outweighed by some of your friends’ desire to go somewhere other than one of your “weird beer bars.” Craft beer may be exploding in popularity, but we’re still far from the majority. The solution? Well, you could hit up some of Boston’s phenomenal cocktail bars. Or, you could just suck it up and get a meal somewhere without sipping on a great brew. But why would you when you don’t have to? As craft beer gets more popular, there are more and more places putting thought into their beer selection without being craft beer-focused establishments. Want to take your girlfriend out but she only wants sushi? Want to take your boyfriend somewhere but he’s looking for a great meal and wine? Want to take your folks somewhere, but not to a beer bar? We’ll be putting together a series of neighborhood specific “Secret Craft Beer Bars,” with the Sound End first. Following up, we’re looking at Kenmore/Fenway, Back Bay/Copley, Cambridge, Fort Point, Newton and more. Got suggestions? Let us know!

The Criteria For a Secret Beer Bar

A Secret Beer Bar is a place that doesn't focus on just beer, or super-heavily on beer. They don’t do beer events, their social media doesn’t focus much on it, and they’re not the traditional spots you’d expect great craft beer...like we said, they’re the secret beer bars of Boston. That said, having a generic craft beer list doesn’t count, either. These are the establishments that told their distributor, “give us the ‘craft beer’ package.” These lists have thought put into them; they’re well curated. They don’t have to be huge, just well done.


513 Tremont Street

I started coming to Picco years ago (back in 2006 or 2007) for the amazing pizza and the unparalleled homemade ice cream. Back then, they had only a few taps, but I was already impressed because they were some of the best curated handles I’d seen in Boston. Fast forward to 2013 and they’ve expanded to nearly 20 options on draft and many more in the bottle. Whether you’re a craft beer lover or not, you’re going to dig this place. The fish tacos in the summer are great, they always have amazing appetizers and rotate the menu seasonally with a variety of amazing options. But, if you really want my recommendation, wait until the heat wanes and then get a calzone with mozzarella, sausage and caramelized onions. My wife and I get it pretty much every time and it never gets old! That said, during warmer times of the year, they have a great patio and sitting on that patio is a real bonus. Also, make sure to leave room for dessert as their ice cream is some of the best in the Boston-area. The coffee ice cream is especially amazing! But, for real, this is an amazing place with a great vibe, an ever-expanding draft list and some of the most well chosen brews in town. Also they have good wine.

Picco Boston


1415 Washington Street

This is a new find for me and I actually ended up here for my wedding anniversary recently after grabbing appetizers and a drink leading up to the date. They have nearly ten taps, but Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, Pretty Things Jack D’Or and the like are your choices, so any true craft beer lover will be stoked. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, curation was key here. Beyond that, though, the food is amazing and the vibe it great. Given the assumptions about craft beer bars, you’d never think that this place would please, but it really does! Check out the eggplant, the roasted pearl onions with potatoes and pretty much all of the entrees. Pair it with a great pint and I was a happy camper. You will be too!

BoMa Boston

Seiyo Sushi

1721 Washington Street

Sushi. I love it. If you don’t, this is not the place for you. But, if you’ve been craving raw fish with your craft beer than this is the best place in Boston that I’ve found. I took my younger brother here a while back and we had a Pretty Things Jack D’Or and a Slumbrew Happy Sol. They’ve got a moderately sized, but very well selected, list of craft brews in the bottle that will not disappoint. Again, the key here is not the vastness of the choices, but the quality of what you can choose. There is clearly someone here who knows his or her beer. And the raw fish was great! If you want an excuse to drink craft beer while eating sushi, don’t go anywhere else! (I was really happy with photos from here, so I'm including three.)

Seiyo Sushi Boston

Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest

Author // Jeff Wharton

As the weather cools and we move into Fall and then Winter we find ourselves in an exciting time for beer. Brewers focus on using seasonal ingredients to make warming, rich and hearty beers. It's with this is mind that we're bringing back Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest for another year!

Additionally, you can sample and purchase from several local food vendors.

Please Note:

  • There are no refunds OR exchanges.
  • All attendees must be 21+ with a valid ID. Nobody will be allowed into the building who is under 21 or who doesn't have a valid ID.
  • Tickets will be emailed by Eventbrite. You must bring this ticket to the event where it will be scanned.
  • You can transfer tickets using Eventbrite.
  • We give no entry guarantee if you buy your ticket from a reseller.

Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest
November 15th & 16th

Space 57 - The Revere Hotel - 200 Stuart Street, Boston, MA
Session 1 - Friday, November 15th: 6-9:30pm
Session 2 - Saturday, November 16th: 1-4:30pm
Session 3 - Saturday, November 16th: 6-9:30pm


Why Join Us At Fall to Winter Fest?

Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest focuses on New England-made beers featuring fall and winter seasonal ingredients as well as holiday ales. By attending, you’ll be able to sample 80+ fall and winter beers from 25 of New England’s best craft brewers! Many of these brews are being made specifically for this event or will be released there.

How Much Does It Cost?

For only $50 you’ll get admittance to one session which includes:

  • Unlimited 2oz samples of 70+ fall and winter beers from 25 New England craft brewers!
  • Biodegradable tasting cup
  • Fest Guide

What Food Will Be Available?

More than just beer, we know fall and winter are about great food as well. With that in mind, we want to provide you with some local and delicious food options to eat with your beer!

  • Mei Mei Street Kitchen (for purchase)
    • One of Boston's most innovative food trucks (and soon to be restaurant) featuring Chinese/American fusion food.
  • Roxy's Grilled Cheese (for purchase)
    • Awesome, off-the-wall grilled cheese
  • Grillo's Pickles (for sample and purchase)
    • Delicious locally-made pickles, including hop pickles.
  • Union Sq. Donuts (for purchase)
    • Eat craft donuts! Great flavors.
  • Roxy's Grilled Cheese (for purchase)
    • Awesome, off-the-wall grilled cheese

Mayflower Brewing's Ryan Gwozdz [5 Questions]

Author // Jeff Wharton

As longtime readers of Drink Craft Beer know, we've been friends with the team at Mayflower Brewing Co. since the very beginning. Their founding brewer, Matthew Steinberg, was a friend going back to his days at Offshore Ale House, so we made sure to get in to Mayflower as soon as it opened. Hell, I even spent a day there shadowing the brewing team for my Professional Brewer For a Day article. One of the first people we met at Mayflower, aside from Steinberg, was assistant brewer Ryan Gwozdz, who came over from Buzzards Bay Brewing. Matthew has since left, leaving the head brewer position, and Mayflower brewing operations, in the capable hands of Ryan. Since then Mayflower has continued to succeed and put out new and delicious beers. Well we thought it was about time we caught up with Ryan, who has come a long way since that pro brewer for a day article you last saw him in on this site. 

We love his beer, so lets talk with the man himself. Also, if you want to say hello, come on down to Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest 2013 in Boston this November, where Mayflower will be pouring an assortment of their delicious brew!

Drink Craft Beer: How did you get into craft beer?

Ryan Gwozdz: While I was going to college for Environmental Engineering, my sister’s boyfriend would always buy different beers for us to try. This opened my eyes that all beer wasn’t created equally. I was working at Circuit City at the time and despised it. I finally decided that every job I had after that, I would actually enjoy. So I blindly called Buzzards Bay Brewing in Westport, MA one afternoon and left a message saying I was interested in learning about the brewing process. A couple hours later they called me back and told me to come in the next day to bottle with them. I was 19 then and 8 years later it still makes my day smelling the mash every morning.

DCB: What was the turning point (a beer or moment) that made you love craft beer?

RG: Those first few months working at Buzzards. It wasn’t necessarily beer, but more so learning the brewing process, being a sponge and relentlessly asking questions. I owe much of what I know about the industry now to Harry and Nate who took me under their wings and saw brewing potential in me. Thanks guys.

DCB: You walk into a magical beer shop with every beer currently available. You can put together one six-pack. What do you walk out with? Only one beer can be from your brewery.

RG: Cantillon Gueuze, Orval, Schlenkerla Urbock, Mayflower Summer Rye, Allagash Interlude, Half Acre Daisy Cutter. I’m adding a 7th, Molson (reminds me beers with my grandfather!)

DCB: You have one night in your favorite beer city. What city are you in and where do you go (it doesn’t all have to be beer)?

RG: Brussels, Belgium. Hang out at Cantillon. Order ceramic pitchers of beer at A La Becasse. Chug Mayflowers in front of Manneken Pis. Order Westy 12 and laugh at the hype of it. Late night drinking at Moeder Lambic. Drink cans of Jupiler while walking the city. Basically the same trip I took a few years back with some great friends.

DCB: What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in beer?

RG: Working on an organic farm. My grandfather always had a huge garden that I loved, and I spent years working on my uncle’s orchard. The hardest part of brewing is being inside all day. It’s hard to beat the feeling of working outside. Understanding and seeing food grow the way it should be (small scale and naturally) is something I could see myself doing.

DCB: What do you drink when you’re not drinking craft beer (or beer at all)?

RG: Coffee, bourbon, or chocolate milk. Gin & Tonic is my summer mistress.

DCB: You can brew any beer you like, no matter the cost and consumer demand, what would you make and what dream ingredients would you use?

RG: I would brew a grodziskie. It is an old Polish style that tart and brewed using smoked wheat. It would be 100% Weyermann Oak Smoked Wheat. They are making some of the finest malts available to the industry today. And who else makes oak smoked wheat?!

DCB: Thanks so much for your time, Ryan! Looking forward to seeing Mayflower at Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest in November!

Wormtown Brewery's Ben Roesch [5 Questions]

Author // Jeff Wharton

So I heard you like to drink local craft beer? Well maybe it's time you meet a man who helps bring you those local beers that you love so...and he's been brewing with local ingredients since before it was cool (although Ben not being a hipster and all, he probably wouldn't put it that way). You've see his beer throughout Massachusetts (his brewery, Wormtown Brewery, will even be at the 2013 Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest in November!), including Be Hoppy IPA, MassHole Hefeweizen and so many more delicious options. But why is his beer so delicious? Maybe it's the use of local ingredients in every beer, as mentioned above. Or maybe it's the fact that he trained under Will Meyers, Brewmaster at the acclaimed Cambridge Brewing Company. Perhaps he's just gifted? Or could it be a blend of all of that and more? Luckily, I was able to get some of Ben's time and so, without further ado, I'll quit my conjecture and go straight to the man himself for these answers.

And remember, if Ben seems like a cool guy who you'd like nothing more than to meet, you can! Just grab your tickets to Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest in November and he'll be behind the Wormtown booth pouring brew.

Drink Craft Beer: How did you get into craft beer?

Ben Roesch: I started drinking craft beer in college at UMass Amherst [with] Berkshire Brewing and Paper City being on tap at local bars. From their it grew to trying different styles and, eventually, getting into homebrewing to try my hand at it.

Wormtown Brewery's Ben Roesch

DCB: What was the turning point (a beer or moment) that made you love craft beer?

BR: My own first recipe and homebrewing. I went out to a farm and got sap and syrup and then brewed a maple lager in my roommate's closet. It showed me that with attention to detail and inspiration I could make craft beer happen. That was also the first spark of using local ingredients that I have carried with me throughout my career. 

DCB: You walk into a magical beer shop with every beer currently available. You can put together one six-pack. What do you walk out with? Only one beer can be from your brewery.

BR: Cambridge Brewing Heather Ale, Harpoon Saison Various, The Lost Abbey Red Poppy, Jack's Abby Fire in the Ham, Wormtown Buddha's Juice, and [North Coast] Old Rasputin XII

DCB: You have one night in your favorite beer city. What city are you in and where do you go (it doesn’t all have to be beer)?

BR: Portland, Oregon staying at McMenamin's Kennedy School, visiting Powell's Books, hitting numerous brewpubs and food trucks.

DCB: What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in beer?

BR: Forestry- that was what my degree is in from UMass. I would not regret a day spent on the Quabbin Reservoir where I was just a few days away from accepting a job before I decided to accept my first head brewer job. 

DCB: What do you drink when you’re not drinking craft beer (or beer at all)?

BR: Lots of coffee and water, occasionally kombucha, hard cider, bourbon, and whiskey.

DCB: Where do you see the craft beer industry going in the next year? And, in that vein, can we get a sneak peak at what new to expect from you in the coming year?

BR: More breweries opening, more consumer confusion about who and where the beer is actually being brewed, breweries that can't  consistently make quality beer will eventually have to close. Wormtown will be canning beer in early 2014, working on an expansion and possible new location. And I'll be out sourcing more local and unique ingredients. 

DCB: You can brew any beer you like, no matter the cost and consumer demand, what would you make and what dream ingredients would you use?

BR: Imperial stout brewed with all maple sap no water. Barrel aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels.

DCB: Thanks so much for your time, Ben! Looking forward to seeing Wormtown at Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest in November!