Although there are upwards of 40 licensed brewers in Greater Boston, many brew under contract at breweries that sell their excess capacity to other beer companies. Some of these companies actually have their own brewers on staff who do the hands-on brewing, while others paint a picture that they do. We'll save the discussion of whether this is good or bad for another time — but there is a major difference, and it's a growing trend that's resulting in fewer brick-and-mortar breweries.
With that said, and with Boston Beer Week coming up on March 8–17, we thought it would be helpful to put together a list of local production breweries that offer tours and tastings. But first, a few tips: brewers are busy people, which explains their odd hours. Your best bet is to call ahead before making the trip and bring some old-fashioned cash for beer to go and schwag. There are numerous brewpubs in the area too. We highly recommend visiting them for a fresh pint brewed at the source.
BLUE HILLS BREWERY
1020 Turnpike St #3B, Canton :: 781.821.2337 or bluehillsbrewery.com
Just 20 miles south of Boston, this Canton brewery serves up complimentary tastings on Wednesdays from 5 to 8 pm, Fridays from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, and Saturdays from 2 to 6 pm.
BOSTON BEER CO.
30 Germania St, Jamaica Plain :: 617.522.9080 or samueladams.com
Tour the Samuel Adams R&D brewery and gift shop Mondays through Thursdays from 10 am to 3 pm, Fridays from 10 am to 5:30 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm. If you're lucky, you'll get to see their barrel room, catch Jim Koch poking around, or try an experimental brewery-only beer.
BUZZARDS BAY BREWING
98 Horseneck Rd, Westport :: 508.636.2288 or buzzardsbrew.com
Previously Just Beer and Buzzards Bay before that (expect an article on this soon), and also home to Westport Rivers Winery, the Buzzard is back, brewing their own brands and contract brewing for several beer companies. Currently tours are from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturdays only.
HARPOON BREWERY & BEER HALL
306 Northern Ave, Boston :: 617.456.2322 or harpoonbrewery.com
Their glorious, newly opened 300-person beer hall is ready to serve you and all your friends copious amounts of beer and pretzels. But due to demand and brewery expansions, you'll want to hit the website for the most up-to-date schedule of tours and tastings.
IDLE HANDS CRAFT ALES
3 Charlton St, Building 3, Unit 4, Everett :: 617.819.4353 or idlehandscraftales.com
Head over to this production brewery — one of the smallest in the area — to taste their Belgian-inspired beers and pick up some brewery schwag on Thursdays from 5 to 8 pm or Saturdays from noon to 4 pm for their "Growler Hours."
JACK'S ABBY BREWING
81 Morton St, Framingham :: 508.872.0900 or jacksabbybrewing.com
If it's delicious lagers you seek, hop on the commuter rail and swing by Thursdays and Fridays from 3 to 7 pm and Saturdays from noon to 5 pm. Tours are on the hour, starting one hour after opening and ending an hour before closing. Check the website for what's currently on tap.
MAYFLOWER BREWING CO.