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A Boston booze time line

Boston's place in booze and brews history
By MIKE MILIARD  |  March 16, 2006

The Pilgrims land in the New World earlier than they’d planned, pushing ashore at Plymouth Rock because they’re out of booze. “We could not now take much time for further search or consideration,” writes William Bradford, “our victuals being much spent, especially our beere.” As good a reason to start a country as any.

Boston’s first brewpub opens for business. The woods were scary, the winters harsh, the Puritan religion severe. But our forefathers had their priorities in order.

The Sons of Liberty band together at the Green Dragon Tavern. While not plotting the Boston Tea Party, they play table skittles ( Golden Tee not yet having been invented) and puff pipes (a smoking ban not yet having been imposed). The Green Dragon still exists, and the Sons’ tab is still outstanding.

 Brewer Samuel Adams signs the Declaration of Independence, believing fervently as he does in “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy hours.”

Late 1800s
Boston is the epicenter of American brewing. At the turn of the century there are more than 30 breweries here — more per capita than in any other American city. We were thirsty.

Prohibition strikes. We tried to think of a joke for this one, but there’s nothing funny about it.

Joseph Kennedy’s bootlegging and rum-running helps fund a political dynasty. His son Ted (who, ironically, would have been his best customer) is born in 1932 — just in time for repeal the following year.

1960sEarly-to-mid 1960s
The golden age of fraternity. At BU and BC, Harvard and MIT, the Kingsmen blare from hi-fi stereos, togas are worn and torn off, and alcohol is guzzled by the gallonful. Then the hippies come along with their “grass” and “LSD” and ruin the party.

 Jim Koch founds Boston Beer Company and helps kick-start a new craft-brew revolution. His philosophy is simple: beer should taste good. What a concept! Three years later, Harpoon keeps the ball rolling, and Boston Beer Works, Cambridge Brewing Company, Buzzard’s Bay, and Mercury Brewing spearhead a new golden age in Massachusetts beer.


fter being nicked at a New Year’s Eve party for intoxication and held for nine hours by the Waltham police until he sobered up, 25-year-old Eric Laverrier sues the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, asserting that the Constitution allows him to drink to excess on private property. When the Beastie Boys wrote “Fight for Your Right to Party,” they probably didn’t mean it quite this literally.

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Joseph Kennedy , Jim Koch , Samuel Adams ,  More more >
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