• Guide

Check Out the Best Breweries in Boston

By Jacqueline Cain · 01/14/2022

Welcome to Boston, where craft beer was born. Seriously: The city is home to some original American craft breweries, and also boasts some of the buzziest beermakers in the U.S. Whether you’re looking for the best New England IPAs or a Boston Irish stout, you’ll find it at a local brewery. Head to these top taprooms around Boston to share pints with friends or spend the afternoon on a dog-friendly patio, and stock up on craft beer cans to bring home. Beer connoisseurs and craft newbies alike are well-served by Boston’s best breweries.

Photo Provided by Trillium Brewing Co.

Photo Provided by Trillium Brewing Co.

Trillium Brewing Company
Trillium Brewing Company is regarded as one of the best breweries in the world—and it was born right here in Boston. The beermaker earns acclaim for brews across the spectrum, from hoppy numbers like the huge Headroom to decadent dark beers like a Tiramisu pastry stout. Trillium now has three industrial-chic taprooms in Fort Point, Fenway, and Canton, plus one of the best seasonal beer gardens around.

Notch Brewing
When it launched more than a decade ago, Notch Brewing brought something new to American breweries and taprooms: “Session” beer, or craft beer that’s less than 5 percent alcohol. From a bright and herbal Czech Pilsner to new wave IPAs, Notch beers are full-flavored and easy to love. The unique brewery also has taprooms unlike any others around Greater Boston, with relaxed vibes inspired by Europe at its locations in Salem and Brighton.

Lamplighter Brewing Company
Like the Cambridge neighborhood that’s home to its sunny taproom, Lamplighter Brewing Company is all about community and innovation. The popular brewery is a café-by-day, and is known for all kinds of beer styles. Among the not-so-usual brews are hazy New England IPAs, such as Birds of a Feather and Major Tom; as well as complex, barrel-aged beers, like a mixed-fermentation sour called Kendall Square.

Cambridge Brewing Company
CBC doesn’t get the hype of some newer breweries on this list, yet beer lovers revere this modest, 30-plus-year-old brewpub in Kendall Square. That’s because Cambridge Brewing Company not only nails the classics, such as Charles River Porter and Cambridge Amber Ale, but also expertly stays on top of trends, like using cryo hops for more concentrated flavor and aroma. The local-leaning food menu and dog-friendly patio also make CBC one of our fave places for pints.

Night Shift Brewing
One of the quintessential breweries in the Boston area, Night Shift is always dreaming up something new along with go-to beers like Whirlpool Hazy Pale Ale, Nite Lite Lime, and the sour Weiss series. It has two great taprooms: A food truck- and dog-friendly patio in Everett, and a Detroit-style pizza place on Lovejoy Wharf; plus a pair of seasonal beer gardens along the Charles River.

Idle Hands Craft Ales
Whether you love lagers, saisons, pale ales, or porters, you won’t be disappointed at Idle Hands Craft Ales. The Belgian and German-inspired brewery crafts classic styles to suit all tastes, and serves them up in a Malden taproom frequented by food pop-ups like Hot Chix and The Nada Cart. There’s a dog-friendly beer garden outside, too. 

Dorchester Brewing Company
Dorchester Brewing Company has a huge brewhouse, which works for partner brands and also makes house beers, meaning there’s always something exciting to try on draft. (DBCo. produces wines, ciders, and hard seltzers, too.) The thing we love most, however, might be the space itself, which has an M&M BBQ restaurant, a game room, and the “Hopservatory,” a glass-enclosed rooftop bar.

Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen
Brighton brewpub Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen is all about local flavor, from the New England-milled malts that form the backbone of beers like Brighton Hoppy Pale Ale and a decocted Schwarzbier (German-style dark lager), to house-made sausages. Grilled cheese sandwiches are also a signature, made with breads baked in-house using brewer’s grains. The industrial taproom with a large patio is a welcome addition to the populous neighborhood. 

Aeronaut Brewing Company
The original Somerville HQ of Aeronaut Brewing Co. is always a good time, with more than a dozen beers on draft plus frequent live music and an on-site “food hub” that’s home to Carolicious Venezuelan arepas. Aeronaut started Boston’s original outdoor beer garden—a seasonal happening in Lower Allston—and has also expanded with a second taproom location in Everett. 

Democracy Brewing Company
When you want a beer in downtown Boston, head to this worker-owned brewpub. Democracy Brewing is a proper pub, with a long wooden bar and tables and a cozy “snug” for group dining. House brews include the Worker’s Pint, an easy-drinking golden ale; and 1916 Rising, a dry Irish stout named for the republic’s rebellion. This large, centrally located beer hall often hosts live music and has a full food menu, too.

Credit: Reagan Creative

Castle Island Brewing Company
With beers like Keeper IPA and Hi-Def, Castle Island Brewing Co. has been a Boston presence since 2015. The locals recently debuted a super-cool taproom in South Boston with a kitchen dedicated to Bardo’s Pizza, an on-site restaurant firing up good and greasy South Shore-style bar pizza. Castle Island also has a taproom in Norwood with a seasonal, dog-friendly outdoor patio.

Widowmaker Brewing
Located on the Quincy line in Braintree (just across the Blue Hills Reservation from Trillium in Canton), Widowmaker Brewing is a South Shore destination. There are always a few hazy IPAs to choose from, such as Ecstasy of Gold; boozy pastry stouts like the peanut butter-infused Candymaker; and palate cleansers like Widowlager Pilsner. Food trucks are on site every Thursday through Monday.

Vitamin Sea Brewing
Further afield from Boston in the South Shore town of Weymouth, Vitamin Sea is worth the drive. One of the buzziest breweries in the country despite very limited distribution, VSB packs plenty of flavor into its rotating selection of IPAs, pastry stouts, sours, and cream ales. Not sure what to order? The aptly named IPA Sea For Yourself is our favorite. Food trucks usually pull up during taproom open hours.

Samuel Adams
When Samuel Adams beer was first introduced, “craft” wasn’t a thing and “taproom” had yet to enter the American lexicon. Some 30 years later, Boston Lager is ubiquitous around New England (and beyond), but innovation lives on at the original Boston craft brewery. The Boston Beer headquarters in Jamaica Plain now has a welcoming taproom and beer garden, and there’s a shiny new taproom, kitchen, and roof deck at Faneuil Hall.

Harpoon Brewery
Harpoon IPA is crystal clear, but it’s still the original New England IPA. Citrusy and balanced, it tastes even better at the source—preferably paired with a doughy pretzel and house-made ale mustard, IPA cheese, bacon ranch, or garlic parmesan butter. (We love that two sauces come per pretzel!) The Seaport beer hall is a beautiful setting, with a range of drinks on draft including Harpoon, UFO, and Clown Shoes Beer, plus City Roots Hard Cider.

Credit: Jordan Griffin

Jack’s Abby
A lager utopia, Jack’s Abby looks toward Germany to bring an excellent experience to Boston’s Metrowest. The Framingham beer hall is large and convivial, with a full food menu featuring wood-fired pizzas and bar fare. On tap are Jack’s classics like the seasonal favorite Copper Legend Octoberfest and Smoke & Dagger dark lager, plus a selection of not-lagers from the excellent sister brand Springdale Beer. With a huge distribution capacity, too, you can’t go wrong ordering Jack’s House Lager anywhere around Boston.

Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company
This brewery made Framingham a true beer lover’s destination when it debuted in the original Jack’s Abby location. Founded by an experienced brewer, Exhibit ‘A’ offers great examples of classic styles like Goody Two Shoes Kölsch and The Cat’s Meow New England IPA, along with plenty of fun experiments. The small taproom has a food truck-frequented outdoor patio and bar, and hosts frequent live music.

Springdale Beer Company
Started as an offshoot of Jack’s Abby, Springdale Beer has come into its own. Sour beer lovers are especially well-served by this “barrel room,” which offers a range of mixed-fermentation one-offs, cocktail inspired-brews, and seasonal cans like Lavenade, a lavender-lemon tart ale that’s a warm-season favorite.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Sign up for our biweekly newsletter for curated guides, can't-miss dishes, and more.

Enter Email