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The Best Places To Drink Beer In Boston, According To Harpoon Brewer Ethan Elston

Welcome to Beer This City! If you dig Eat This City and Drink This City but have always wanted more beer-ness, then this column is for you. We’re talking to brewers and beer experts to get an in-depth look at the best places to pair amazing beer with exciting food in different cities around the world.

When you think of Boston area breweries, Trillium, Night Shift, and the iconic Boston Beer Company (makers of Samuel Adams Boston Lager) are sure to come to mind. But if those are the only breweries you think of, you’re missing one very worthy entry: Harpoon. Founded in 1986, Harpoon Brewery was created when a trio of college friends, upon returning from a trek across Europe, realized they couldn’t find any local beer that even barely resembled the rich, nuanced, well-made brews they enjoyed over on “the continent.” They decided to try their hands at the craft and have grown their company into a well-known brand, with entries like Harpoon IPA, Rec League, Winter Warmer, and the UFO Line of hefeweizens (now a brand on its own).

The company’s founders — Dan Kenary, Rich Doyle, and George Ligeti — excel at identifying and supporting talent every bit as much as they do at creating excellent beers. They find people who “get” what they’re trying to do and promise to carry the creative spirit of the company forward. People who stand out, like brewer Ethan Elston.

During his time at Harpoon, Elston has been central to the creative process behind the brand’s seasonal and 100-barrel series beers. In fact, he’s the brewer who came up with Harpoon’s popular Boston Marathon beer from a few years back as well as the well-loved Vanilla Bean Porter. Some of his other beers include a very unique BBQ Bacon Beer as well as a Toffee Brown Ale. This week, he shared which local breweries, dive bars, and brewpubs he loves to visit in Boston.

FAVORITE EXPERIMENTAL BREWERY – REMNANT BREWING

My favorite experimental brewery is Remnant at Bow Market in Somerville. Bow Market is its own little community and Remnant fits right in. The coffee/beer combo keeps people coming in all day and night. At Remnant, they specialize in making their own styles of beer but also do the classics amazingly well.

FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD BREWERY – WINTER HILL BREWING COMPANY

My go-to neighborhood brewery is Winter Hill Brewing Company in Somerville. Besides the fact that the neighborhood is in the name, Winter Hill has emerged as a great hangout spot in its little corner of Somerville. You won’t find a more welcoming place and the beer, food, and coffee are all quite well made.

FAVORITE BOTTLE/CAN SHOP – DION’S LIQUORS

My favorite bottle shop is Dion’s Liquors, in Newton. Dion’s is always clean and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. They also tend to carry a lot of my favorite beers and if they don’t, they are more than willing to order it. They also keep it fresh with new beers to try whenever I go in.

FAVORITE BEER BAR – CAMBRIDGE COMMON

I always like the selection at Cambridge Common in Cambridge. Cambridge Common always has an amazing selection of local craft beer and a few choice brews from out of town. The food and cocktails are delicious as well.

FAVORITE DIVE BAR – SLIGO PUB

My go-to dive bar is Sligo Pub, Davis Square in Somerville. Sligo is where I had my first legal drink at a bar and I still go there often. I love the atmosphere and even though the quarters are a little cramped it promotes talking with the other bar patrons.

FAVORITE HOTEL BAR – TAMO AT THE SEAPORT HOTEL

The best hotel bar for beer is Tamo at The Seaport Hotel. The staff has always been very friendly at the Seaport Hotel and I have had some great times there. They sometimes have beers on tap that my friends or I made so that makes it even more special.

FAVORITE FANCY RESTAURANT

Grill 23, in Boston. With top of the line steaks and New England seafood, you can’t beat Grill 23. Their cocktail and drink menus make the meal even better. Plus, they always have great beers on tap.

FAVORITE PLACE FOR PIZZA AND BEER – FLATBREAD PIZZA COMPANY

Flatbread Pizza Company in Somerville. Flatbreads pizza is made in wood-fired clay ovens right in front of you and they have a very good selection of beer. You can also play candlepin bowling while you eat and drink so why wouldn’t you go there?

FAVORITE BREWERY RUN BY A FRIEND – BONE UP BREWING COMPANY

I like Bone Up Brewing Company in Everett. Bone Up makes some really good beer. The atmosphere in the taproom is like heavy metal meets D&D. The bar snacks remind me of my childhood. Overall a very fun place to be.

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