South Shore Beer Trail promotes local brewery hopping
By Lannan M. O’Brien Photography by Derrick Zellmann and Kjeld Mahoney
The South Shore has become a haven for craft beer lovers, with many breweries and taprooms dotting the map from Plymouth to Hingham. Representatives from nine local breweries recently teamed up to form an organization called South Shore Beer and began brainstorming ways they could cross-promote their businesses. On New Year’s Eve, after almost a year of meetings, the group launched the South Shore Beer Trail, complete with a “passport” designed to challenge beer lovers to visit all of the locations. Participants can pick up a passport at any of the nine breweries and receive a stamp when they visit each one. Once their passport is filled with stamps, the individual receives a special South Shore Beer glass.
“The whole point is to amplify the noise everyone is making to help drive [local beer],” says Jeff Nardone, vice president of sales and marketing at Plymouth’s Mayflower Brewing. “Beer tourism is a big industry now.”
Each of the nine breweries has its own loyal followers, who often have a deep sense of pride in their favorite brews. By working collaboratively, South Shore Beer members aim to spread awareness for all of their brands and inspire the legions of beer drinkers from the South Shore (and further afield) to experience more of the region’s impressive beer scene. “There’s certainly a lot of people who still don’t know we exist,” says Paul Nixon, owner of Independent Fermentations Brewing (IndieFerm) in Plymouth. “This is about letting people know that we’re here.”
Photo: Derrick Zellmann
At this spacious gathering spot, grab a pint and a seat at a long table or play one of many floor or board games. With a rotating beer list, there’s always something new to try on draft. Hungry? There are complimentary snack stations, and food trucks visit Friday-Sunday. Feel free to bring your leashed four-legged friend with you on a Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday.
Must-try: Martin & Lewis Milkshake IPA, a smooth and creamy, fruity IPA with minimal bitterness and a hint of vanilla.
Vitamin Sea Brewing
There’s usually a long line at this busy brewery, but it’s worth the wait if you’re a true beer lover. Check the ever-changing tap list and limited-run can releases on social media—and hurry, because they sell out fast. Indoor and outdoor seating makes for a great vibe in the summer. A rotating schedule of food trucks keep beer drinkers well fed.
Must-try: Greetings from Weymouth, a super-smooth New England IPA brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops.
Photo: Derrick Zellmann
Barrel House Z
It’s all about small-batch, barrel-aged beer at this cozy taproom—and the theme is no secret, with repurposed barrels embedded in the decor. The brews are ever-changing and will likely pair great with the menu of comfort food offered up by the BHZkitchen and the occasional food truck. With trivia nights, live music, board games, and cornhole on the patio, there’s always something happening at this local brewery.
Must-try: Adeline, a dark brown stout with ruby highlights and deep chocolate notes.
Photos: Derrick Zellmann
Praised for its warm ambience and friendly staff, Burke’s is a go-to spot for brews and conversation. The taproom features traditional American and European-style ales, and a BYOF (bring your own food) policy. Live music, trivia nights and frequent fundraisers contribute to the brewery’s reputation as a true community hub.
Must-try: Life of Reilly, a traditional dry Irish stout made with imported Irish barley and served on nitro.
Photo: Kjeld Mahoney
Located in a converted 19th-century schoolhouse, this local gathering place welcomes dogs and humans young and old. Before 7 p.m., it’s not uncommon to see kids playing board games while their parents sip brews. In addition to year-round and seasonal beers—light and citrusy in spring and summer, malt-forward offerings in colder months—food trucks and culinary pop-ups make appearances on Saturdays.
Must-try: Solid Wall of Sound, a sweet, hazy, super-smooth IPA with notes of pineapple and passionfruit (available in cans to-go).
Photo: Kjeld Mahoney
Stellwagen Beer Company
Friendly bartenders, delicious beer and a fun ambience make Stellwagen a great spot for a night out. Enjoy a tasting at a picnic table in the spacious taproom, or in warm weather, venture outside and sip your flight in an Adirondack chair. Food trucks often frequent the brewery, offering beer drinkers a bite to eat.
Must-try: Brian Gose Dancing, a kettle sour brewed with Himalayan salt and fruit (different releases of this brew feature fruit variations).
Mayflower Brewing Company
Founded by a 10th-great-grandson of Mayflower crew member John Alden, it’s only fitting that this Plymouth attraction has the historic ship in its name. Visitors can often find live music in the cozy, kid- and dog-friendly taproom, as well as frequent food trucks and pop-ups. Service comes first at this brewery, which is noted for its friendly and helpful staff.
Must-try: Love & Wrestling, a sweet, complex, double dry-hopped New England double IPA.
Second Wind Brewing Company
This almost-two-year-old taproom in downtown Plymouth is small, but brews with big flavor have already made it a craft beer fan favorite. The fun, family- and dog-friendly vibe is complemented by personable service by the owners themselves. Outside the tasting room, the brewers are familiar faces at local events and pop-up beer gardens.
Must-try: Aloha, a tropical milkshake IPA made with over 100 pounds of pineapple, papaya, guava and cherries, as well as Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans and Citra and Azacca hops.
Independent Fermentations Brewing (IndieFerm)
Specializing in Belgian farmhouse-style brews made almost entirely with local ingredients, this little taproom has become known for exceptional craft beer. Knowledgeable and friendly servers, including the owner himself, help to create an atmosphere where all who enter feel at home. Adjacent to the brewery, IndieFerm Supply offers equipment for home brewing, winemaking and fermenting s.
Must-try: Black Feather Porter, a straight-ahead porter with coffee and chocolate notes that was named for Plymouth’s Black Feather Horse Rescue.