This week I had the opportunity to brew a batch of beer at Hopster’s Brew and Boards, the new brew-on-premises facility in Newton Corner. Hopster’s is conveniently located right off exit 17 along the Mass Pike, with a number of parking lots nearby. It is also easily accessible by bus from the city or the suburbs. This location used to house Prana, a vegan raw-food restaurant. As a resident of the area I can’t describe how excited I was that the site was being upgraded from a vegan restaurant to a new craft beer hotspot. As you walk into Hopster’s you see a large main room, sleekly decorated, including lighting fixtures made from beer bottles and growlers. One side of the room is set up as a dining area with tables and chairs, along with a small lounge area. The other side is dominated by brewing equipment, featuring 10 steam heated copper brewing kettles. There is also a small room with brewing ingredients and a bottling area. The walls are decorated with murals describing many popular varieties of beer along with key ingredients in the brewing process.
There are a number of things going on at Hopster’s, but the focus is on brewing. I am of the opinion that the best way to really learn about beer is to make it yourself. Home-brewing teaches you about all of the ingredients involved in making a great batch of beer and how each ingredient effects the final product. The great thing about a brew-on-premises site is you can try brewing without investing in any equipment. Hopster’s is set up for all experience levels, from first time brewers to experienced home-brewers. If it’s your first time brewing, one of their brewmasters will help you pick a recipe that fits your taste and then walk you through the entire process. Lee, the owner and manager, told me he realizes that brewing beer can be a little intimidating for someone with no experience, so he made a special effort to hire people who know alot about brewing and can teach people without being condescending. Hopster’s also has features that will attract experienced home-brewers. You can bring your own recipe or modify one of their existing recipes. They are the first brew-on-premises facility in the country set up for all-grain recipes. There are mash-tuns in the basement that re-use the filtered cooling water from the brewing kettles to mash grain. Most home-brewers love a challenge, and Hopster’s is in the process of setting up competitions, where teams will have a chance to brew a batch with their own recipe with the final products being judged and a winner awarded.
One of the main concepts at Hopster’s is adding a social experience to the brewing process. The kettles are perfectly set up so whole groups can come and brew a number of batches of beer. This is a great place for company outings, you are able to reserve the entire facility on weekdays if you have a large group. Hopster’s is also set up to be a nice place to hang out, if some of your group is more interested in observing the process than participating, there is plenty of seating. Unlike many other brew-on-premises locations, Hopster’s serves food, focusing their menu on locally sourced cheese and charcuterie (the kitchen is currently weekend-only, but will soon be available every day). The farm where the pigs are raised even uses the spent grain from the brewing process to supplement their feed. Hopster’s is in the process of installing a full bar as well, with the draft list consisting of local micro-brews and in-house creations. The winners of the brewing competitions will even see their beers on draft. All of the proper licensing should be approved in the next few weeks, I’ll make sure to pass the info along (these things can be slow in Massachusetts). If you’d rather just brew at home, Hopster’s carries a full line of grains, hops, extracts adjuncts and yeast, all for sale.
On our recent visit my brother and I toured the facility, chatted with the owner and brew-masters, and brewed a batch of beer. I had an idea for a Belgian IPA that was just a concept, mimicking a Belgian Tripel with late additions of American hops to add flavor and aroma. A quick chat with the brewers at Hopster’s and my concept was quickly rounded out into a full idea complete with recipe. I am excited to go back and bottle the beer, and then give it a taste test (expect a full write-up in early December). The prices are reasonable, $150-$200 for a batch, which covers the whole experience (many places have hidden fees like bottles that are added on at additional cost). For that price you get three cases (72 12 oz. bottles) of hand-crafted beer to enjoy. So whether you are someone who has always wanted to try home brewing and didn’t know where to start, someone who has a little experience and wants to try a more complicated recipe, or an experienced home-brewer who wants to hang out with some good people and bounce some ideas around, check out Hopster’s Brew and Boards in Newton Corner.
If you have any other questions about Hopster’s feel free to send me a message by commenting on the blog or through Twitter @HoppyBoston.
For more info or to make an appointment check out their website at: