Location: Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is based out of Somerville, MA but they don’t have a physical brewery. They rent out brewery space to brew all of their beers. I would love to see a Pretty Things brewery/taproom at some point, but the contract brewer setup seems to fit the philosophy of the brewery and it’s founders.
Leadoff: Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is the brainchild and passion project of husband and wife team Dann and Martha Paquette. For six years they have been producing some of the highest quality beers in Massachusetts. Dann and Martha find inspiration in their travels and through collaborating and studying with other brewers. They make beers using a combination of classic and modern brewing techniques. They also take pride in researching old recipes and bringing back styles that have fallen by the wayside. Although Pretty Things makes a wide range of beer styles they have an affinity for maltier beer, an anomaly in the hop-centric American beer culture. This was one of the first local breweries that inspired me to learn more about the beers I was drinking, a path that eventually led to me starting this blog.
My Favorite Pretty Things Beers
Jack D’Or: The beer that made me a fan of the saison style. This beer is complex mixture of expressive Belgian style yeast, a number of diverse grains and substantial hops, but everything meshes in perfect harmony.
Meadowlark IPA: Many people were surprised when Pretty Things first launched an American IPA, but it quickly became one of their most popular beers. Bright and hop forward but still balanced, this is one of the best local versions of the IPA style.
Barbapapa: Pretty Things uses a complicated and time consuming double decoction technique to extract maximum malt flavors for some of their big beers. Barbapapa is a bold and boozy imperial stout that celebrates dark and roasted malt flavors.
Bocky Bier: I think the bock/dopplebock styles of German lagers are underrated and underexplored by American brewers. Pretty Things released Bocky Bier this winter and it immediately became one of my favorite versions of this style, I really hope it becomes part of their regular lineup.
Other Beers You Should Try:
It was hard for me to limit myself to only four “favorite” Pretty Things beers, I enjoy so many of their offerings. Baby Tree is their flagship quadrupel featuring huge malt flavors that perfectly complement the Belgian yeast. Their spring seasonal Fluffy White Rabbits is a Belgian tripel with a liberal dose of tasty hops. The early winter brings double-decoction mashed Our Finest Regards, one of the best local barleywines. Their other double decoction beer is Grampus, a hoppy ale with lighter color but big boozy flavor. Other flavorful malt-forward offerings include brown lager Lovely Saint Winefride and brown ale St. Boltoph’s Town. All of these beers are worth picking up if you are a fan of the respective styles.
Collaborations: One of the advantages to contract brewing is that it allows Dann and Martha to travel more and from these travels many collaboration beers are born. One of my all-time favorites was a Stingo they brewed with Boulevard Brewing Company. Stingo is a nearly extinct dark and malty British ale style, after tasting this beer I really hope it makes a comeback. More recently Pretty things brewed a deliciously hoppy double IPA called There’s No Place Like There with Spanish brewer Naparbier. I look forward to seeing what collaborations are in store for the coming year.
Artwork and Glassware: Ever wonder who comes up with the interesting and eclectic cast of characters that adorn the Pretty Things beer labels? Dann and Martha do all of the artwork for the brewery themselves. Sometimes they even come up with a design and a name first and have to develop the proper beer to complement their art. Pretty Things also makes some very unique glassware, including the pint glass boot that I was finally able to add to my glassware collection.
Final Thoughts: It amazes me how many people forget about Pretty Things when they list the best breweries in New England. I don’t think I have ever had a bad beer by this brewery, and many of their beers are amongst my favorite versions of a particular style. I highly recommend tasting any and all beers this brewery produces, I know I will continue to be a frequent customer!