On walks through their Cambridge neighborhood, Cayla Marvil and AC Jones would frequently pass an old car garage and think, “That would make a great spot for a brewery,” Marvil recalls.
The couple, who met in college and “bonded over a love of beer,” were already home brewing together, bouncing recipes off friends and dreaming about opening a brewery of their own. And they knew they wanted to open it in Cambridge. “To us, it was crazy that a city of this size didn’t have a distribution-focused brewery,” Marvil says. “We knew we could do it faster and cheaper if we went to some outlying industrial park, but the taproom was a main focus for us wanting to do this.”
“This” being Lamplighter Brewing, which the pair opened in that old garage in September, selling growlers to a steady crowd of friends from the neighborhood and curious passersby. Lamplighter exclusively brews ales—the favored style for the couple and head brewer Tyler Fitzpatrick, who previously honed his hops skills at Mystic, Wormtown and Cape Cod Brewing. “We’re definitely trying to focus on funkier things,” Marvil says. “A lot of Brettanomyces fermentations, a lot of sours.”
But selling growlers was only step one, and in November, they unveiled a taproom that’s open till midnight Tuesday through Sunday. “It’s the best way for us to share our beer, because we can explain what we’re doing and why those flavors are there,” Marvil says. “I think it’s really unique to have a brewery like this in a downtown city setting…. You’ll see brewpubs, sure, but to get 10,000 square feet in the middle of the city is really cool.” That space isn’t going to waste. Aside from the taproom, which currently offers about eight rotating beers on tap, there’s a kitchen slinging pretzels and peanuts—expect hot dogs and tater tots in early December—as well as Longfellows, a cafe pouring Barrington coffee (including mint mojito cold brew). “It’s a similar demographic, the people who are drinking craft coffee and craft beer, I think,” Marvil says.
To make that demographic feel at home, they’ve appointed the taproom like a stylish 20-something’s pad, with a makeshift “living room” complete with a couch, a throw rug, books and board games. “We want it to be very community oriented,” Marvil says. “We live in this neighborhood, and we know a lot of people, so we just wanted a place where we could hang out.” Accordingly, they plan to host frequent community events, including weekly trivia nights, a beer and cheese pairing night and an oyster night in collaboration with Island Creek.
“We just need beds in here,” Marvil jokes, “and then you’ll never have to leave!”
Lamplighter isn’t the only new hop-stop around. Here are a few more buzzy openings farther afield.
Start Line Brewing
Opened in mid-November, this brewery and taproom pours pale ales, stouts and IPAs made with hydroponic hops out of Water Fresh Farm in Hopkinton. Guests can also take home their brews—which include a rotating line of running-themed beers—in 32-ounce crowlers or 64-ounce growlers.
Down the Road Beer Co.
Joining the likes of Night Shift and the recently opened Bone Up Brewing Co., Down the Road is set to open a 12,000-square-foot taproom in Everett early next year. Fans of its flagship Pukwudgie Pale Ale and new brews like the White Hart Helles can expect 10 to 16 beers on draft, arcade games and possibly a beer garden come warmer weather.
More evidence that sour beers are having a moment: Jack’s Abby’s announcement of a new barrel room devoted to expanding its sour program. Opening this winter, the 30,000-square-foot Springdale Barrel Room will sit adjacent to the Framingham brewery’s beer hall and house a 12-tap bar pouring a variety of sours, along with saisons and other brews outside of Jack’s Abby’s established portfolio.