It's easy to take for granted the ubiquitousness of craft beers nowadays. But it took some passionate beer lovers to get us where we are. You can start by thanking the dudes behind Harpoon Brewery, whose Boston-based operation helped reinvigorate the microbrew movement in America. Nearing 30, the company continues to turn out top-notch new suds.
Harpoon was incorporated in 1986 as the Mass Bay Brewing Company by three beer-obsessed friends: Dan Kenary, Rich Doyle, and George Ligeti. The trio started the operation because they were frustrated by the meager selection of European-style beers around Boston.
They hatched a plan to brew the sort of beer they loved themselves, and were issued the first permit to sell and manufacture beer that the state of Massachusetts had given out since the 1960s. Fast forward a few years, and you'd have a tough time driving a half hour in any direction around New England without running into another craft brew operation.
This is the Boston waterfront warehouse they purchased a year later, and brewed their inaugural batch of Harpoon Ale. In the beginning, they were brewing primarily for a few local pubs and restaurants.
Once the craft brew craze really took off, they were forced to expand production capacity significantly. They added their own bottling plant and in 2000, purchased the defunct Catamount Brewery a few hours north in Windsor, Vermont.
Today, Harpoon is the 12th largest craft brewery in the United States, producing over 200,000 barrels of their dozens of different beers and ciders per year. Not bad for a band of buddies who just wanted to drink better beer.
The brewery recently installed catwalks above the main production facilities, which allows visitors to tour freely while they're in full-scale production. Eat your heart out, Anheuser-Busch.
Once you've wrapped your walk-through, Harpoon's sprawling on-site beer hall is ready to keep you filled with delicious brews and stuffed with hot pretzels. Settle in, you're going to be here a while.
From your perch there are killer views of both the Boston skyline and the canning line.
Once you've sampled 'em all, it's easy to take home your favorites, thanks to their new state-of-the-art machine that auto-fills growlers like the most party-ready fast food joint soda dispenser you've ever seen.
We'll cheers to that.
Joe McGauleyis a senior editor at Supercompressor. His favorite Harpoon is Rich & Dan's Rye IPA. It's amazing. You should try it.