A lot of breweries have been springing up in the Greater Boston area and elsewhere in New England over the past several years, and while some focus almost exclusively on beermaking and tastings (like Notch Brewery in Salem) while others seem to focus more on food (Saltbox Kitchen in West Concord, for instance), there aren't too many that both beer geeks and food nerds will enjoy equally. The dining space and taproom at Somerville Brewing Company is certainly one such place, striking a nice balance between food and drink, and it also happens to be a bit of a hidden gem, buried away in an industrial part of Somerville that is just starting to see the type of development that other sections of the city have seen over recent times.
Somerville Brewing Company goes by a few different names, with beer lovers being familiar with its Slumbrew brand, but its beer garden in Assembly Row and its brewpub/taproom (which is the focus of this review) go by other names as well--the former being called American Fresh Brewhouse Beer Garden and the latter being called American Fresh Brewhouse Brewery--though the name "Somerville Brewing Company" seems to be the one most used. (The brewery itself is sometimes called Boynton Brewery, by the way.) The brewpub and taproom are located within the brewery facility itself, and as you might expect, the building is relatively spacious, including an L-shaped bar that dominates the front space, a number of tables situated along the walls, a beermaking area out back, and a small commercial kitchen and some room for storage upstairs. Like many breweries that operate in old buildings, the space has an industrial vibe to it while also feeling a bit homey and laid back.
Because the kitchen area is so limited, the people at Somerville Brewing Company have to be particularly efficient on the food end of things, and they do a pretty good job of making the most out of what could have been a rough situation. Many of the food options are relatively easy to prepare, but they are made using mostly fresh, local, and organic ingredients, and even though they tend to be simple dishes, they aren't always your typical pub grub offerings. Here you will find (depending on the season and the specials offered) such items as charcuterie boards that include a wide variety of meats and cheeses, warm and soft pretzels that come with house-made mustard and beer cheese sauce, an outstanding cheddar ale soup that seems to have a strong connection to the aforementioned beer cheese sauce, a nacho plate that comes with sweet and tender slow-cooked pulled pork, a plate of tater tots with a side of smoky chipotle ketchup, a ham sandwich with a rich pimento cheese spread and ciabatta from Iggy's, a plate of pulled pork tacos with onions and a sweet and rich sauce along with a side of mac and cheese, a sublime barbacoa beef bowl that contains Mexican braised beef with rice, cheddar cheese, lime crema, jalapenos, and pico de gallo, a sleep-inducing Hot Southern Bird sandwich that has thick-cut turkey, spicy bacon, white barbecue sauce, and cheddar cheese [ed note--no longer available, at least for now], an array of grilled flatbread pizzas with the marvelous basil pesto pizza being nut free and including a balsamic drizzle, and for dessert, a decadent Belgian waffle with peaches, bananas, and whipped cream, and a "deconstructed Fluffernutter." Beer, of course, is what many if not most people come for, and there are some great ones here, with highlights including an impossibly rich Porter for Paradise made with coffee and toasted coconut, a slightly sour Gose The Destroyer that includes hibiscus, a "Slumkin Pumpkin" that has a nicely balanced pumpkin flavor, a refreshing Happy Sol blood orange hefeweizen, and a Flagraiser Double IPA that doesn't have the harshness that many IPAs have. (Flights of beers can be done for those who wish to try some or all of the beers here, and as with the food options, check in advance to see what it available.)
Somerville Brewing Company is one of a small handful of breweries in the Greater Boston area that offers both good food and good beer, and it also has the bonus of being close to the city itself while having its own parking lot. If you are a beer nerd who also leans a bit toward being a food nerd as well, definitely put this one on your list.
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