While most breweries craft their chrome cask magic in isolated rooms or behind panes of glass, at Hopsters—which sits at the gateway to The Seaport—the beer is brewed right there in the taproom. What’s more, they let you do the brewing yourself. Just 20 years ago, The Seaport was a little more than a vast parking lot, a grey landscape dotted with rotting piers, rusting scrap metal and decaying industrial warehouses. Today, glass high-rises stand on what were once mud flats and long brick warehouses are now filled with the flip-flops and laptops of Boston’s tech industry. Hopsters is an unlikely symbol of the district’s past, present and future.
The traditional craft brewery deals in small batches, specialized recipes and unique brewing techniques, but Hopsters takes this idea a step further: Their batches are about 70 bottles small, and their recipes vary based on your individual taste, because at Hopsters, you can brew the beer yourself. The fun starts a few steps above and behind the taproom, where about a dozen small ‘kettles’ face each other, the warm light from large lamps glinting off the chrome lids.
With the help of a Hopsters brewer, you choose from a book of their signature styles—nut browns, porters, IPAs, you name it—to determine what kind beer you’ll be brewing. Next you select the malt (dried wheat kernels) based on how light or dark you want your beer to taste. If you’re not certain what flavor you want, just pop a kernel in your mouth and crunch away: it’ll taste startlingly like beer. You grind the malts, pour them into a mesh bag, then its over to the kettle where you raise and lower the malt bag in heated water, exactly like dropping a tea bag into a porcelain cup.
Throughout the process, the Hopsters brewer expertly guides you through the steps and explains the significance of each ingredient, from the scents each hop variety will add to the beer, to the effect on flavor based on when in the brewing process those hops are added. In the end though, which ingredients you choose, when you add them—and the resulting flavors, colors and scents—are entirely yours to decide.
The brewing process takes two to three hours, and Hopsters has a salty menu full of American and New England classics, along with a full draught lineup of (officially brewed) signature Hopsters beers that will keep you full and refreshed throughout. Your beer will need about two weeks to ferment, at which point you’ll return to bottle and take home your creation.
From Truffles to Robots
Boston has loads of options for people who love to make things, from truffles to sensor-equipped robots. Boston Chocolate School holds a Saturday truffle workshop at the Financial District’s Elephant & Castle pub. Eataly, the emporium for all things and flavors Italian, offers loads of foodmaking classes, and their ‘Back to Basics’ fresh pasta demos are outstanding. Tweak your sneakers with artwork and textiles at Converse Ink Bar and Blank Canvas, so that your footwear becomes truly unique. Learn to use a potter’s wheel at The Clayroom, then make and paint your own pottery: Why not craft a jug from which you can pour the beer you made at Hopsters? Finally Artisan’s Asylum is a non-profit community workshop in Somerville where you can make pretty much anything you can imagine (including robots).