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The Mass Media

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Let There Be Beer!

As in most communities, the student body at UMass Boston is quite diverse. Single twenty some-things mingle in with working moms, retirees, and middle aged career switchers from varying ethnicities and backgrounds. But despite our differences there is one thing that ties many of us together—beer. That’s right: beer. You like it, I like it, and we are going to tell you where to go in Boston to get the best selection of that nectar which makes finals week a bit more bearable.

Publick House/Monk’s Cell1648 Beacon St.Brookline, MA

First on our list is the Publick House in Brookline. This neighborhood pub has a strong focus on Belgian and craft beers. According to owner David Ciccolo, “Belgian beer sets the standard” and it is widely held throughout the world as a template of quality craftsmanship. Thus, one can usually find upwards of 20 Belgian beers on draft. Regardless of the number of Belgian offerings available, the 43 taps at Publick House consist of only craft beers; concoctions made by small, independently owned, conventional breweries. This inclination towards traditional brewing methods and pains-taking attention to detail makes for a pallet pleasing selection for a variety of beer drinkers, but more especially for the beer drinker who has an appreciation for the same aesthetic and a bit of knowledge to back it up. In addition to the draft offerings, Publick House also boasts approximately 250 craft bottles, about 150 of which are Belgian. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of choices, you can keep your options open with a flight, a selection of mini samples of beer, in this case sold in sets of four. Publick House is also furnished with a full bar but the beer remains the star, and even seems to find its way into much of the fare on the hearty menu, which was created to compliment the local libation of choice. Dishes range from $8 to $22 and include everything from veal to veggie burgers. You may also choose to forgo your usual appetizer in lieu of an artisanal cheese board sampler ($9) to go with your artisinal brew. Whatever you choose, you can enjoy your comfort food, take pleasure in the trendy bar scene and relish your beer with your belly up to the bar or saddle up to a table in the dining area or on the quant outdoor patio. This bar is best for fans of Belgian beer who know what they like.

Bukowski’s Tavern50 Dalton St.Boston, MA1281 Cambridge St.Cambridge, MA

Named after the late poet and writer Charles Bukowski (known for frequenting a bar or two himself), Bukowski’s Tavern is an eclectic common ground for people from all walks of life that like good beer, good music, and a good crowd. According to Josh Murray, manager at the Cambridge location, “our door is open to anybody” and that is, in part, what separates this watering hole from the pack. The other defining characteristic is, of course, the beer, which ranges from local brews to Belgian standards. With specials, Bukowski’s Cambridge has up to 150 beers available at any given time with 18 taps. Their offerings are in pretty constant rotation depending on season, availability, and new brews to be tried and range in price from $3.25 (Brubaker) to $45 for 25.4oz (Dues Les Brut De Flanders, vintage). They often have specialty casks on hand from any of the 30 different micro-breweries they frequently work with. Their beer menu itself is very involved, and provides descriptions for the many styles of beers listed within. However, if you still find yourself wanting more, their very knowledgeable bar staff of beer enthusiasts can easily help you out, unless of course you would rather leave things to chance. If that is the case, you can step up and spin the wheel o’ beer, but be warned, if you spin it, you buy it. Bukowski’s Boston is strictly beer, wine and some cordials, while the Cambridge location is fitted with a full bar. Both locations, however, have the same full menu of American food with a twist. Vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters can all be satisfied by the culinary offerings, and perhaps after a few drafts one may be adventurous enough to try the peanut butter burger. (I wasn’t, but I can recommend the white trash cheese dip.) With the ever rotating beer list and the “come one, come all” mentality, Bukowski’s is perfect for a laid back pint and a snack, and maybe even a little people watching.

Sunset Grill and Tap130 Brighton AveAllston, MA

It is impossible to talk about the best beer bars in Boston without mentioning Sunset Grill and Tap, a Boston institution that turned 21 this year (jealous?). Sunset has the largest selection of beer in the area, hands down. With 112 beers on tap and 380 bottles, Sunset is a beer lovers’ heaven. They, as you would expect, have a large variety of styles available, with small descriptions provided for each. Owner Marc Kadish takes pride in a beer selection that is “diverse and unique” and, being a beer enthusiast himself, does the dirty work of finding those great standards and new revolutionary brews for your sipping pleasure. Menu specials are often done with beer pairings to enhance the dining experience and, like Publick House, Sunset also offers flights of 4 samples, for those indecisive patrons. The menu itself is written with the beer in mind, and Kadish asserts that the “fun, spicey, finger food compliments the beer.” In addition, Sunset also offers a large selection of mead, the original spirit, that is well worth a try. Other specialty items, like gluten free hard cider and organic beers are also available, not to mention daily beer bargains at $3.99 for 16oz and 4.99 for 23oz (so you can get your PBR on the cheap.) When it all comes down to it, at Sunset beer rules, and with hundreds of brews to choose from it is hard to imagine not finding one to love.

Deep Ellum477 Cambridge St.Allston, MA

Max Toste, co-owner of Deep Ellum in Allston wants to make one thing clear, “I’m not a beer snob, I’m a beer nerd.” He and partner Aaron Sanders run this some how out of the way feeling establishment under that philosophy. An attention to detail, passion for their work, and insistence on providing quality products lie at the base of what they do, and their business reflects that. What separates Deep Ellum from other bars, beer bars specifically, is their barmanship. According to Toste, “everything is made with hand made ingredients from scratch” in a “pre-prohibition” style of bartending that is rarely seen in mid-priced saloons. Their attention is not only centered on well crafted, artisan beers, but is spread to all aspects of the services they provide. While they do keep some Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life in stock, they serve no other macro-brews, with all of their inventory hand picked for sale through their 29 taps, ranging in price from $5.50 to $8, and 70 bottled offerings. Their staff is incredibly informed about their product and is provided with extensive beer education. “The staff is a big part of what we do” and “they are trained to understand what they are selling,” says Toste, who tries to instill in his employees the same excitement he feels for the art of brewing good beer. This makes Deep Ellum the perfect spot for the beer drinker who is less informed but would love to try something new because the staff is committed to finding a beer to please the customer’s tastes using the tools they gain through training and personal interest. Hand-crafted cocktails of an old fashioned variety and an interesting and varied wine list supplement Deep Ellum’s liquid presentations, while their seasonally altered menu provides a refreshing assortment that includes vegetarian and vegan choices (some of which are made with locally grown ingredients.) The space itself is petite, though it will be supplemented by a cozy (and well heated) rear deck until about November. Deep Ellum is the perfect spot for patrons who seek exceptional service, food, and drinks. Oh, and the beer is pretty good too.

The Squealing Pig134 Smith St.Boston, MA

The Squealing Pig is the perfect recreation of an old Irish pub. Wood floors, uncovered metal beams, and rows of low tables sit under string lights in this very cozy gem of a place. Don’t go here with friends of few words, however, because as regulars will tell you, the space lends itself more to a chat than anything else, as their one television screen only gets rolled down for special occasions, like local games and important football (soccer to us) matches. The Pig has 28 taps ranging in price from $3 to $7 along with about 50 bottles. Selections range from local brews like Harpoon to rarer imports like Rapscallion Blessing. Short descriptions accompany each item and any venturing out is undertaken at your own risk. Bottles are arranged by region, Belgians, Germans, Brits, USA, and the rest of the World. The menu offers standard bar fare done better with a late night selection of toasted sandwiches that are delicious. Though the Pig does boast a rather large beer selection as well as a full bar, the key here is atmosphere. This is not your frat boy hang out or your down town “meat-market” or hook-up spot. The regulars and staff are almost like a family, and after a few visits everyone starts to recognize you (so it is best to be sure it’s for a good reason.) This is the type of place you would venture out of the house on a rainy day to come to, and you would be well rewarded with great beer and great food served to the sound of good music.