The enormous neon Dorchester sign perched on an old warehouse along 1250 Massachusetts Ave. is aiming to do more than just promote the new brewery housed beneath it. The owners of the Dorchester Brewing Co. say they hope it helps put Boston’s biggest neighborhood on the map.
The brewery project, two years in the making, is the work of real estate developer Travis Lee; Todd Charbonneau, who served as head brewer at Harpoon; Matthew Malloy, a former Zipcar executive; and marketing and branding manager Holly Irgens. The 25,000-square-foot space, which officially opens Thursday, will serve as a launchpad for local craft brewers looking to expand commercial operations. An adjoining taproom and patio, which together can fit 166 guests, will serve up to 20 different beers, all of which will be made on premises.
Lee said the idea for the contract brewery came about after conversations with a local beer maker who had been struggling to expand his operations. “I offered to help, and we called 30 breweries within a 60-mile drive, and said, ‘Hey, do you have any space to brew beer?’ And every single one of them were out of space.”
He discovered there were dozens of brewers who were also frustrated with the lack of brewing facilities in the region. The new brewery will enable craft beer makers to do all brewing, bottling, canning, and kegging on site and serve as a way to showcase those beers to the public.
Seven brewers have signed contracts to operate in the space, Lee said. He would not name names but said many are local. Several New York-based brewers will also begin operations at the site as they look to widen their regional distribution. The contract brewers will begin moving into the space come September. In the meantime, six in-house drafts developed by Charbonneau are currently on tap, most of which give a nod to the neighborhood, from a Savin Summer Stout to Mass Ave IPA. Charbonneau says he plans to keep a selection of lagers, IPAs, and extra strong bitters on rotation.
The project has been a slog for the team, whose original plans to open in the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester fell apart in 2015. Now, the brewery is poised to be part of a resurgence of the commercial strip because of its proximity to the South Bay Town Center project, which was recently approved by the BRA. The 1-million-square-foot development will bring 475 housing units, a hotel, and movie theater, and be just a quarter mile down the street.
“It’s no accident that this brewery is happening in Dorchester . . . it happened intentionally,” Lee said as he welcomed guests to the space. Citing the neighborhood’s cultural diversity, he said his goal was for the brewery to “continue to unite this community. And we’re thrilled to be able to do that over a cold beer.”