Explosive Growth & Killer Breweries on Massachusetts North Shore
Americans love beer. With over 7,000 breweries nationwide (a figure that has tripled in the last decade) we have the most breweries of any country in the entire world. Strike up the raucous rally cries: U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!
New England is one of the hotbeds of craft beer and brewery growth. With breweries like Maine Beer Company, Trillium, The Alchemist, Tree House Brewing Company and others pushing out some of the best beers in the world.
And, fun fact, Portland, Maine actually has the most breweries per capita of any city in the US! But we’ll let you in on a little secret, the North Shore of Massachusetts has been experiencing some incredible growth with creative new craft breweries popping up throughout the region.
Let’s take a closer look at the craft beer industry and the best new craft breweries on the Massachusetts North Shore. Without further ado here are our top 8 contenders for best North Shore brewery.
The growth of the brewing industry over the past 20 years, particularly the craft brew segment, has been absolutely incredible.
While macrobreweries still account for the lion’s share of brewery revenue, craft brewing now owns almost 25% of the $114 billion industry.
Pioneers such as Sam Adam’s Jim Koch, Anchor Brewing’s Fritz Maytag, and Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman turned an underground hobby into a massively profitable industry that is closely followed by a passionate, bordering on obsessive, fanbase.
When they started, the market consisted of the American macros and foreign imports. It was a small tight-knit community of craft brewers that had a camaraderie that was built around a singular passion.
It certainly takes a significant amount of patience. After 32 years of work, Sam Adams has gained an entire 1% of the market share. As CEO Jim Koch put it they went from, “invisible to infinitesimal to tiny all the way up to small.”
These pioneers paved the way for the growth of breweries on the north shore of Massachusetts, such as True North Ale Company.
True North Ale Company was started by the father and son duo, Gary and Jake Rogers, back in the fall of 2017. The Ipswich, MA brewery features an impressive 15,000 square foot warehouse with stylish industrial design, communal tables, high tops and bar area that overlooks the stainless steel brewhouses where the magic happens.
The inviting taproom is kid-friendly, and you’ll see young couples with their kids enjoying a day out on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The knowledgeable staff serves from 20 taps on-site. You can enjoy a full pour, a flight, or take away growlers, canned beers or kegs.
The beers on tap run the gambit from Belgian ale to Irish stout, to Mexican lager. True North actually took home the gold medal at the 2019 North American Brewers Association: International Beer Awards Excellence in Brewing competition for their Vincianne Belgian Ale.
But our favorites are their India Pale Ale varieties: North Shore (Hazy New England Session IPA) and Northern Haze (New England Juicy IPA). Both are well-balanced, hoppy session beers with citrus notes. They are not overly boozy and very drinkable.
But experiment and have fun with the wide variety that is one tap. We’re certain you’ll enjoy your time at this fantastic North Shore brewery.
True North Ale Company
116 County Road
Ipswich, MA 01938
One of the most exciting new brewers on the North Shore of Massachusetts is Brewery Silvaticus. A grain to glass brewery just up the road in Amesbury, Massachusetts, it’s owned and operated by Jay Bullen and his wife Michelle.
The 7-barrel brewhouse is located in the boiler room of an old mill building giving it industrial charm in spades. The focus of Brewery Silvaticus is on European style beer such as Belgian farmhouse ales and German style lagers.
That European focus spilled over to the design and vibe of the brewery as well. With large communal tables and zero TVs, the brewery encourages patron interaction and a focus on the task at hand: savoring delicious beer.
The flagship beers of the brewery have to be the Sovereign Pilsner and the Oblivion Black Lager. The Sovereign Pilsner is a crisp, clean golden pilsner that is very refreshing. While the black lager provides a more earthy and flavorful option. It’ served on a nitro tap giving it a pillowy caramel head and hints of chocolate and espresso.
If you get hungry during your sampling, they have you covered with some delicious Bavarian pretzels from Wicked Twisted paired with mustard from Germany, pickled vegetables, and local cheeses. On Thursdays and Saturdays they up the ante and bring food trucks on site to ensure all patrons have a good coating in place for the evening’s festivities.
And, you can always take a growler to go. Visiting the brewery is currently the only way that you can purchase their lovingly crafted creations.
9 Water Street
Amesbury, MA 01913
Wandering Soul Brewery is another fantastic upstart brewery located on the North Shore of Massachusetts. The brewery is owned by Beverly resident Matt Smith and his wife Abby and was founded in a shed in their backyard.
Prior to the Wandering Soul project, Matt pursued his passion for beer by working in a variety of positions for Clown Shoes Beer. He left the company in 2017 when it was acquired by the parent company of Harpoon Brewing and he decided to further hone is personal homebrewing chops.
The story of the motivation behind the brewery is a powerful one. The Wandering Soul project was ultimately realized out of tragedy when the couple’s daughter Melody was stillborn at 35 weeks. The tragedy caused Matt to delve even further in brewing as a coping mechanism.
The first beer from Wandering Soul was brewed in her honor, Melody Maker IPA, a hazy New England Style-IPA that is brewed with flaked oats and a variety of hops that create a fresh citrus flavor. At 4.9% ABV this IPA refreshing and a good session.
A portion of the proceeds from the brew go to RESOLVE New England, a group that helps people with pregnancy loss.
Another fantastic beer from Wandering Soul is their Double IPA, “Things We Don’t Say” which is brewed with flaked oats and flaked wheat and aggressively dry-hopped. This one clocks in at a heartier 8.1% ABV.
Wandering Soul beer is contract brewed out of Castle Hill Brewery in Norwood and is available at stores, restaurants and bars across the North Shore. Here is a list of locations where you can acquire their latest creations. If you’re on the North Shore, it’s worth a stop to pick some up.
Notch Brewing is a North Shore Brewery located in Salem. It was founded in 2010 with a mission to focus on “session beer.” What is a session beer? Well, it’s essentially a beer that has a lower alcohol by volume, meaning that you can drink more of them without feeling as inebriated. This allows for more safe social time without the fear of adding another notch on your OUI belt.
Notch has actually pledged that it will not make a beer with an ABV higher than 4.5% and will not sacrifice flavor. That is a unique direction considering a landscape littered with boozy double IPAs, but one that they deliver on.
Their brewing is focused on traditional European lager styles from Germany, and the Czech Republic. The taproom provides thirsty travelers 8-14 options that are available in 1 liter, ½ liter and ¼ liter servings. You can enjoy with old friends or meet new friends in the communal space.
In 2016, the company built a new brewery and biergarten on Derby Street in Salem. Brewery tours are available by appointment. The new biergarten is a 2,000 SF industrial style facility, complete with garage door that has a capacity of 200. The spacious facility, with both indoor and patio seating, is perfect for a few friends or a large gathering.
If you get hungry during your tasting adventure you can nosh on warm pretzels, pickled eggs and vegetables, cured meats, smoked sausage, and cheeses. The perfect drinking food.
283 Rear Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970
If you’re looking for hazy, hoppy, IPAs, Channel Marker has you covered. Founded in Beverly, Massachusetts by 3 friends, Tim Corcoran, Jake Crandell, and Justin Negrotti, Channel Marker is one of the best up and coming North Shore breweries. In fact, they recently landed the 9th spot in a USA Today poll of the 10 Best New Breweries In 2020.
Channel Marker opened its new taproom to the public in January of 2019 to huge acclaim. They’ve joined a rich community of brewers right in Beverly that include Paul Gentile of Gentile Brewing and Matt Sullivan and Ben Garry of Old Planter’s Brewing.
The small local taproom has a warm, vibrant brewery vibe. Its located in Beverly’s old United Shoe Building that was actually home to very first Marshall’s store. You can tell that there was a lot of passion poured into the project. Enjoy a flight, full pour or purchase a growler or cans for the road.
Channel Marker Brewing
95 Rantoul Street
Beverly, MA 01915
One of the newest breweries on the block, the Great Marsh Brewery opened the doors to its massive 15,000 square foot facility to the public in November of 2019, wrapping up a planning and development process that commenced in 2016.
The multi-leveled brewery is stunningly designed and features a full restaurant, bar, and brewing facility. It’s clear that no expense was spared in the development.
The brewery is the latest addition to the Webber Restaurant Group which includes the Gibbet Hill in Groton and The Bancroft in Peabody and Burlington.
The beers at Great Marsh are delicious and true to form. If you’re in the area and touring the Essex MA Antique Trail, this is a can’t miss stop for a pint or two and some tasty cuisine. The brewery offers everything from burgers and fish n’ chips to braised short ribs and steak frites.
Great Marsh Brewing
99 Main Street
Essex, MA 01929
If you’re looking for a tribe of obsessive brewers look no further than Essex County Brewing Company. Founded in 2018 by three friends with a singular goal of creating the highest quality beer possible.
The menu of beers at Essex County brewing is constantly changing, but features everything from session IPAs to Saisons, Stouts and Double IPAs. We would recommend kicking off your tasting journey with the Judah, a double IPA with citrus notes featuring domestic and southern hemisphere hops.
You’ll feel right at home in the industrial factory space that has brewery written all over it. This is definitely one to add to your North Shore brewery tour list. They are one of the best up and coming breweries with some of the most refined beers.
Essex County Brewing
58 Pulaski Street Bldg A
Peabody, MA 01960
The next up and coming North Shore brewery to watch is located right here on Cape Ann. It’s the newly-licensed Rockport Brewing Company.
Yes it’s true, a town that was dry for 162 years and just allowed direct to consumer alcohol sales in January of 2019 may soon have its very own brewery! It’s exciting news for the town that is in dire need of some additional dining and drinking establishments.
The company is the brainchild of Rockport couple Ray and Jordana Pickup. The couple received their Farmer-Brewery License this year. They plan on contract brewing in 2020 and building out a taproom in town in 2021.
We’re looking forward to seeing which direction this takes, but regardless of direction there is one thing you can be certain of: Rockport Brewing will pump out some creative suds. For example, their seasonal Americanus is a farmhouse ale brewed with lobster and assorted New England Spices and they are also working on a Gose salty beer. Stay tuned…
We hope that you enjoyed our overview of some of the best north shore breweries. It has truly become a burgeoning craft beer mecca that has a little something for every palate. Here at Addison Choate we’re exciting to provide another fantastic thing for our guests to explore while visiting our Rockport, MA Boutique Hotel.