As the Seaport District continues to flourish, with new restaurants, condos and companies popping up left and right, a nearly 30-year-old Boston brewery is putting the finishing touches on a facelift, designed to bring new life to its iconic legacy.
Next Friday, Harpoon will unveil a $3.5 million renovation to its visitor’s center, complete with a store, catwalks, canning equipment, and – the coolest part – a beer hall.
The hall seats 300, and with communal wooden tables and benches, is reminiscent of a German beer hall.
“It’s got a wonderful feel,” said Charlie Storey, Harpoon’s SVP of marketing and visitor center project manager.
Similar to the brewery itself, the construction material in the hall is deeply rooted in New England. The long tables are crafted from butternut trees, grown in Vermont, and the wood floors are made from recovered pieces of demolished buildings.
When looking west, visitors can glimpse a “wonderful cityscape;” to the east, large glass windows overlook the warehouse equipment.
“For me, part of it feels very modern and contemporary, but part of it feels very Old World and European,” Storey said.
The beer hall will be stocked with 20 taps of Harpoon beer, and visitors can nosh on freshly made pretzels, made with the same malted grains used to make the brews.
“It’s a perfect companion when you’re sitting down having a beer,” said Storey of the pretzels. “It’s going to be really fun.”
It may be fun, but the renovation came from a serious necessity to house Harpoon’s growing popularity. Not only did the brewery’s production of barrels triple in the past few years, it’s number of visitors has skyrocketed as well.
“The idea of a beer hall and welcoming people to the brewery… were really part of the founding mission of the company,” explained Storey, adding that the beer hall is just an extension of that mission.
To better expose visitors to the brewing process, a network catwalks is being installed over Harpoon’s brewing equipment. The catwalks, which will allow tours to be conducted seven days a week, rather than just on weekends, are expected to open in March.
In the retail store, visitors can shop for Harpoon apparel, or fill growlers with the push of a button from an automated machine, stocked with 25 different styles of Harpoon beer.
With the renovation, the brewery is also getting a canning machine in-house, and while Harpoon has already released canned beer in the summertime, they previously had to ship their product to Utica, New York to do so.
The updated visitor’s center is prepared to open on Friday, February 1, pending pouring permits from the state. When those permits are set, the beer is ready to flow.
“What Harpoon has been about, really, since the beginning, is welcoming people to the brewery,” said Storey. “[This is a] great new chapter in a long, fun journey that we’ve been on all these days.”
For a taste of what’s to come, check out this slideshow of Harpoon’s brews below.