Let’s raise our (small) glasses to Bos­ton...

The mea­sures may be short but DAVE LAF­FERTY is in craft ale heaven en­joy­ing the US beer brew­ing revo­lu­tion

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

BOS­TON is fond of rev­o­lu­tions. Back in 1773 a group of dis­grun­tled lo­cals fa­mously hurled some chests of tea into the har­bour, an act which even­tu­ally led to the Amer­i­can revo­lu­tion and the colony’s in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain.

Since then, the ‘r’ word has be­come syn­ony­mous with this vi­brant east coast city from the var­i­ous revo­lu­tion-themed bars and cof­fee shops to the lo­cal ‘soc­cer’ team which is called, yes you guessed it, the New Eng­land Revo­lu­tion.

So it’s no sur­prise that this Mas­sachusetts pow­er­house should find it­self at the cen­tre of the latest revo­lu­tion to sweep Amer­ica, that of craft beer.

Bri­tain is rightly proud of its brew­ing her­itage and can lay claim to hav­ing shipped its ex­per­tise to many coun­tries, but in re­cent times the Amer­i­cans have taken our brew­ing know-how and crafted their own flavour-packed beers which have sent hop-lovers wild around the globe.

In fact, they’ve be­come so pop­u­lar that Bri­tish brew­ers are now tak­ing the Amer­i­cans’ know-how and de­vel­op­ing their own heav­ily-hopped ver­sions to ex­port back across the pond.

There are now around 3,500 brew­eries across the US while back in 1984 there were less than 100. This phe­nom­e­nal growth is mainly cen­tred around the east and west coast re­gions and many be­lieve the move­ment’s spir­i­tual home lies in New Eng­land, of which Bos­ton is the undis­puted dom­i­nant city.

So it’s fit­ting that each year Bos­ton plays host to a num­ber of beer fes­ti­vals, the big­gest of which is the Amer­i­can Craft Beer Fest, held each May at the Seaport World Trade Cen­tre.

This is a huge event with 140 dif­fer­ent brew­ers serv­ing up more than 640 dif­fer­ent beers. Make no mis­take, this is ma­jor league drink­ing and only the hardi­est should at­tempt the pil­grim­age.

The Amer­i­cans do fes­ti­vals dif­fer­ently from us, their ver­sion in­volves pay­ing a flat fee ($50 in this case or just more than £30) and then drink­ing as much as you like. How­ever, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Five-thou­sand peo­ple at­tend each of the three fes­ti­val ses­sions and you are al­lowed to sam­ple the beers in what amounts to a mea­sure equiv­a­lent to a dou­ble whisky and the queues at the more pop­u­lar brew­ers’ booths can stay long for the en­tire four-hour ses­sion (although you can al­ways send a mem­ber of your party to another booth to keep ‘hy­drated’ while you queue!).

The at­mos­phere is su­per-friendly and there’s lit­tle dan­ger of the beer run­ning out. We sam­pled brews rang­ing from 12% su­per IPAs (In­dia Pale Ales) down to del­i­cate cham­pagne-like Ber­liner Weisse, with Amer­i­can Am­ber Ales and smooth choco­latey porters and stouts to mix things up bit.

If you’re a craft beer geek like me then this is sim­ply heaven and a must-visit event. Just make sure you have a hearty break­fast and lunch be­fore you get there.

If beer’s not your thing then you needn’t worry, Bos­ton is packed with ac­tiv­i­ties to keep you amused from the won­der­fully roomy Bos­ton Com­mon in the heart of the city to the Free­dom Trail, which is ba­si­cally a red line built into the pave­ment which weaves its way around all the sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal sites, of which there are plenty.

And if shop­ping’s your thing then you couldn’t go wrong start­ing off at the Fa­neuil Hall Mar­ket­place. The Hall was once the ral­ly­ing point for re­sis­tance against the Bri­tish but it now fea­tures street per­form­ers of a dif­fer­ent kind against the back­drop of shops and stalls and the many var­ied eater­ies of Quincy Mar­ket.

And there are lots of choices of places to stay to suit each and ev­ery bud­get.

We chose the new bou­tique Ho­tel Nine Zero, a newly-ren­o­vated build­ing at one end of Bos­ton Com­mon. Its lo­ca­tion is sim­ply su­perb, si­t­u­ated right next to the Bos­ton sub­way sys­tem (known as the ‘T’).

Nine Zero is a mod­ern bou­tique style ho­tel and is cur­rently the talk of the town.

So much so that on a Fri­day night the lo­cal fash­ion­istas head in their droves to the ho­tel’s High­ball Lounge for the evening. If you don’t stay at the ho­tel and fancy a night here, make sure you drop in early as the queues can be lengthy.

If you do de­cide to stay at the Nine Zero then ex­pect to be spoilt. The ho­tel’s 190 rooms are all su­perbly ap­pointed and some have amaz­ing views over the Com­mon and the city’s im­pres­sive skyline. Lit­tle touches abound from free wi-fi to a com­pli­men­tary news­pa­per each morn­ing. The temp­ta­tion is to re­lax and en­joy the ho­tel’s many at­trac­tions but that would be re­miss given the won­ders a short walk out­side.

Af­ter all, once the sun’s over the yar­darm, then there are plenty of pubs and craft beers to ex­plore...

David Fox

●● The Bos­ton skyline and, be­low right, Bos­ton is one of the pow­er­houses of craft beer brew­ing

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