Following Setback, Castle Island to Open Beer Garden Along Boston Harbor

After being forced to abandon plans for a seasonal beer garden near downtown Boston, Castle Island Brewing today announced it would open a pop-up on Constitution Wharf in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston.

The new 6,000 sq. ft. space — located in a parking lot overlooking Boston Harbor — is situated across from the USS Constitution and slated to open Sunday, August 5.

“We’re pretty optimistic on the foot traffic side of the equation,” Castle Island founder Adam Romanow told Brewbound. “We’re going for a 300-person capacity. Hopefully if we can turn that over a couple of times a day, and everyone has a pint or two — you can do that math on that one.”

A move toward outdoor drinking establishments in Boston kicked off in 2017, when popular hazy IPA maker Trillium Brewing drew thousands of weekly visitors to a beer garden near downtown. This year, several other Massachusetts-based alcoholic beverage companies — including Wachusett, Aeronaut, Notch, Downeast Cider and Lamplighter as well as specialty beer wholesaler Craft Collective — followed suit with their own outdoor serving spaces, located across the city and the state. And earlier this week, Night Shift Brewing launched the “Owl’s Nest” on Boston’s Esplanade, which overlooks the Charles River.

The Norwood-based Castle Island was set to be among the list of Boston-area breweries with outdoor beer gardens. In April, the company announced that it had signed a multi-year partnership with real estate firm National Development for a satellite location, called Underground at Ink Block, located in between Boston’s South End and South Boston neighborhoods. However, those plans were derailed when the Boston Police Department refused to grant approval of the company’s plans, citing safety concerns.

Romanow declined to speculate on the amount of sales that were lost due to the delayed opening, but he said the company was “99 percent ready” to open at the Ink Block location. Beer had already been brewed, equipment had already been purchased, and staff was already in place, he said.

“And that all got put on hold when we were told the license wasn’t going to come through,” he said. “It created a scenario where we were essentially ready to start a separate business and then hit the brakes.”

So Castle Island packed up a 20-tap draft trailer, which was already setup on the original Ink Block site, and relocated it to Constitution Wharf. The company plans to serve between eight and 12 offerings from its core lineup as well as specialty releases. It also plans to offer wine options for non-beer drinkers.

Castle Island is also still committed to repurchasing its own beer from Burke Distributing, its wholesaler in Boston, even though it could have self-distributed.

“They’ve been an awesome partner for us, and we want to make sure that we honor the original terms of what we settled for,” Romanow said. “A lot of the beer is brewed and ready to go, and some of it is even sitting in the warehouse. It’s going to be the easiest way for us to get the beer up to the site.”

The Castle Island beer garden will operate Thursday through Sunday until the end of October.

As for Ink Block, Romanow hasn’t given up hope of opening a beer garden in space next year.

“It’s dead for this year, but not dead for good,” he said. “We certainly have every intention of going back and having another discussion with the city’s public safety officials to try to make that happen.

“Hopefully August to May of the following year is a long enough time to get something done,” he added.

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