Salem’s Notch Brewing is coming to Boston.
The German- and Czech-inspired session beer maker announced today plans to open a second brewery, taproom and beer garden next summer in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood at the historic Charles River Speedway Headquarters.
“It’s kind of a return home to me — this is the place where I started my brewing career,” Notch founder Chris Lohring told Brewbound. “I never thought I’d go back to Boston, but I think the climate there is such that they’ve been really forward-thinking about helping small brewers and so I look forward to going back.”
Before starting Notch in 2010, Lohring co-founded Atlantic Coast Brewing, which made Tremont Ale, in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood. That brand was sold to Maine’s Shipyard Brewing in 2005. Notch started as a contract brand before putting down roots in Salem, Lohring’s hometown.
Notch’s second taproom location is a joint project with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Architectural Heritage Foundation, which “preserves historic buildings, structures and spaces through self-sustaining partnership activations,” according to a press release.
The Speedway, which opened in 1899, was home to harness horse racing until 1941, when the main building became a substation of the Boston Police Department. The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its renovation will include Notch’s 200-person taproom and 400-person beer garden, as well as a cafe, restaurant, office spaces for non-profit organizations and workspaces for artists and other craftspeople.
“We’re excited to join with Notch Brewing to create a brewery and taproom along the Charles River, where the community can experience the multifaceted offerings of the Speedway against a backdrop of the site’s fascinating history,” Architectural Heritage Foundation president Sean McDonnell said in the release.
Notch’s Brighton location will feature a seven-barrel brewhouse, where Lohring expects production to track similar to the company’s Salem headquarters, where a 10-barrel brewhouse produces about 2,000 barrels annually. The rest of Notch’s approximately 8,000 barrels of annual production is contract brewed at Two Roads Brewing Company in Connecticut.
Notch plans to incorporate the complex’s equestrian history into the taproom’s aesthetic, while maintaining Notch’s hallmark “traditional German continental service.”
The Brighton location will also have Czech side-pull faucets and German gravity casks in the taproom. The beer garden will resemble a traditional European beer garden, with communal tables, string lights and liter-sized beers.
“Looking at Brighton, I thought, ‘This could reflect a traditional beer garden,’” he said. “That was the reason why I pulled the trigger.”
“We’re in the old stables,” Lohring said “It’s going to be very airy. The taproom’s going to have a lot of openings. It’s going to feel like you’re outside even though you’re inside.”
Notch focuses on German- and Czech-inspired session beers, using all the traditional techniques and equipment — decoction mashing, open fermentation, and horizontal lagering tanks.
Lohring said Notch wasn’t actively seeking a second location when the project’s developers approached him. However, multiple taprooms have been a part of Lohring’s long-term plans. Notch declined to share project costs for the Brighton brewery and taproom, but Lohring said the project is being financed through a combination of further investment from Notch’s current investment group and bank loans.
“We’ve sold historically more beer in Cambridge, Somerville and in Boston than anywhere else, so the move to go to Brighton was an obvious one, because it’s not right on the doorstep of a lot of our accounts, but it’s close enough that we’re going to pull in the consumer, educate them on the beer, and they can go out in the world and buy our beer,” Lohring said.
Notch’s beer is distributed in eastern and central Massachusetts and parts of Maine, a footprint Lohring said he is not interested in expanding at this time.
“We focus on going deep, and I’m really happy with that strategy, because if you haven’t focused on going deep in the last three years, you could be in trouble,” he said.