By: Jenna Banning
It’s easy to focus on the history of Mayflower Brewing Company. Without any doubt, their story goes deep into American history: In 1620, a group of travelers landed on the shores of the New World in search of a better life, religious freedoms, and a good place to farm and make their beer The person responsible for the Pilgrim’s beer was a man named John Alden, and today, ten generations later, his descendent is back in Plymouth, using the same water source, to make beer again for the community.
For a nerd and food lover like me, learning that my hometown was essentially founded because the Pilgrims were running out of beer is both wicked interesting and slightly amusing. The Pilgrims had been hoping to settle further south, but in the words of William Bradford, “We could not take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer.”
That quote is what greets visitors to Mayflower Brewing Company’s website, and as I originally began planning this article, I had thought to focus on that history. But after visiting Mayflower Brewing Company, I realized that there is so much more to the South Shore’s local brewery today.
I got a bit of a special tour, (perks for working with edible South Shore!) but visitors are always welcome to the company’s headquarters on 12 Resnik Road in Plymouth. The store is open Tuesday – Friday from 12-6 and Saturday from 11 – 3, with tastings on Thursdays and Fridays from 4 – 6 and on Saturdays from 11 – 3. You can also get an up-close look at how the brewery operates from 11 – 3 on Saturdays, where staff will take you through the entire process of making their beer.
It’s a small staff, but each of them really knows their stuff. At the top is Drew Brosseau, founder and president of Mayflower Brewing Company, as well as descendant of the afore-mentioned John Alden. Back in 2007, when establishing the company, Drew decided that he wanted to build a “solid business from the ground up.” That means no shortcuts, no rushing, and no middlemen. Again, I could get into their history here, noting Mayflower’s measured, steady growth in production and popularity, or mentioning how Drew went through the American Brewer’s Guild to make sure that he understood every aspect of the business. But again, while this history is impressive…I’d rather focus on what Mayflower Brewing Company is up to today. Beer from the South Shore’s only local brewery is now being served across the state and New England. Staff at the brewery is growing – four more people joined the family just this year – and while their beers are gaining international acclaim, Mayflower Brewing Company is just as proud of their local following.
“You feel like you’re in amongst friends,” remarked Sarah, Mayflower’s Retail Manager, describing the atmosphere of the brewery. Certainly Mayflower’s free tours and tastings draw in the out-of-towners who’ve had Mayflower’s beers elsewhere, and now want to try it at its source. But visiting Mayflower is hardly an anonymous experience – first-timers to the brewery are likely to be greeted by Otto, the Head Brewmaster’s dog, and joined by a large group of locals who come in regularly to refill their Growlers. The warm and friendly tasting room was enhanced by one of Mayflower’s regulars, who, in return for beer, built the brewery four gorgeous woodcarvings for each of their four regular brews. (Not a bad trade!)
Mayflower rotates through different seasonal brews (currently the Summer Rye Ale), and will occasionally offer something in their “Cooper Series” – a one-off batch of whatever the brewers felt like trying. For their four regular beers served year-round, Mayflower harks back to the “British-style” of beers, such as the Pilgrims would have enjoyed. This is possibly most noticeable in their popular IPA (more balanced in its hops and mash used, instead of the “American” style, which focuses more on the hops up-front). I took home some of their flagship beer, the Pale Ale, which was the first brew that Mayflower produced. There’s also the Porter, which won second-place in the Great British Beer Festival, as well as their Golden Ale, a nice lighter beer, best for those who are trying craft beer for the first time. (Honestly, all of them are good!) Touring through the brewery, you get to see and learn about each step in the two-week process of making Mayflower’s beers, and Sarah and the other staff are more than willing to answer any questions you have.
If you live in Plymouth, you’re surrounded by history, and as I learned, this is even true at our local brewery: The same “sweet brook” used by the Pilgrims to brew their ales is still being used today by a descendant of the Pilgrims, to make beers like the Pilgrims would have drank. But as you tour the brewery and get to know Mayflower Brewing Company better, you see that this company is both rooted in its history and looking to its future: two new 100 barrel tanks were just added to the facility, and Drew, the founder, expressed to me his vision of making Massachusetts known as the home of great local beers.
Impressive history, inspiring future…why don’t you go check out Mayflower Brewing Company for yourself today?
Jenna Banning is interning with edible South Shore for the spring and summer of 2013, before she heads up to the University of Vermont to earn her master’s degree. When not working at Bayside Runner or managing the edible South Shore blog, you can find Jenna chronicling her travels in sustainable food systems across the United States at EATY0URVEGGIES.