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Beer Advocate: Q&A with Trillium Brewing, Boston's Newest Brewery

Originally appeared here

By Jason and Todd Alstrom | 13 February 2013

Despite Boston’s diverse beer scene, the city proper has hosted only three production breweries since 1986: Harpoon Brewery (1986), Samuel Adams (Jamaica Plain R&D brewery, 1988), and Tremont Brewery (Charlestown, 1993; closed). Soon, we’ll have another: Trillium Brewing, at 369 Congress Street in Fort Point.

For over two years, Trillium founders Jean-Claude (JC) Tetreault and his wife Esther have been homebrewing, incubating their dream of going pro at Greentown Labs (, gathering equipment, procuring a location, and incorporating their vision into brick and mortar. Though much of the design, space, and equipment is based on reclaimed materials, the ideas they bring to Boston’s beer scene are fresh. Think “farmhouse brewery in a major city.”

We recently had a chance to visit Trillium, where we talked to JC about his new venture — and sampled six of his beers. Let’s just say we can’t wait to try more. In the future, expect 100 percent New England beers, with core offerings, some using wild yeast and bacteria from the region, as well as limited-run beers. As for when Trillium will be open to the public, the word is “soon.” They’re in the final stages of inspection with the city and expect to be brewing immediately after.

But rather than tell his story for him, we’ll let JC take it from here.

Why Fort Point? Were there any hurdles? We really looked all over the Greater Boston market, but due to the diligence of our real-estate agent, we uncovered this little spot, which just happened to be in one of the most exciting neighborhoods in Boston in terms of both an enduring arts community as well as economic revitalization. It was an incredibly rough space, and we had to hack and scratch out a brewery in there. When we signed the lease two years ago, the promises of the development to come were attractive, but we never could have imagined being so immersed in the burgeoning residential, business, culinary, and arts community.

For all the positives of being part of focused neighborhood development, there were almost as many challenges associated. We had to go through a lengthy rezoning and facade/design review process and — given the other development going on in Fort Point — there were additional unexpected delays, such as the need for new natural gas pipes down in the alley behind our building.

What makes Trillium different? I think this may come across as a bit vague, but our beers are what we envision might have been made today, if a centuries-old beer culture had naturally evolved in New England. We take inspiration from artisan ingredients and practices and apply what is now known about brewing world-class beers.

Initial brewing capacity and distribution? We have a 10 bbl brewhouse and a 1.5 bbl pilot system. We’ll do this all in a less-than-ideal space for a brewery, with low ceiling clearances and big concrete mushroom columns throughout the production area. We’ll get additional cellar capacity as soon as we can, but I’m not giving up our wood cooperage for stainless. We have the attached retail space for growler fills and bottles, but otherwise will self-distribute to a small number of ultra-local accounts.

What beers will launch Trillium? We expect to have four year-round beers and sour/wild beers from our barrel program once that matures, but we’re going to launch with a single beer. That will be our expected flagship Trillium, a pale farmhouse ale. [Bros: We rated this beer a 95.]

Can people take a tour? Taste beers? Grab beers to go? We have the retail room open to the public where people can buy growlers and bottles to go. We’re still working with the city to be able to do tastings, but unfortunately those details haven’t been completely worked out yet.