Northshore Magazine

Northshore November 2019

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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Page 27 of 123

NORTHSHOREMAG.COM 26 NOVEMBER 2019 E AT + D R I N K CONTACT spirit presented a significant hurdle; while Garry and Sullivan were hunting for the right space for the brewery, nearby towns like Danvers and Peabody kept coming up as recommended locales. But Old Planters wouldn't be Old Planters anywhere other than Beverly; a townie brewery established in a town other than the one it's meant to honor isn't really a townie brewery at all. "We're really tied to being in Beverly, and we wanted to bring a place that people can come to in our hometown," notes Sullivan. "It meant a lot for us to be here." Setting up shop outside the city limits would have intrinsically altered Old Planters' identity. Everything down to the beer names is either a nod to or an inside joke about Beverly: Little Misery, Thousand Acre IPA, Tommy John, O.P.P. (a reference to the classic "Naughty by Nature" song that here stands for Old Planters Pilsner), and even Rhino Tears. Most of all, there's the brewery name itself: The Old Planters were the town's founders—the original Beverly townies— who had the idea to start up a farming community on Massachusetts's North Shore in the 1630s. For their troubles, they each received 200 acres of land, known as the thousand-acre grant (hence the name of that previously mentioned IPA). Put simply, Old Planters has Beverly written in its DNA. For Garry and Sullivan, watching the brewery's locality pay off has so far proven as surprising as it is gratifying. Feedback from patrons is positive, but many of the faces they see around the space are unfamiliar. "I just thought a lot of our friends would be down here," Garry says, "and some nights I look out here and I'd say it's 80 percent of people I don't know, and maybe 15 percent I do." Their friends drop in and hang out, but strangers— who, as the old adage goes, are just friends waiting to happen—compose the bulk of customers. The guys know that's a good thing. "If every time we came here, we knew most of the people, I think we'd be a little bit nervous," Sullivan points out. "There are a lot of faces that we don't know, or who might know who we are, who come here because this area is up-and-coming." And he's right—stroll around Rantoul and you'll find apartments and mixed-use sites under development as folks both local to Beverly and from out of town enjoy what the place has to offer, including coffee shops, board game cafes, and restaurants. Branding Old Planters as Beverly's townie brewery is one checkmark. Distinguishing their beer from other craft breweries, native or otherwise, is another. Garry and Sullivan stick to a pretty straightforward philosophy: Keep the beer fun. "I think beer culture has kind of left that a little bit," Garry notes. "We don't need to always wonder, how many IBUs [International Bitterness Units] does this have, and what was the original gravity." There's a time and place for nerding out over beer chemistry; digging into the science of the world's greatest alcoholic beverage is a The new taproom displays brews on tap. pleasure when the occasion calls for it. But socializing with friends is the main focus here, so Old Planters sticks to fundamentals. They're open to experimentation, of course. Their Mexican-style lager, El Milagro, is brewed with actual corn tortillas; they've also recently collaborated with Wandering Soul, yet another Beverly-based brewery, on an orange creamsicle ale. "We were all thinking about what beer we want to do," Garry says. "We all said, 'Let's not phone it in and do a New England IPA. We know we could do it, and it'd sell, but let's branch out.'" Sullivan and Garry describe the beer, which includes vanilla and sweet orange peel, as "a stretch" for them. But for the most part, Old Planters' aim is brewing familiar beer that falls into people's comfort zone; no one wants to turn away a potential customer by presenting them with brews that sound too out of their depth. "Even if you don't want to go off your branch and try something new, at least you can have something they know," Garry says. "I just don't want people to feel intimidated." In fact, brewing intimidating beers would go against the Old Planters mission: welcoming their patrons to the neighborhood.

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