Two local residents are hearkening back to Jamaica Plain’s past and are opening up a brewery in the neighborhood called Turtle Swamp Brewing at 3377 Washington St.
When the Gazette asked Nicholas Walther, who is co-owner of the brewery with John Lincecum, what prompted them to start the venture in JP, he kidded, “Insanity. And a few pints.”
“We also both live in JP, only a few blocks away from the brewery,” he said. “Once we had the idea of a brewery in the area, it just made sense. Boston has a rapidly growing craft beer scene, but mostly located outside of the city proper. We felt it was both a good idea and a good time to open up an urban brewery in Boston, and in JP specifically, to take advantage of the things the city and neighborhood bring: A great, diverse, and sizable population, very close proximity to the Orange Line and transit alternatives (the Southwest Corridor, buses going up and down Washington and Centre Streets, and even people walking in the neighborhood).”
Walther said that the name for the brewery comes from the low-lying, formerly marshy area between Forest Hills and Jackson Square that was known as “Turtle Swamp.”
“It was the collecting point for all for all of the streams and creeks flowing off the Roxbury Puddingstone highlands in the area, the largest and most notable being the Stony Brook, which starts in the Stony Brook Reservation at what is still called Turtle Pond, flowed through the middle of Turtle Swamp, and then emptied into the Muddy River just north of where the [Museum of Fine Arts] now stands,” he said.
Walther said that swamps are “natural biological filters” and that all of the water flowing through the brook would have been “crystal clear.”
“Good, clean running water is also ideal, historically (and today) for making beer, which is one reason why Jamaica Plain and the lower parts of Mission Hill once had at least 28 breweries, almost all of them somewhere along the banks of the Stony Brook or close by,” he said. “We felt we are only hearkening back to the historical days of Jamaica Plain as the original home of brewing in New England and America.”
Walther said he has been a professional brewer for more than nine years, most recently having worked at Harpoon Brewery, while Lincecum has been a biochemist for more than 20 years and has spent some of his off-work time homebrewing.
“It has also been extraordinary helpful that John’s brother has opened a very successful brewery in Seattle–the Fremont Brewery–and has been consulting us through this process,” said Walther. “We both have been working full-time to start up the brewery for a little more than a year, and had been kicking the idea around and doing preliminary work on it for at least another year before that.”
The brewery has had several soft openings, but Walther said they plan to have a grand opening sometime this summer when the construction of the taproom and patio are finished. They are also in the process of obtaining their pouring permit, which means they are currently limited to selling beer to be consumed off-site.
“Our brewery license also allows us to distribute our beer to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores and we hope to begin doing that in June,” said Walther.
Asked what selection the brewery has, he replied, “We are starting out with five beers: Nik’s Bitter (But Never Angry), an American Style Bitter; JP Porter, a very drinkable, robust, but slightly lighter porter; Toll Gate IPA, our take on the New England IPA style; Serendipitous Paler Ale, a hoppy lighter ale; and All Ears Golden Ale, a 100 percent Massachusetts ingredient blonde ale, with a touch of Massachusetts grown and malted corn from Valley Malts in Hadley, MA.”
For more information, visit turtleswampbrewing.com.