By Michael Coughlin Jr.
A somber day is approaching for those who like to enjoy a beer in Jamaica Plain at Turtle Swamp Brewing as it will close its doors on August 19, or when the beer runs out, according to the business’s website.
Turtle Swamp Brewing was Co-Founded by John Lincecum, a veteran in the field of biotechnology, and Nik Walther, who has been a professional brewer since 2008 and has been making and serving brews at the site of its taproom and production brewery on Washington Street in Jamaica Plain since 2017.
However, after six years in the community, Lincecum cited the density of “the critical construction products” in the area that he said “have to be built” as a contributing factor to the closure. “The world moved on, and it’s time for us to move on too.”
Although Lincecum talked about construction on Washington Street, indicating how it made it difficult for patrons to come out to the brewery, he said, “We have to do this as a society, and you know, do we need this more than we need a brewery? Yeah, we do.”
It should be noted that Turtle Swamp found itself amidst controversy a few years ago concerning a legal battle with a proposed affordable senior housing project abutting the property, which led to protests outside the business in 2021.
The legal dispute was settled last year and included the proposed project moving back its wall, eliminating some courtyard space, per a story about a Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Housing & Development Committee meeting published in the Gazette last June.
Yet even with past controversy, the brewery has a strong base of supporters. Since the announcement of the closure, Turtle Swamp has seen well wishes on its social media accounts, such as Instagram and Facebook, outlining what the business meant to those who loved it.
Turtle Swamp allowed patrons to enjoy several different beers, such as its Orange Line New England IPA and its JP Porter, whether it was at the taproom or its old beer garden at the Roslindale Substation, which was closed due to the effects of COVID in 2021.
However, Turtle Swamp Brewing seemingly was not just about beer; it was an establishment for the community to come together and have a good time. Lincecum described it as “That third place that people could bring their families and, in the past six months, even their dogs.”
Over the years, Turtle Swamp has had local plays, local bands, and artists come in, held special events such as Friendsgiving, and even had yoga, amongst many other functions.
Not only did the brewery have all sorts of events and programming, but they had partnered with local businesses like Blue Frog Bakery, ran a farmers market with Buckle Farm, which is based out of Maine, and even held fundraisers for organizations like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Looking back at Turtle Swamp, Lincecum spoke about the accomplishments he and Walther shared, indicating that the duo got exactly what they wanted.
“We did something in our neighborhood that for a shining six years made this neighborhood better,” said Lincecum.
While the brewery’s closing obviously comes with sadness for Lincecum, there are plans for a big event on August 19 to go out with a bang. “It’ll be a big fun blowout, come on out,” said Lincecum. “We will have some beer,” he added with a laugh.
“On Saturday the 19th, we’re going to have a hell of a party — rain or shine.”
As for what could be next for the Washington Street location, Lincecum spoke about how he hopes to see another brewery and taproom come in, a community space, or even a production or manufacturing space at the property.
Moreover, in what could be a hint as to what is next for Turtle Swamp Brewing, those who enjoy the brewery’s beers might not have to say goodbye forever but, instead, see you later.
“You might find your Orange Line, your JP Porter around Christmas time; it won’t be this Christmas but get back to me, all you lovers of Orange Line New England IPA and JP Porter,” said Lincecum.
“I got good friends who are dying to make the beer for us and to bring it back out. Will the brand live? Maybe,” he added.
As Turtle Swamp Brewing’s closure creeps closer, Lincecum was beyond grateful for everybody who believed in the business, and he specifically mentioned “Bob Nelson at the SBA” and “all the good people at Eastern.”
Further, in a statement on Turtle Swamp’s website, both Lincecum and Walther encouraged everyone to come out and visit one more time to share memories and “raise a glass in a celebration of life and change.”
Also, if you want to relive some of your favorite memories from the brewery, there will be photos posted on Turtle Swamp’s Instagram — turtleswampbrewing — weekly.
An emotional Lincecum said, “We loved being part of this community. I wouldn’t change it for the world.” Later speaking about those who have come out and supported the brewery over the years, he said, “Thanks for the memories, and don’t forget about Drawdown and Distraction and Sam Adams.”