The custom concrete bar at Slumbrew’s new Boynton Yards American Fresh Brewery and Taproom in Somerville is studded with 192 stars. Each star represents one special person in the “Slumbassador” galaxy who helped Somerville Brewing Company co-owners Caitlin Jewell and Jeff Leiter get their dream of building their own brewery off the ground. Like, literally, off the ground. They built the place, from the ground up, with their own hands and the help of nearly two hundred other folks over the course of the multi-year project, which transformed an empty warehouse into an open, airy, light-filled space in which to brew and serve amazing beers accompanied by delicious local foods.
Ask any beer enthusiast and they’re bound to have tasted (and loved) something from Slumbrew’s repertoire. For years, Jeff was an active home brewer who enjoyed experimenting with seasonal ingredients and different methods with the same goal in mind: to make beers that he and Caitlin loved to drink. One of their most popular beers, Happy Sol, started out as Caitlin’s annual Valentine’s Day treat, which she had to beg Jeff to produce for public consumption. Afraid the blood orange hefeweizen wouldn’t appeal to a wide variety of beer drinkers, Jeff could not have been happier to be proven wrong by Happy Sol’s tremendous success. I’ll admit it’s the first pour I asked for when I had a seat at their bar!
The reality of what Slumbrew was and could become was really brought home for Caitlin in one humbling moment atop a hill on a hot day in California. They had been instructed to climb this hill by the farmer they were meeting with to procure a steady supply of blood oranges (one batch of Happy Sol requires the juice of 1,000 fruits!). Caitlin and Jeff, with a Slumbaby in tow, exhausted, sticky, and a little cranky, asked which trees were theirs. The farmer indicated that all the trees were theirs. As far as the eye could see, every single fruit would end up intheir beer. Pretty cool, right?
The philosophy of the American Fresh brand is to serve food and beer that are worthy of each other in quality and flavor, and local whenever possible. This is not your daddy’s brewpub! No burgers, no fries, and hold the side of heartburn please! Caitlin and Jeff put so much careful consideration into their brews, but with the variables involved in distributing beer for mass consumption, including how it is stored and shipped once it leaves their loving hands, they don’t have as much control as they might like to of what their consumers end up drinking. Their family-friendly attitude, eye for quality, and passion for great food and beer come together to engineer a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable experience for their fans. When you’re enjoying a cold one, wouldn’t you rather it be accompanied by a charcuterie board packed with top-notch artisanal meats, cheeses, jam and Taza Chocolate, chosen just for you, than an order of restaurant supply chicken fingers straight from the freezer bag? Whenever possible, wouldn’t you prefer a Porter Square Porter braised pork sandwich with Happy Sol barbeque sauce to a side of plastic-flavored mozzarella sticks whose only redeeming quality is that they come with salty marinara to cover up the crime against cuisine they really are? I know I would, and as Caitlin, Jeff, and their team of Slumbassadors are demonstrating at their TWO Somerville locations (Boynton Yards Taproom and Brewery, and their outdoor Beer Garden at Assembly Row) lots of others would, too!
While beer for distribution will still be made at Mercury Brewing Company in Ipswich, with the addition of the Brewery and Taproom Caitlin and Jeff finally have the one thing their brand has been lacking: a place to stretch its legs, call home, and get comfortable. Some of Jeff’s most lovable brews started at home, in his spare time, when he was relaxed and focused on what he loves: beer and his family. Excited to experiment with sours, a barrel program, and a whole new way to interface with loyal fans of the brand, it’s safe to say the Slumbrew family is about to get a whole lot bigger, and the best is yet to come.