The War On Boston’s Beer Gardens

Pop-up beer gardens have been flourishing in Boston. But now the restaurant lobby is working with politicians to put the squeeze on them…

Here’s the deal…

In 2017, when Boston’s Greenway Conservancy tapped Trillium Brewing to operate a new open-air beer garden in the heart of downtown Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway Park, it was a huge hit.

That led to the brewery taking its pop-up beer garden concept six miles south to the village of Roslindale and opening a winter beer garden later that year in an iconic substation structure.

Then the whole pop-up beer garden concept caught fire throughout Boston with lots of craft breweries getting involved.

Last summer Nantucket-based Cisco Brewers launched its new pop-up beer garden in Boston’s colorful Seaport district.  Castle Island Brewing opened a seasonal outdoor location in Charlestown and Everett’s Night Shift Brewing also opened two Owl’s Nest beer gardens on the Charles River.

Trillium beer garden in Greenway

But now local beer biz is buzzing about a bill filed on behalf of the restaurant industry to crack down on beer gardens and put an end  to the one-day licensing process that have allowed these pop-up beer gardens to get around the burdens that other brick-and-mortar establishments have to deal with.

Current law allows brewers to operate the temporary beer gardens using a one-day license specifying a particular day,

Noting that brewers have found a way to extend their stay, the Boston Globe is reporting that a new bill has been proposed to put an end to end to a practice that allowed these temporary beer gardens to operate for months…

 “Existing state law prevents applicants from obtaining more than 30 of these one-day licenses; brewers can get around this by having more than one applicant pick up licenses on their behalf.”

“State Senators Ed Kennedy of Lowell and Nick Collins of South Boston have cosponsored a bill that would bar any individual or company from getting more than 14 one-day licenses in a given year.”

According to the Globe “figures provided by City Hall show that the number of one-day licenses issued in Boston specifically for beer gardens doubled in 2018, rising to 82 last year from 39 in the previous year.”

And if this bill passes it will definitely make these seasonal beer gardens a more difficult and expensive endeavor, potentially putting an end to what some are now calling “America’s Beer Garden Capital.”

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