BrewReview: Start Line Brewing Company
Updated: May 29, 2020
By: Tim Corcoran Jr.
Start Line Brewing Company - Hopkinton, MA.
BeerSeekers on the Job: Tim & Senior
The Boston Marathon is known internationally as one of the largest and most prestigious races in the entire world. Marathons in general are more than extreme tests of athletic ability. They’re also about perseverance, will and determination. And while everyone knows it as the BOSTON Marathon, it actually starts in a small town outside city limits called Hopkinton - roughly 26.2 miles from the finish line.
Fittingly, that’s where Start Line Brewing Company gets its name. Those same characteristics that runners who compete in the Boston Marathon share go into this brewery’s DNA as well. So whether you’re here for the race or for some pints, there’s no better place to start the journey than Start Line.
Truthfully, this was not the first time we’ve visited Start Line since it first opened in 2016. However it was the first time we had been since its total remodel in July of 2019. The original version was a small taproom and bar area that was connected to a farm stand/country store that sold produce hydroponically grown on-site. While this setup was very welcoming and unique, it was clear that Start Line was destined to expand. The newer version continues to sell products from its Water Fresh Farm location while still embracing the demand for a high-quality craft brewery experience that’s sweeping through the greater Boston area.
The taproom incorporates the farm stand theme, utilizing wood beams for bar tops and tables all finished to appear as though they have not been altered in any way. Almost all the food offerings they have are grown on-site or are raised in their natural setting, too.
Aside from the beer, the best part of the updated brewery is the space. The old taproom has been turned into a private function room, and when empty has board games and other activities to enjoy while you work your way through the beer menu. The main bar area is wide open with a large bar and tons of seating and a separate place to order food. There’s also an outdoorsy space for when it’s warm out!
Upon our visit there were 14 different beer offerings on the menu, and we were able to try them all. The menu offers a variety of styles and preferences with a tremendous selection of cans (or even a growler!) to bring home.
Start Line remains true to its roots, as all the hops are grown hydroponically and on-site, amplifying the freshness and crispness of each beer. During this trip, Start Line had 10 regular offerings along with four seasonal (winter) pours. Seeing as the winter months in New England appear to be winding down, we were sure to try the winter beers so that we could experience the full range of offerings as well as have new beers to sample when we undoubtedly return during another season’s rotation. The Start Line menu has a strong lineup for all BeerSeekers!
Hazelnut Cold Brewed Coffee Stout - 6% ABV
I like stouts, but I don’t get wild with them. Give me the basic stout that is clean, smooth and creamy without much added to it. No coffee (as a teacher that’s saying something), and definitely no hazelnut. But let me tell you something: this one hit me differently.
After working through several different types of beers, this was one we expected to finish a little heavy. That was absolutely not the case. This stout was extremely drinkable, and we would even call it light! The flavors of coffee, nuts, dark chocolate and hazelnut were all blended together into an ultra-satisfying blend where each ingredient complemented each other, preventing one from becoming overwhelming. This stout turned us skeptics into big fans, and we completely understand why this stout is a regular on the menu!
Craic Irish Red Ale - 4.8% ABV
Described as a “smooth and very drinkable beer designed to complement all the fun...Mild and delicious.” I‘m not really sure how to say it better than that. But here goes:
Each brewery we go to seems to have its own take on a golden ale or an IPA, but not every one features an Irish Red. The uniqueness of this offering along with feeling increasingly more Irish as we move closer to March 17th was the initial draw to the beer, and after that it was its supreme drinkability combined with a perfect blend of flavors. The taste of this beer was not overwhelming in any ingredient, which when reading through the tasting notes is exactly what the brewers at Start Line were going for. If we weren’t there on a mission to sample the beers this particular visit, I likely would not have switched to anything besides this.
If you are looking for a beer to drink throughout your time at Start Line while taking in all the taproom has to offer, we see no reason to look beyond this one. It is safe to say that Start Line’s Craic Irish Red has set a high standard for Irish Reds we may come across at future breweries. And not for nothing, the color and look of it in their Start Line Brewing glasses couldn’t be any more picturesque.
Juggler Double IPA - 8.4% ABV
Brewed & dry hopped with Grungeist & Hallertau Blanc
Notes of Passion Fruit
White wine and gooseberry
When I ordered this beer, it came with a warning from the bartender: “Be careful, this isn’t your typical IPA. The ingredients, the German-style hops, and the way it’s brewed result in smaller champagne-like bubbles, making it drink like champagne and go down like a Coors Light. I call it the beer of bad decisions.” Yikes.
While most beers with an 8.4% ABV would come with a bite or some harsh bitterness, this one did not, and before you know it you’ve had too many. The information the bartender shared with me was pretty spot-on. Despite being classified as an IPA, the Juggler welcomes all tastes, and I believe that anyone who enjoys craft beer could find themselves drinking this. Between the low-profile carbonation and light taste of this beer, this one is absolutely worth a try.
The Boston Marathon (whether you’ve competed in it or merely spectated) is a major source of local pride, as we know having grown up in the Boston area, and Start Line Brewing Company incorporates this to perfection. The location in Hopkinton is very unassuming, and unless you know where you are going, you might pass it by thinking you are rolling by a farm.
Once you head inside, though, you know it’s something special. Be sure to revel in the significance of where it all begins for the greatest runners competing in the greatest marathon in the world.
We will be sure to come back when the temps rise to enjoy the new seasonal beers and Start Line’s outdoor entertainment. Until then, give them a visit online, check them out on social media or make the trip a little more than 26.2 miles outside of Boston to experience it yourself!