John Harvard’s Ale House closed in Harvard Square at the end of May, ending the neighborhood bar’s storied 27-year run. But the space, located in the basement of The Garage mall, won’t be vacant for much longer: On Monday, Westminster-based Wachusett Brewing Co. announced that it will open a taproom in the former restaurant in the fall.
“We’ve been in Boston for the last two-and-a-half years with [The Patios at City Hall Plaza] popup, and we’ve always held a desire to find a longterm home,” Christian McMahan, president of Wachusett Brewing Co., told Boston.com. “I would say that in the last two-to-three years, the taproom/beer garden [concept] has been the most sought after by developers and towns. We’ve been flooded with opportunities for the last 24 months.”
McMahan said that both he and Ned LaFortune, Wachusett’s CEO and founder, used to frequent John Harvard’s when they lived in the area, and that when he heard of its closing, he immediately reached out.
“The space is iconic,” McMahan said.
At the Cambridge location, Wachusett will be able to take advantage of John Harvard’s 15-barrel brewing system, which the former brewpub used for production until 2015. While the majority of the company’s beer, including its award-winning Blueberry Ale, will continue to be produced at its Westminster headquarters, the Cambridge brewery will be used for small-batch, experimental productions, and will offer 16 rotating beers on tap.
“Our goal is to do some really unique and different offerings,” McMahan said. “We’ve talked about doing a sour beer program and other unique beers that we may not produce at the [large] batch level here [in Westminster].”
In addition to experimental beers, Wachusett will offer shareable plates that guests can enjoy while hanging out and drinking. Creative flatbreads are on the menu, McMahan said, and will be designed to best complement the beer.
“Our food [in Westminster] has become a big part of who we are,” he said. “And beer is communal. It’s best when people can gather around a table and talk beer and share food.”
This will be the third taproom for the brewery, which also recently announced that it will open a taproom at the Worcester Public Market this fall. McMahan said that both locations are going through “all the bells and whistles” that come with opening a new space, and that they are both on schedule to open in September or October.