Local Neighborhood Hopsters: Boston’s Trillium Brewing Company

BY MELISSA POCEK // PHOTOS BY PORTER GIFFORD

Jean-Claude Tetreault of Trillium Brewing found himself crafting beers in any spare time that his busy married life and full-time career working on medical devices would allow. Since he married a pretty awesome wife, of course she supported it. So much so that JC was quick to learn how to make fantastic flavorful beer for their wedding (the perfect occasion for an inaugural toast).

From there, the now father of two quit his job and opened up the doors to one of Boston’s most popular microbreweries. (Sidenote: Trillium is across the street from the Zipcar Home Office, so we can attest to its greatness.)

With a focus on fostering community and supporting artisans, JC and his wife were able to turn a passion for creating killer brew into a successful career and a local favorite. JC spoke to Zipcar about his story.

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From malt selection to taste tests, Jean-Claude Tetreault is involved in every step of Trillium’s brewing process.

Zipcar: Could you tell us about how you got your brewery started?

JC: I was a home brewer for about nine years. I really enjoyed starting a brand around this. The place where my wife and I married was started by a husband and wife team and we were really inspired by that, but didn’t want to wait until retirement and wait for decades before we started to realize our dreams. We built as big of a brewery as we could afford and got it off the ground. We opened our doors in a little over a year.

Where did your passion for beer come from?

Beer is woven into the social fabric of everywhere you go and the culture behind many places. To me, nothing could be more cool than going into the local bottle shop and looking at the whole world of beers from the UK to Germany to Belgium to France (not to mention the U.S.), trying each of them, and learning where they originally came from and why you get unique flavors from the different regions.

What was the first beer you ever made?

I’ve always been someone who liked to bake his own bread and make things from scratch. I was given a winemaking kit as a gift and converted it into a beer brewing kit. An oatmeal stout was the first beer I ever brewed. It was from a basic recipe kit, and I kept reading and doing all kinds of research and fell into the rabbit hole.

Employee Zach Farrell keeps his eye on the mash and checks the sugar content using a refractometer. (Fancy!)

Employee Zach Farrell keeps his eye on the mash and checks the sugar content using a refractometer. (Fancy!)

What role does your wife play with the brewery?

You absolutely have to be a team with these kinds of things, and support each other and help each other out when the other is having a tough time. There are a few guys who are doing the brewery thing by themselves, but man, you need a lot of help from family, friends, and those who love beer because it would be a ton of work to do it by yourself.

Is there a particular style of brewing that you do? What’s the latest variety on tap?

We call ourselves an American-style farmhouse brewery. We push out on all kinds of borders of that, as well. Our Pot & Kettle (oatmeal porter) is definitely a more British style of beer, and same with the Trillium (our flagship farmhouse ale), which is more of a French countryside beer.

Since it is super warm out, we have a beer we just brewed and packaged this spring that’s called Sprang. It’s a super fresh, cold fermented ale and we added a very unique hop. It’s crisp and really dry, but has a great sweetness and a Concord grape and piney citrus character, as well. There’s no other hop like it.

Trillium’s rapid growth means frequent Zipcar truck trips to store popular growlers and kegs off-site.

Trillium’s rapid growth means frequent Zipcar truck trips to store popular growlers and kegs off-site.

How has opening a brewery in one of the most popular and artsy neighborhoods in Boston brought together the community?

When you open a brewery, you need a lot of support in the community just to be able to open. We wanted to make sure we had that kind of outreach before we got seriously and financially involved. Before we opened, we had a pilot at Greentown Labs, which is a green technology incubator. Then we got connected with FPAC (Fort Point Art Community) and they couldn’t have been more welcoming. They connected us with an architectural salvage project going on here and we worked with them to have them make our counter, which is a beam from an old building, and the windows are from the building, too. We also work with a local Southie artist, who designed our tap handles, which are refurbished, as well.

How do you use Zipcar trucks in your business?

Since we are such a rapidly growing company, we have quickly run out of storage space here. We didn’t know we would need about three times as much space as we have, so we have an off-site storage space where we store growlers and bottles—all the essential things to keep a business going. We can’t store it here, and parking is really tough in Boston. If we need to make a quick run, we book a car and shoot over there back and forth and don’t have to worry. It is a really cost-effective solution.

Originally appeared in Ziptopia.

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