2015 Boston Rising Star Brewer Bryan Greenhagen of Mystic Brewery

2015 Boston Rising Star Brewer Bryan Greenhagen of Mystic Brewery
March 2015

Mystic Brewery
174 Williams St
Chelsea, MA 02150


If you get to pick anyone to be in charge of the yeast strains going into your beer, lifetime beer aficionados and avid-turned-pro home brewers might be near the top of your list. Closest to the top should be Bryan Greenhagen.

Greenhagen got into beer by way of fermentation. An early curiosity as to why plants develop the ability to make flavors and fragrances in nature morphed into Greenhagen’s post-doctoral studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Yes, you read that correctly.) And while a career followed that found him fermenting to create flavors and fragrances for a living, Greenhagen realized it would be much more fun to turn his PhD and expertise toward beer.

In 2011, Greenhagen founded Mystic Brewery in Chelsea, with beer brewed off-site at Pioneer Brewing in Sturbridge and the wort fermented back in the Chelsea space. The results are beers that have more variety and authentic local flavor than your average flight. This is thanks in large part to a months long process of locating and harvesting indigenous yeasts that are cultivated from local fruit, purified, and selected for brewing. Tack onto that the barrel-aging that much of Mystic beer goes through and you have a serious devotion of time. But the yields are unparalleled. Greenhagen is methodical and meticulous with a traditional bent, but he’s brewing wholly new (and colorfully local) beer, like the Vinland Two which earned Mystic a gold medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival.

Interview with Boston Rising Star Brewer Bryan Greenhagen of Mystic Brewery

Alex Kalaf: How did you first get into brewing beer?
Bryan Greenhagen:
I have a background in industrial fermentation and product development. I used to homebrew on weekends in grad school. I’ve always been focused and fascinated by the process of fermentation. When I looked back into my family tree, I found out that quite a few of my distant family members had similar backgrounds to what I’m doing now.

AK: Describe your style as a brewer.
BG: It takes a ton of influences from historical brewing methods and focuses extremely heavily on fermentation and yeast and other brewing related microbial flora.

AK: What is your favorite beer that you have brewed?
BG: It’s very hard to pick, but I love pre-industrial beers like farmhouse style. I was a line cook in the past, so I take a bit of the cooking approach. I’m extremely proud of my traditional Lambic program.

AK: How many barrels a year do you currently produce?
BG: We produced 1,100 barrels last year in 18 barrel batches.

AK: What is the most important part of brewing?
BG: I focus heavily on yeast and bacterial fermentation and take influences from Belgian farmhouse breweries and use tricks that have taken a long time to learn. The funny thing is, when you meet with these brewers, their methodology is more about tradition and how we have always done things, rather than the process.

AK: What kind of beer do you like to drink in your free time?
BG: The pre-industrial farmhouse styles we brew here.

AK: If you weren't a brewer, what would you be doing?
BG: Some sort of fermentation-related scientist, most likely.

AK: Where will we find you in five years?
We are currently in the process of obtaining a brewhouse, so we’re looking to increase production and grow the traditional lambic program.