Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Evening with Pretty Things

After our brew day at Mayflower, we drove back to Boston and had dinner at Redbones, a great, and hugely popular, concept barbeque and good beer joint where the pulled pork married well with Cambridge Brewing Company's "Imperial Skisbol", a dark Danish smoked lager brewed in collaboration with Nørrebro Bryghus. After dinner, we met up with Pretty Things duo Dann Paquette and his wife Martha on the back deck of Deep Ellum, which proved to be the metaphysical nexus of the day, including several Mayflower beers on tap and cask, Pretty Things' own "Jack D'Or" and "Confounded Mr. Sisyphus" on tap, along with other local standouts from High and Mighty, Berkshire and Cambridge. The laundry list of creative New England breweries and a focus on session beer made for an extremely smart tap list, and it was great to hear how interconnected all the brewers are with each other.

Dann was a fixture of the Bay State brewing scene having brewed at Ipswich, John Harvard's, The Tap and inventing the Rapscallion beer line (where Matt Steinberg also worked), before moving to England and brewing at Daleside for a couple of years. Now back in Massachusetts, the beers he is currently producing span his experience, from riffs on saison to a British brown, to a session lager coming shortly.

Dann and Martha seem to share an impish-psychedelic-storybook imagination and funhouse spirit that is readily apparent in their highly personal and brilliant website. There is a real charm to the Pretty Things mystique, we weren't surprised to hear that Dann looks to fellow madcap Kris Herteleer from De Dolle Brouwers for inspiration. Our conversation lead towards a real interesting mash-up of eccentric Belgian and traditional British beer-ways. Dann's alternate persona "Jack D'Or", an Edwardian character of his and Martha's design furthers the spirit of fun at the heart of the Pretty Things Project.

It was really enlightening to be able to drink Pretty Things beers while Dann expounded on the virtues of authenticity and fun that are the drive of the project. Of particular interest is the brew house rental (not contract brew) model that Pretty Things has worked out with Paper City Brewery in Holyoke, MA (which also has a more traditional contract brewing arrangement to produce High and Mighty). The model has worked well for De Struise and De Ranke in Belgium before they got their own respective breweries.

Thank you to the inimitable Dann Paquette and the eminently charming Martha Holley for a memorable evening.

We'll be posting Dann's Guidelines to a Proper Bitter and a podcast of our conversation on the site shortly.


  1. This is going to come off as harsh and nitpicky, but describing Redbones really irks me. Makes the place sound like a pretentious shithole that belongs in the South End. Cozy local, thats what it is to me. Sorry for the rant.

  2. Uh yeah, that should be "descriding Redbones as a concept." Me bad grammar.