Harriet was one of the first.
When the Surly Bill passed in 2011, it summoned a stampede and Harriet Brewing was at the front of the herd. Co-founder Jason Sowards and team burst open in their Longfellow spot, the one with the front entryway you could buy growlers in and the cozy little backroom you could lurk at on a weekday and catch music. They had this shitty, sloppy parking lot on the side. It was prime real estate to film a detergent commercial, but ya nearly never had trouble finding a spot. It was perfect for music mini-fests and food truck rallies. In that case, you just parked at the funeral parlor across the way (which was, of course, prohib — er, I mean, we never did that).
Personally, Harriet was one of the first to embrace this couple of nincompoops new to craft beer. There are beers we enjoy, others not so much, as the case is everywhere, but hot damn is it fun! Remember this? Harriet. Remember this? Also Harriet. This one? Harriet was our sustenance halfway through. Back in those days, it wasn’t the beer yet that brought us to breweries but the atmosphere. Harriet was always good for that. When it was the beer, Harriet was good for that too.
They’ve got a fcking jungle cat on top of the entryway.
I remember seeing that for the first time and thinking, “Wow. This place has got a fcking jungle cat over the entryway.”
If you want to drink with a fcking jungle cat, you go to Harriet. If you want to see trippy artwork, Harriet. One of the first breweries to accept a just-turned-radio-show-host way in over his head, Harriet. I remember sitting down with Sowards – he in galoshes, a stained yellow sweater and a 5:00 shadow, me in probably the exact cubicle duds Harriet opposed morally – and him giving me so much great material, I had to skip playing music to fit it all in.
They put all my beers on the house, gave me a growler of beer for only the price of the glass, and sent me off with some swag the day I interviewed him. That was one of the first times I felt truly accepted among folks in “the biz,” then couldn’t remember what I was thinking about right then because free beer.
Divine Oculust, their Belgian strong, was a provocative Kryptonite. I remember trying to explain it on the show, back when I still didn’t really know how to explain beer (I still don’t). I remember taking sip after sip, and just repeating “This is nice, innit?” It drank like a damn summer Saturday. We finished the entire growler, just Stubby J and I (mostly me), and we (I) had a hard time saying straight words at the end of that one. Whether in the taproom or the living room, Oculust was at my side when I discovered a number of new bands. It could have its own soundtrack.
Ultimately, as Harriet announced on their Facebook feed, that great spot was their undoing. You heard it someplace else first: Harriet was one of the first breweries (or the first?) in the area to announce they’re locking the doors up for good, owing to lease BS. I took it with a heavy heart. I think a lot of people did.
The initial reaction from the media was “bummer.” Well, no shit. Even if you weren’t a fan of the beer – which, hey, just get a growler of Oculust and crank Tame Impala one night. Drink it all right then and there. Just trust me. You can still get that frown upside-down.
Within the movement, Harriet’s footprint is undeniable. From the art and small sets, to the food trucks and bashes, Harriet showed many of us how it’s done. They were there at the dawn, and I trust they’ll be jamming well into the night.
My wife had A Cupcake Social for the first time in their parking lot. Love.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Small edits were made within the first couple hours of publication, including the reason cited for closing. Otherwise, couple typos.