Kegs of locally brewed beer. / photos courtesy Arlington Brewing Co.Kegs of beer bearing town name await local suds fans./ Image courtesy Arlington Brewing Co.

UPDATED July 2: At the height of the pandemic in 2020, local residents Tom Allen and Matt Guernsey were chatting one day and came up with a great idea for the town — a beer scene.

This inspired the duo to create Arlington Brewing Co.

Allen and Guernsey got to work creating their business model and planning their operations, with the goal of having the business running by the end of the pandemic.

That goal has, in major part, been realized. After sporadic pop-up events earlier this year, the first major occasion for the brewery, a beer garden, is set for this Friday, June 30, at the park/beach of the Arlington Reservoir in Arlington Heights -- a first for that location.

Neither grew up in Arlington, but the sense of community has made them feel more at home here than anywhere else, they say. The plethora of small businesses and mom-and-pop shops served as inspiration for Arlington Brewing Co., as Arlington’s quiet small-town vibe seemed a better location than the more cosmopolitan Cambridge and Somerville.

“The best part about Arlington is that there are no other [commercial] breweries,” Guernsey said in a recent interview. “Every year over $50 million leaves Arlington and goes to restaurants and bars in neighboring towns. We wanted to do something to change that.”

The art and science of brewing 

Guernsey, who previously worked incleantechbusiness management for 15 years, had been searching for a new business venture that could directly affect his community in a positive way.

The idea of opening a brewery resonated with Guernsey, who knew he could use his engineering and business background to help Arlington Brewing Co. grow into a lasting part of Arlington’s restaurant scene.

“Arlington used to be a dry town, so this business will be making history,” Guernsey said. “Our brewery was licensed last fall, and we began to host pop-up beer gardens throughout the spring. We have several events planned for the summer, and we hope to find some real estate to open a fully functioning taproom by next year.”

Allen is head brewer at Arlington Brewing Co. He spent two decades in robotics and manufacturing engineering, where he specialized in designing for quality and consistency -- skills that he has implemented while brewing beer.Tom Allen is head brewer at Arlington Brewing CompanyTom Allen: from beer hobbyist to head brewer and local entrepreneur.

Allen had also, earlier in his life as a hobbyist, studied the art and science of brewing world-class beers, winning multiple brewing awards in the process.

Guernsey said Allen’s background is why Arlington Brewing Co. is able to feature a wide variety of high-quality beers.

“We are firm believers there is a beer for everyone,” Guernsey said. “We offer 16 different beers we have brewed in-house, from classic to contemporary styles. We have everything from an English-style bitter to a light German-style lager to a rosé sour to an IPA with hops grown right here in Arlington.”

Next up: taproom on tap

While the brewery at present is home-based, Guernsey and Allen are actively searching for a suitable location in town for a permanent brick-and-mortar taproom.

“We don’t want to be a hole-in-the-wall. We want to have a space to hold at least 100 people for events,” Guernsey said. “However, we also want to collaborate with other Arlington businesses.”

Further elaborating on his and Allen’s ambitions, he said, “Along with great beer, the taproom will also offer great food, as we want to create a family-friendly business model where the people can bring their whole families along to enjoy the brewery together.”

Guernsey said local state Rep. Sean Garballey, an Arlington native, has been a big supporter of Arlington Brewing Company. Garballey recently toured the facility and is optimistic about the plans to find a permanent home.

Thousands attend Reservoir's first beer garden held June 30

Poster publicizing June 30 eventArlington Brewing Co. held its first beer garden of the summer -- with six more scheduled to follow on successive Friday evenings into August -- from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 30, at the Arlington Reservoir, 210 Lowell St.

The first drew thousands as many neighborhood parking spaces were taken. After 7 p.m., lines to get food meant a wait of 30 to 45 minutes, some attending said.

Recreation Director Joe Connelly responded July 2 to a YourArlington query: "I really have no idea [about the crowd size]. I was saying 5,000, but people called me crazy. At least 2,000."

In addition to offering their wide selection of beers, the series will feature food available for purchase from BTS Backyard BBQ.

Plus, Arlington Family Connectionwas in the mix, providing family-friendly games, and there were live music performances, with a different performer each week, starting June 30 with veteran children’s musician Ben Rudnick.

All ages are welcome to attend the events, but, of course, beer consumption will be restricted to only the age-21-and-up crowd. 

Connelly responded to queries from YourArlington on June 28, writing that this is the town's second season of concerts at the Res and first for concerts, beer gardens and barbecues.

"Our goal is to have the Reservoir Beach be a place for the entire community to enjoy," he wrote. "These events will hopefully allow residents who may not normally go to the beach in the summer to enjoy the newly renovated reservoir in a different way.

"Arlington Recreation also feels it is very important to promote local businesses and this is a way that we can help. Most if not all of our performers are either residents or have local ties."

Naming opportunity

Owners of the Arlington Beer Co. need your help.

Allen wrote in an email that he recently spent time double-batching ABC's IPA -- "and wow does it smell delicious! But here is our problem -- it still doesn’t have a name. So naturally we are outsourcing our work and starting a contest."


(New England India Pale Ale)

We describe our NEIPA like this: “Citra and Mosaic hops take center stage in this juicy citrus extravaganza that your nose will recognize from across the room. Saving all the hops for post-boil addition, either in the whirlpool or via dry-hopping, results in an intense aroma of grapefruit and tangerine while leaving all the bitterness behind. It’s bright, refreshing and we can’t stop taking sip after sip.”

So come to the Res on June 30, taste the beer, see what inspires you and submit your ideas --in person.You might just get to name our beer and win some free ABCo merch. For details, check out NAME OUR NEIPA.

June 8, 2023: Fun's on tap': Beer gardens at Res, Jason Russell


This news feature by freelance writer Alex Svenson was published Wednesday, June 28, 2023. It was updated July 2, with comments about the June 30 crowd size.