The Mystic Brewery’s entrance into Chelsea was as sudden and unexpected as its exit – which was announced suddenly by owner Bryan Greenhagen on Friday, Sept. 27.
The Brewery was one of the first in what has become a popular movement of local beer brewers hosting customers in tap rooms. Mystic blazed a trail in that movement in Chelsea, and so it was with shock that many absorbed the news from the City’s cornerstone establishment.
“We are sad to share the news today that Mystic Brewery has decided to discontinue brewing operations and intends to wind things down over the next few weeks,” wrote Greenhagen on Facebook Sept. 27. “During this time we will be celebrating what our brewery has accomplished by releasing some final batches, special beers, and selling off our beer archive as well as selling off all of our barrels to the public…All of us at Mystic extend our eternal gratitude to everyone who helped us and supported us in our mission to change beer culture for the better in Boston and beyond…Personally, I am very proud of the many Mystic alumni going on to their own success as well as the incredible team of great people we have now. We are sad to wind down our work here, but we are proud of what we accomplished and know in our hearts that the impact of Mystic will remain long after the doors are closed.”
Greenhagen didn’t respond to an inquiry for further explanation from the Record, but let the Facebook post stand on its own.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it was a place for Chelsea residents to come and be social, and it would be missed.
“I was saddened to hear about the closing,” he said. “It was a place many residents and visitors enjoyed, myself included.”
Edson Coimbra, one of the founders of Ciao! Pizza, said his store and Mystic Brewery were aligned closely – from serving one another’s products to being on the same page for the renaissance of Chelsea.
“No doubt this a big loss for Chelsea,” said Coimbra. “It added tremendous value to our community. It is/was a meeting point for many community focused events, bringing us all together. Their customers became our customers and vice versa. Ciao! Pizza and Mystic Beer were a love story made in Chelsea. Mystic will be missed.”
One of the revelations regarding breweries that first became apparent in Mystic was that people not only wanted their beer, but also they wanted to come to the brewery to drink it. That gave birth to the tap room idea that started in the area at Mystic, and then like wildfire spread to each and every new brewery in the market.
And beyond the tap room concept, Mystic was one of the first to discover that customers wanted to hold special events and functions at the brewery – something Greenhagen once said he could have never predicted, but certainly was ready to embrace.
Dog rescue events, political times, economic development showcases, and even wedding parties took place at Mystic.
However, one key event for Chelsea was the Chel-Yea! Meet-up group that formed more than five years and found a monthly home at the Brewery.
Dan Cortez and Matt Frank were two key figures in the Chel-Yea movement, and both were shocked to see that their home base was no longer.
“Mystic Brewery has hosted Chel-yea for close to five and a half years,” said Cortez. “It is not just the place where the event happens, it’s integral to its success. I think Chel-yea could be successful in other places, but it’s going to be very difficult to replicate the charm, the generosity, and the overall good vibes from not only the venue, but also its staff, management and ownership.”
He added that Mystic became a place for people to gather, and it will be hard to find another place like that.
“Mystic is not only a great brewery, but also it has become a favored community spot, something really important to a lot of people,” he said. “We started Chel-yea partly because there was a lack of those types of spaces. If you met someone that you hoped to run into again, this became the place that made that possible. Now it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, ‘Meet me at Mystic.’ It’s sad that soon we will no longer be able to do that.”
Frank said it was a community spot the City was lucky to have while it lasted.
“They did so much for the community and the community has embraced them,” he said. “They were at the top of the movement before there were so many breweries. In my opinion, the brewing scene is now oversaturated. I think of respect them for notifying everyone in advance. It’s not often you have 19 days advance notice when your favorite business is closing…I think the completely would have been completely devastated if they had just hung up a closed sign. We at least get to say good-bye. They weren’t just people brewing beer. They were part of the community.
“I think a lot of Chelsea pride is being lost, but it’s pride we were lucky to have in the first place,” he continued.