Sunday, December 06, 2015

Aeronaut Brewing Offers a Sip of Brew and a Taste of the Arts

Aeronaut Brewing Offers a Sip of Brew and a Taste of the Arts

By Doug Holder

A cold rain blanketed Somerville when I met with Ben Holmes and Randy Winchester at my usual corner at the Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square. Holmes, who looks to be in his twenties is the founder of the Aeronaut Brewing Company on Tyler Street just outside Union Square. Holmes lives in the Spring Hill section of Somerville, and he told me his family has a long lineage in our town. A close relative lived  for over sixty years on School Street ( My stomping grounds), and his family owned a tinware factory in Somerville as well. Winchester who runs the Duck Village Theater component of the venue has a less illustrious background in Somerville, but he has lived in our burg on and off for a total of 10 years. He recently had to move to Arlington, Mass. because of the skyrocketing rents the city is experiencing. For over  30 years Winchester worked at MIT  where he ran video network systems along with other varied duties. Now he books musicians and other artists at the Brewery—as well as conducts research on yeast for the development of new and enticing craft beers.

The Aeronaut is a place to get a draft to be sure. But it is also hosts indie-style music, as well as classical, jazz, fusion, etc.. It houses a science lab that makes for interesting local brews, and even boasts a studio that live streams( on the internet) many of the performances that take place here.

Aeronaut opened June 21, 2014, and it is located near another innovative spot-- the Artisan's Asylum. Holmes said of the Asylum, “ We do a bunch of things together. The Asylum works with metal, wood, high tech, and computers. So we have projects like manufacturing tap handles, and other related stuff.”

Winchester told me a bit more about some of the artists and musicians they have hosted. It is an eclectic list. They have provided the venue for Shakespeare productions, rap groups, massive light and sound projects, Brooklyn-based jazz ensembles, and Reggae groups. Ubiquitous Somerville artist Paul Gonzalez lll has displayed his work here and, local composer, and singer Marlene Tholl has performed in the space, and the list goes on.

The lab where brew masters experiment with different forms of yeast, has produced some exotic concoctions. There is Expat—a roasted and aromatic brew—Orangutan Skies—made with tropical and citrus hops, Cocoa Sutra—infused with cacao nibs from Somerville Chocolate, and others.

I asked Winchester where he got the name Duck Village Stage. He told me that Duck Village is a section of Somerville based around Dane, Washington, and Beacon Streets. It is has been said that Duck Village was popular among illegal makers of moonshine during Prohibition  because in this densely populated environ it was easy to escape the cops. The said Brewery is firmly in Duck Village territory.

Holmes told me he has a 10 year lease for the enterprise. He said he hopes that Somerville will make his neighborhood into a Fabrication District, where innovative places such as his can be protected from the skyrocketing rents gentrification will bring.

It is evident that these two men are representative of a new breed of entrepreneur/innovators—here--in--the Paris of New England.

For more information go to


  1. Anonymous4:45 PM

    That Doug Holder always has his finger on the pulse of Somerville......the Paris of New England, indeed!!! I'm looking forward to experiencing Aeronaut Brewing for myself when Doug and some of his fellow employees at McLean Hospital bid adieu to another of their co-workers at McLean......a very talented and upcoming musician who shall remain nameless for the time being. We're all thinking we can say we knew him BEFORE he was famous!!

  2. Anonymous6:22 AM

    omg !!! Its Jack Holland, the one and only and how sad we are to see him go

  3. Anonymous6:29 AM

    doug, very impressive interview