Brewing Exceptional Beers Behind the Scenes
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
In the wee small hours of Oct. 14, 2014, Dann Paquette took to the Twitter feed of his Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project to lambast pay-to-play at Massachusetts pubs. “Do you know any bar who takes money for their draft lines?” read one tweet. “Put it out there with the hashtag #dirtylines.”
People did, and Paquette’s screed prompted not only headlines throughout New England, but also a state investigation that has so far netted charges against at least one distributor—the first time that’s happened in Massachusetts in 15 years.
Before the social-media brouhaha, Paquette, who resembles the singer Morrissey, was best known as a pioneer of tenant brewing (sometimes called gypsy brewing). Pretty Things rents space at breweries during odd hours so Paquette and wife Martha, who co-founded the company in 2008 in the Boston area, can brew. It’s contract brewing—except they’re the labor.
In 2014, Pretty Things produced more than 4,000 barrels, according to Paquette, who worked as a brewer for 15 years before striking out on his own. At least 90 percent of the beer is sold in Massachusetts and the rest as far afield as California and Florida.
The company’s flagship is the first beer it made: Jack D’Or, what it describes as a “saison Americain.” Its development reflects Pretty Things’ own third-way course between contract brewing and owning a physical brewery.
“Drawing that label, then brewing that first batch left us literally broke as a couple,” Paquette told AAB. “Jack has been good to us, and in turn we’ve worked really hard through 80 or so batches to keep him marching forward and tasting great. Recently, we hit on a fantastic mix of yeasts [and] water treatment, but trust me—it’s been a struggle.”
Editor’s Note: Soon after this story appeared in print, Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project announced it would cease production.