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Woburn brewery riding craft beer wave to national success

by: Bob Dumas Updated:

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BOSTON - There have never been more choices when it comes to beer as craft brewing has exploded in popularity.

With brands like Harpoon and Sam Adams, the Boston area has a history of success riding this wave.

Now, you may start to hear more about “Lord Hobo.”

Located in Woburn, it was just designated as the fastest growing regional beer maker in the country by The Brewers Association. Sales were up 400 percent last year and company president Daniel Lanigan hopes to double his output in the coming year. 

At any given time, the brewery -- which is housed in an old stone cutting facility -- has 50,000 gallons of product onsite. That translates into about 100,000 cans of Lord Hobo’s premium IPAs a week.

“We’re trying to create beers that a connoisseur would really appreciate and also beers that people who are sophisticated can also appreciate,” said Lanigan.

The success at Lord Hobo fits into the bigger trend of craft beer’s popularity and people willing to pay more for a higher quality beer. 

“We are selling a lifestyle,” explained Lanigan. “Beer is the most affordable luxury item on earth. There is not a Saudi prince that can buy a better beer than you can buy. The best beers in the world are $8, $10.”

Greg Coote, beverage director for the City Tap Room in Boston’s Seaport, says there’s still room to grow -- even as the number of local breweries has doubled in recent years.  

“I don’t think it’s peaked. A lot of it has to do with the whole farm to table movement. You know, we think about how people are getting their fruits and vegetables, even how restaurants operate now. They want to eat local, and I think that people are drinking local, too,” said Coote. 

An appreciation for high quality products can happen fast in an international city like Boston, according to Lanigan.

“Just a lot of folks who are highly educated and have really good experiences and they travel and they get flavors and tastes and nuances from around the world and they come home and want better things,” Lanigan said.  

Although beer is essentially made of just four ingredients: hops, barley, yeast, and water. Still, Lanigan says it’s hard for a drinker to return to old habits they have tasted something better. 

“If you grew up on Heineken or Rolling Rock or Bud Light and then you have a Sam Adams and then a Sierra Nevada, and then you have a Lord Hobo and suddenly you get used to those flavors, and you want those flavors, and you need those flavors," Lanigan said. 

He estimates there are now about 20,000 different beers in the world.