The year 2020 was meant to be a banner 12 months for Dorchester Brewing Company. The Massachusetts Avenue brewery, which also goes by DBCo, rang in the new year with a new roof deck and garden, dubbed the “Hopservatory,” and a partnership with local pop-up operation M&M BBQ.
Just over two months later, the Covid pandemic shut down the state, and in the 16 months that followed, DBCo pivoted to distribution and virus-safe events, such as socially distant dinners, to stay afloat. Those moves helped the company survive to celebrate five years in business this Saturday (July 24) with an “Anniversary Bash.”
“Opening Dot Brewing five years ago was a long process,” said Holly Irgens, co-founder and marketing director. “We looked at different properties and tried to figure out the best place in Dorchester. Two of the co-founders, Matt Malloy and Travis Lee, were Dorchester residents. It was always part of the goal to be in Dorchester. We wanted to be part of the community, support the community, and create a new place that people wanted to go within Dorchester.”
Since its launch in 2016, the brewery’s business has grown “exponentially,” according to the brewery.
“When we opened, we weren’t distributing our beer, we were just doing contract brewing for other brands,” Irgens said. “We were doing some of our own beers, but only in-house. We went from doing more contract brewing to brewing more of our own beers. We signed on with a distributor last December, so now you can find our beers in hundreds of liquor stores around Massachusetts, whereas five years ago, you couldn’t even find them in a liquor store in Dorchester. So that’s been a big shift over the last five years.”
As it has expanded, DBCo has also become a hot spot for local community events.
In an interview, event manager Derek Rayner was quick to spotlight some of the brewery’s recent inclusive events, including Drag Bingo and Drag Brunch. He’s also proud of the socially distanced course dinners that DBCo put on throughout the pandemic.
“They would do a menu item, and we would pair a beer with it,” Rayner said. “The dinners were a great way to get people in the space while still keeping it Covid-safe.”
Each dinner sold out quickly. “People were clamoring for something to do while still staying safe,” he said.
As DBCo continues to develop, the founders hope to stay inclusive and rooted in Dorchester. At a time where many craft breweries have come under fire for a lack of diversity, DBCo is proud to have gay and female leadership.
“Between myself and Lee, it’s always been our mission to make DBCo a welcoming place for everyone, our customers, and our employees,” Irgens said. “I think that we try to make it that environment where everyone can be themselves. Even with customers, if someone’s not a beer person, that’s fine with us. We’re not the typical beer snobs.”
In a nod to its diverse clientele, DBCo sells craft seltzer, cider, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages in addition to beer.
Looking ahead, with the pandemic lingering, Rayner says he’s “cautiously optimistic. We’re not sure what’s going to happen in the fall; we’re not sure what’s going to happen with the Covid variants; but we’re hoping that the worst of it is behind us and that we can keep progressing.”
For details on the fifth anniversary event, visit DBCo’s website at dorchesterbrewing.com/events/event/5th-year-anniversary-bash/.