Bukowski’s next chapter in beer takes inspiration from its namesake

Now you can taste a Bukowski-inspired brew at where else? Bukowski's. (Derek Kouyoumjian)
(Derek Kouyoumjian)

It’s been 20 years this month since the death of iconic American author Charles Bukowski, and the people behind the bar that share his name are celebrating appropriately: by drinking.

In a new program that launched last Sunday at Bukowski Tavern in Cambridge, called the R.I.P. Series, the Wilcox Group (who also operate The Lower Depths, The Tip Tap Room, the Parish Cafe and others) served up the first offering in what will be a new original brew partnership with a list of breweries.

The first beer is a collaboration with Portico Brewing called Pulp, a red ale named for Bukowski’s final novel.

“We just wanted to kick it off in a way that could kind of say, we’re starting something new for Bukowski. So why not name it after his last novel, where he left off?” explained Justin Lipata, bar manager at Bukowski Cambridge.

Existence, as he wrote in “Pulp,” may be hard work, but so is brewing, so the bar enlisted the aid of a group of brewers, including Harpoon, Rising Tide, Clown Shoes, Jack’s Abby and Cisco, and will roll out a new one every couple of months or so.

“Everyone is biting at the nib right now,” Lipata said. “We are very excited so many breweries want to participate.”

Each beer will be very much a collaboration, he explained, between the particular brewers and the Wilcox bar team. For the Portico Pulp, which was brewed at Watch City in Waltham, “We wanted a style to fit the season, so we thought, what a great time in New England, with the spring starting to come back and St. Patrick’s Day coming; let’s do a red ale. Then we added hibiscus flower to kind of remind people of the return of spring.”

The beers will be available at all of their locations throughout the city, ranging from $6.50-$7, and a portion of sales will be donated to an as yet undetermined Boston literacy program, they say.

Bukoswki getting in on the craft brewing experience makes sense: They were among the first bars in the area to really embrace the breadth of brewing options from around the world, long before anyone starting paying attention. At Bukoswki in Cambridge there are 31 draft lines and around 140 bottles at the moment.

“I think the beer scene in Boston now, compared to when the original Bukoswki in Boston opened, is totally different. Everyone can get these distinct, unique, rare craft beers, so that’s one of the driving things behind this process— so you have to come to us to try these beers,” Lipata said.

“We think it’s gong to make people a little more excited in Boston, with all these brews coming out with brand new never before seen styles. When you see a beer readily available at every bar, it hits a lull. You want to energize the people again, make them more interested.”

Bukowski Tavern
1281 Cambridge St., Cambridge


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