No visit to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts would be complete without seeing the 3,000 years of history housed in the Art of the Americas wing. Covering four floors, you can tour North, Central, and South America in just a couple of hours… but our favorite exhibits feature Revolutionary-era Boston! The museum is open seven days a week, with free admission (donations always welcome) Wednesdays after 4pm.
1. John Singleton Copley’s famous portraits of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Warren, and Mercy Otis Warren
Copley painted these players in Revolutionary Boston as events heated up in the late 1760s and early 1770s (to learn more, join us on a Freedom Trail tour)! Copley was born in Boston and was the town’s preeminent portrait painter, but he married a loyalist and set sail for London in 1774, never to return. Our podcast, Beer Makes History, episode #7 talks more about Copley and the men and women he painted.
2. Paul Revere’s Sons of Liberty Bowl and other metalwork
Made of silver and engraved in 1768, this bowl honors the “Glorious Ninety-Two,” members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter they signed protesting the Townshend Duties of 1767. You’ll find more of Revere’s work encased nearby this national treasure.
3. 18th-century Furniture
You'll have serious design envy when you see some of the gorgeously intricate furniture pieces. The MFA has several different items that were created in New England and are in amazing condition. This bookcase and desk will make you want to take out some paper and quill and write an actual letter.
4. “The Athenaeum Portrait” of George Washington
You'll be able to spot this painting pretty easily--you've definitely seen it before. Artist Gilbert Stuart first painted George Washington in 1795. Martha Washington liked the painting so much, she asked her husband to sit for another portrait, but Stuart left the painting unfinished so he wouldn’t have to part with it. This image of Washington appears on the one-dollar bill.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, for beer! We love pumpkin beers--we highlight our favorite below--but there's a bountiful harvest of other Autumn beers and wanted to share our favorites.
1. Jack's Abby Copper Legend
This seasonal beer is dangerously smooth in its taste. Jack's Abby only makes lagers and this one is malty and balanced. It's 5.7% ABV, but you wouldn't know it--like we said, it's smooth. It's only available until the end of the month, so grab it now!
2. Downeast Pumpkin Cider
Okay, so this one isn't a beer, but a cider. And it's delicious. On our tours we often serve Downeast Original Blend, but join us this time of year to try our favorite seasonal cider. This pumpkin cider is insanely delicious. It's hard to oversell it. It's not overly pumpkin-y--the most prevalent notes are chai spices.
3. Harpoon Flannel Friday
This is the beer equivalent of needing a flannel as the weather gets cooler. Hoppy and malty with a gorgeous amber color, we recommend drinking this beer while cozying at home or in Harpoon's beer hall in Boston's Seaport District.
4. Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale
Pumpkin beers are ubiquitous these days, but Shipyard was making pumpkin beer before it was cool. This beer is a cult favorite in New England and bonus points if you put a cinnamon sugar rim on your glass.
5. Night Shift Awake
Porters are a wonderful beer to drink in the late fall. Appropriately named Awake, this porter is brewed with coffee and that'll be obvious before you even take a sip. It's a robust 6.7% and with its hints of chocolate, it's a delicious way to finish off a hearty dinner.
Ye Olde Tavern Tours is excited to create and sponsor a new podcast – Beer Makes History! Each episode pairs Boston’s revolutionary (and drunken) past with a craft beer. We hope you’ll drink, learn, and laugh along with us as we explore events from 1763 to 1776. If our fun co-hosts get you in the mood for more history, check out these other historical podcasts we enjoy:
This Washington Post podcast tackles each US president, one-by-one. Host Lillian Cunningham brings on expert biographers, like Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, to recap the life and legacy of every president. It’s understandable to go in order or start with the big names, but we recommend checking out some of the more obscure presidents (like Episode 13’s Millard Fillmore) to learn something new and find out why they remain in the shadows.
2. The Dollop
Two comedians get together to talk history. The catch? One does the research and one is hearing about the topic for the first time. Hilarity ensues. Topics run the gamut from “Ten Cent Beer Night” (Episode 15) to the “1919 Boston Police Strike” (Episode 256). Spoiler alert: they both end badly.
3. Hardcore History
Dan Carlin’s podcast has been around since before podcasts were cool, and a lot of his deep dives go back way further than that. From the Mongol Empire to a six-part series on the First World War, Carlin’s episodes incorporate history, thought experiments, and personal touches that bring history to life.
4. Back Story and Past Present
In both podcasts, historians explore the history of current events. Back Story focuses on a single issue each week, including major topics like reparations and more niche explorations like the history of solitude. Past Present tackles three issues in politics or pop culture, like Episode 177 titled “Ancestry.com, Vigilante Border Patrol Groups, and Cargo Shorts.” Both provide excellent fodder for dinner conversation with friends!
Our tour guests are sometimes interested in visiting the plentiful history outside of Boston. If you're a fan of John Adams or John Quincy Adams, we recommend a trip to Quincy to see three Adams Family homes at the Adams National Historical Park. Take the Red Line subway to Quincy Center to get your tour started.
Since you're out in Quincy, it's worth the short walk from the Adams Visitor Center to the Quincy Historical Society. There is a small museum about the history of Quincy, which is located at the site of John Hancock's birth.
A short walk from the Quincy Historical Society is the Dorothy Quincy Homestead, future wife of John Hancock. The house is rarely open to the public, but sits on beautiful grounds and can be viewed from the street. The original house was built in 1686 and has been expanded over the years.
Give yourself about 3 to 4 hours to enjoy it all. The Adams Park is closed during the winter, so be sure to check online that the sites will be open before trekking out. Enjoy!