Somerville, MA — It’s so hip the hipsters are beginning to look askance at Aeronaut Brewing.
Oh it’s all about the beer, no question about that, but it just seems that this 2014 startup has moved so far, so fast that you’ll be pardoned if your first impression is that it’s more about the impression. You see Aeronaut does so many things right — the things a lot of other brewers could care less about — that you’ll wonder how they have time for the beer.
It all starts with the space. Aeronaut moved into a cavernous old warehouse or manufacturing plant or something, one of those industrial age monstrosities that dot the New England landscape. It lends itself to drinking, congregating, live music, catering, hydroponics, even a Saturday morning kids birthday party. I am not making that up; all those things were happening or scheduled when I dropped in for a flight.
So the flight was a somewhat predictable experience, a kolschy kolsch, a saison, and the IPA sisters, double and session. Nothing super outstanding; good enough that locals can make this their go-to and not really be missing out on anything elsewhere. The IPAs are named for some Dr. Nandu, and I couldn’t be bothered to find out more although I did order an additional pint to ponder the question.
Speaking of flights, Aeronaut kicked off their grand opening with a balloon launch homage to the Lawn Chair Man, sans occupant, safely tethered to terra firma. That assemblage is now suspended over the main serving bar, although its historic representation is likely lost on most of the patrons.
The location is just about perfect, you more or less have to walk to Aeronaut, perfect for the hipster’s Keds. The fact that a lot of people stumble in looking for the climbing gym (two doors away) merely adds to the fun.
And finally, the details are perfect. The can art on the Dr. Nandu offerings are suitable for framing, and the Aeronaut logo does triple duty as a pop-top, a balloon, and I forget what. It’s all just as it should be for the Somerville-Cambridge…neat, clean, well-planned, progressive…hip.
For those unfamiliar with the flight of the Lawn Chair Man, Larry Walters tied a bunch of military weather balloons to a lawn chair, sat in it, and cut the tether. Instead of hovering over his house as planned, he rocketed to 16,000 feet, drifted into LAX airspace, and lived to tell about it. Here is the Associated Press story as reported in the New York Times, July 3 1982:
LONG BEACH, Calif, July 2 (AP) A truck driver with 45 weather balloons rigged to a lawn chair took a 45-minute ride aloft to 16,000 feet today before he got cold, shot some balloons out and crashed into a power line, the police said.
“I know it sounds strange, but it’s true,” Lieut. Rod Mickelson said after he stopped laughing. “The guy just filled up the balloons with helium, strapped on a parachute, grabbed a BB gun and took off.”
The man was identified as Larry Walters, 33 years old, of North Hollywood. He was not injured.
The Federal Aviation Administration was not amused.
A regional safety inspector, Neal Savoy, said the flying lawn chair was spotted by Trans World Airlines and Delta Airlines jetliner pilots at 16,000 feet above sea level.
“We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, some type of charge will be filed,” Mr. Savoy said. “If he had a pilot’s license, we’d suspend that. But he doesn’t.”
The police said Mr. Walters went to a friend’s house in San Pedro Thursday night, inflated 45 six-foot weather balloons and attached them to an aluminum lawn chair tethered to the ground.
This morning, with half a dozen friends holding the tethers, he donned a parachute, strapped himself into the chair and had his friends let him up slowly.
Minutes later, he was calling for help over his citizens band radio.
“This guy broke into our channel with a mayday,” said Doug Dixon, a member of an Orange County citizens band radio club. “He said he had shot up like an elevator to 16,000 feet and was getting numb before he started shooting out some of the balloons.”
Mr. Walters then lost his pistol overboard, and the chair drifted downward, controlled only by the gallon jugs of water attached to the sides as ballast.
The ropes became entangled in a power line, briefly blacking out a small area in Long Beach. The chair dangled five feet above the ground, and Mr. Walters was able to get down safely.
“Since I was 13 years old, I’ve dreamed of going up into the clear blue sky in a weather balloon,” he said. “By the grace of God, I fulfilled my dream. But I wouldn’t do this again for anything.”