Each summer since 2016, Somerville-based brewery Aeronaut brings life to an otherwise austere block with yard games, lights, music, and libations as part of its seasonal beer garden pop-up at Harvard’s Zone 3.
The zone, which encompasses 267 Western Ave., started in 2015 as an initiative by Harvard to “to further activate and energize Western Ave with creative programs, events, retail experiments, and public art.”
The Aeronaut beer garden will make one more appearance in Zone 3 this fall on Oct. 7 for Oktoberfest.
Michael Theodosiou — a shift lead for Aeronaut — started working for the company during the first years of the pop-up series.
“We started off in the parking lot with just a couple of kegs and a jockey box, just serving to the public,” Theodosiou said. “Then they gave us this space, and it has evolved.”
Last weekend was Aeronaut’s final opening in Zone 3 for the summer, but marked the first visit to the beer garden for Wellesley College students Greysea McCooe and Juliana Rat Vengeance, who moved to Boston in April. The pair were riding on a bus to Cambridge Pizza when they decided to check out the Aeronaut beer garden.
“I was like, ‘Oh, that looks cool. Do you want to hop off the bus at the next stop and go check it out?’” Vengeance said. “So then we did.”
Pamela J. Naab — a professor at Lasell University who lives in Brighton — also commented on the outside appearance of the space, describing it as “a great atmosphere.”
Harvard owns roughly a third of the land in Allston and built its Business School campus, the Science and Engineering Complex, and various athletic facilities in the area.
Since the start of Theodosiou’s time with Aeronaut and the opening of the Zone 3 beer garden, he said he has noticed changes as a result of Harvard’s development in the area.
“Obviously, Harvard’s bought across the street, and those are all labs now,” he said, adding that the labs are “what used to be homes.”
“I wouldn’t say people are getting driven out of their neighborhoods,” Theodosiou said. “But I would say, you’re gonna offer somebody X amount of money for their property, why wouldn’t they take it?”
Despite changes, Theodosiou said the beer garden at Zone 3 still gets some of the “old school Rat City” — a nickname for Allston.
“It’s Allston. This is Rat City,” he said. “Having the old school who still have houses here come by, that feels good.”
The beer garden has also changed in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Theodosiou said.
“Pre-Covid, I would say we were way more busier because we were the only beer garden, like, you want to bring a dog out, you wanted to have a beer — we were the place,” he said. “Covid hit and you can bring your dog anywhere, you can go sit outside anywhere — so we’re not as busy as we used to be.”
McCooe said he believes beer gardens and other outdoor spaces are particularly important after the pandemic.
“I think, especially in the wake of being inside for so long, it’s good to have a place to come together and to feel like you exist beyond the confines of your dorm room or house,” McCooe said.
Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher — a professor at Boston College who lives in Brighton — feels similarly about the importance of the beer garden to the neighborhood.
“I think these kinds of spaces are really important for people to get together and be outside and enjoy the neighborhood,” Sanzenbacher said.