People In Preservation: Turtle Swamp Brewing’s John Lincecum

People In Preservation: Turtle Swamp Brewing’s John Lincecum

In recent years, breweries have started to repopulate the Boston landscape, often in unused industrial spaces. The long-vacant the Roslindale Substation (1911) has become one such place. The station was originally home to Boston Elevated Railway Company’s then revolutionary alternating electric current power system, but was decommissioned in 1971. In 2011, the Boston Redevelopment Authority designated HBI and Roslindale Village Main Street to develop the Roslindale Substation. When the adjacent Higgins Funeral parcels became available for purchase in 2012, the two non-profit organizations purchased the land, consolidated it with the substation and partnered with Peregrine Group, LLC to redevelop the Substation.This article is the fifth part of our “People in Preservation” series that profiles the people that live in or work on HBI historic preservation projects.

At the turn of the 20th century, over 20 breweries were crafting their beer from the waters of Stony Brook in Jamaica Plain. By 1964, they had all but disappeared. When Turtle Swamp Brewing founders, John Lincecum and Nicholas Walther, opened Turtle Swamp in 2017, they joined that long history of Boston brewers and a growing resurgence of breweries in the area.

Turtle Swamp Brewing founders Nik Walther and John Lincecum with Assistant Brewer Tanner Cobb (Photo by Derek Kouyoumjian)

After a number of pop-ups at the Roslindale Substation space, including Canton-based Trillium Brewery and MIT arts group Spaceus, Turtle Swamp Brewing’s has decided to take up permanent residence in the historic building. “The brewery and taproom model makes it profitable to support rent of this huge space, while also offering a casual, relaxed community space that naturally encourages diversity in visitors”, said Lincecum.


Lincecum and Walther are JP residents and live right down the street from each other. They met through work at Harpoon Brewery. Lincecum started the business after almost 30 years working as biochemist, where he worked on treatment for patients with ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. “I always wanted to own a business, but I wanted it to be close to home.” Walther started working as a professional brewer in 2008 working at three successful breweries of varying sizes: the Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, the Chelsea Brewing Company in Brooklyn, and the Harpoon Brewery in Boston.

Lincecum sees potential in the JP taproom and the Roslindale Beer Garden as a much needed a third place in JP, “Germany, Ireland, and England have it right, their pubs and beer gardens are a third space between work and home where friends, neighbors, and community members can all be in the same no matter their background.” The JP location hosts LGBTQ trivia night, acoustic and folk music on Fridays, yoga classes, and more.

The new space in Roslindale will help the Jamaica Plain company expand its operations and events capacity, “As an event space, our JP location cannot support private events and our regular visitors at the same time. It’s impossible for us to close down JP on a Saturday, but opening Roslindale gives us the opportunity to do both.” The JP taproom has become a watering hole for locals to stop after work or a weekend afternoon, “We had a couple that had a first date here, and now they are getting married. We see proposals here, too.”

With the rising housing prices in JP, Lincecum has seen his neighbors and friends moving out of the JP neighborhood:

“Roslindale is a more affordable option for new families, and we are happy to expand our business and create an anchor over there. I didn’t want to be in the Seaport. My kids grew up going to Boston Public Schools in Roslindale, and my friends are moving to Roslindale too. We  were set on creating an anchor in the neighborhood to encourage more dynamic foot traffic in the neighborhood. This area was once all industrial, and now there are 14 restaurants in the area. We are part of a trifecta with Distraction brewing and Square Root Café, where people can come on a Friday night and can bounce around to each place.”

HBI is so pleased to see a local business thrive in the historic space. We look forward to enjoying a glass or two in such a beautiful space, especially considering the installation of the new glass window that looks out onto Adams Park.

Visit Turtle Swamp Brewing’s Roslindale Beer Gardenat 4228 Washington Street, Roslindale, MA 02131

  • Closed Monday – Wednesday
  • Thurs – Fri: 4pm – 11pm
  • Sat: 12pm – 11pm
  • Sun: 1pm – 8pm