Kristen O’Leary, 32, of Attleboro MA was a true New Englander. A super fan of Massachusetts’ sports teams and craft beer, she loved to bring people together through celebrations, road-trips, concerts, camping, brewery tours and beer festivals.
She had a true wanderlust and loved exploring every nook and cranny of New England as well as abroad to Ireland to learn more about her heritage and enjoy a fresh Guinness on tap. She was always in search of her next big adventure and her parents, Paul and Kathy O’Leary, were often along for the ride.
On the weekends, she’d pack the car with snacks and friends and head out for a day-trip of brewery tours. Her constant companion during these visits was the original Massachusetts Beer Trail passport map -- which at the time it was published in 2013, featured 47 craft breweries. It took her more than two-years to collect 42 stamps in her passport. Her conquest was nearly complete.
Then, out of nowhere, a pulmonary embolism took her life in September 2016. Her parents, Paul and Kathy, found her passport that fall as they were sorting through her personal belongings.
“Completing the passport was a goal she had set and we were determined to finish what she had started,” said Paul, Kristen’s father. “With each brewery visit we couldn’t help but have a lump in our throat as we remembered her and toasted to her life.”
The five final breweries on Kristen’s map included Amherst Brewing Co., Paper City Brewing Co. Northampton Brewery, Berkshire Brewing Co. and Cisco Brewers. “In August, we ventured out to Nantucket to Cisco Brewers for the last stop and the sun was shining down on us as we did it,” says Paul. “The mission was complete.”
Paul also inherited Kristen’s craft beer chest full of, “weird old beers,” as he put it, and he’s determined to try and taste each bottle, he says. She frequently tried to convert her mother, Kathy, to a craft beer drinker. It is still in the works but she does now add an orange wedge to her macro beers to spice them up a bit.
We raise our hearts and glasses to the O’Leary family and thank you for sharing your story with us. Sending love and good beer to you always.
The Mass Brewers Guild Team