Having graduated from university not all that long before moving to this area, one of the first events I was drawn to in the Boston area was the famous "Harpoon Fest". This event is held once per season (4 times annually) and could best be described as a giant beer blast in college student speak. Not really geared for sophisticates or stodgy Boston upper-crust; most of the crowd that gathers at these events is 20-something.
The Harpoon Brewery is located in South Boston's Marine Industrial Park on the Fort Point Channel. Most days, the brewery is a typical manufacturing environment with your occasional factory tour. Large hoppers of hops and other fermentation ingredients stand around the plant ready to produce the famous Harpoon beer. All the Harpoon beer you can purchase nationwide is brewed here or in their Vermont facilities.
On the days of the Harpoon Fests, the Harpoon Brewery is transformed from a manufacturing environment to a gathering place. They typically set up several large tents (heated for the Winter-month's festivals) and stages for live entertainment. They emphasize the season's new brew (IE. the Summer has IPA), but have booths offering Harpoon's other varieties as well.
Admission to the Harpoon fest is usually about $10 and includes a souvenir pub glass. Once you get your glass, tokens to get beer at one of the stands must be purchased separately (last time it was $2.50/drink). You give a token to your brew-tender of choice and they fill or refill your glass.
Lines to get into the Harpoon Fest are always very long, but tend to be lighter earlier in the day. Once you're inside, the beer lines are also very long- but at least they have live entertainment in the form of a band as you wait.
Harpoon Fests always have a large crowd- not a good place to go if you're the slightest bit claustrophobic or you prefer not to have beer spilled on you (it is almost unavoidable). Still, for the 20-something crowd there is a magnetic attraction to these festivals. The Harpoon Brewery sounds like a strange place for a major social gathering, but that is what makes these festivals so fun. They offer a very laid back environment perfect for mingling and meeting up with different friends.
If you're in Boston on the weekend of a Harpoon Festival and think that it sounds the slightest bit fun, I would definitely recommend checking it out. You can find more information about upcoming festivals at www.harpoonbrewery.com . For extra discounts on admission to the festivals you can join the brewery's "Friends of Harpoon" network through their website.