I know. I can’t believe it either. 5 years. Wow.
Let’s put this in perspective. When we made our very first batch of beer on December 9, 2011, it was right at the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Mars Curiosity Rover had just LAUNCHED from Cape Canaveral, the top song on Billboard was “Grenade” by Bruno Mars, and Macho Man Randy Savage had just saved the world, or so the theory goes…
I can’t begin to describe how excited I am with how far Brewmaster Jack has come in five years. This industry is made up of so many wonderful people and I am incredibly grateful for all of their help over the years. And I am of course equally grateful for all of the support from the beer-drinking people of Massachusetts and beyond.
So where do we go from here? What’s the next stop on our journey? Well after five years, I think it’s time to shake things up a little bit. We’ve got a some changes coming in the next week and there’s a lot to cover so let me lay out the table of contents:
- 5th Anniversary Party
- Brewmaster Jack in CANS
- Our new Art & Industry IPA (formerly known as C_LVIN IPA)
- Brewery-only releases (Double Dry Hopped Art & Industry plus two new sour beers)
- Expanded distribution to Vermont!
- New year-round lineup
First off, we will be having a 5th Anniversary party at our host facility (Brewmasters Tavern) in Williamsburg on Saturday, December 10th from 2 to 7 PM. There will be live music (3 to 5 PM), delicious food, and four new beers that will all be released that day! More on that below. In the meantime, check out details on our Facebook page.
Next, and perhaps most importantly, we’ll be moving all of our IPA’s into 16 oz cans starting this week. This is something I’ve been hoping to do for years and, thanks to our friends at Brewmasters Brewing Services, we finally have the opportunity. The switch will start with a new IPA called Art & Industry. This beer is based on the outrageously popular C_LVIN IPA we canned in June as part of a collaboration with Abandoned Building Brewery. It is fermented with pineapple juice and hopped with loads of Galaxy and Mosaic. There will also be a limited amount (20 cases) of a double dry hopped version that will only be available at the brewery. The last time we made this beer, we were only able to make enough to satiate folks in Western Mass. But this time, we’ll be sending it across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Vermont! It will also be available in eleven select states through our online partner, Tavour.
The next beer to drop into cans will be Ambrewsia IPA. These cans will hit the market in Western Mass around December 14th. As we get a handle on the amount of demand for Ambrewsia cans in the month of December, we’ll start to expand availability eastward. During this expansion, Ambrewsia bottles will still continue to be available in the rest of Massachusetts.
This leads into my next point: starting on December 15th, Brewmaster Jack will be expanding distribution of select beers to Vermont! We will kick off with Tennessee Prinse Barrel Aged Quad, Near & Dear Stout, and Art & Industry IPA. Ambrewsia IPA will also be available in early 2017.
Lastly, we will also be releasing two new limited SOUR beers at the brewery on December 10th! Fields of Butterflies is a lager aged in chardonnay barrels with raspberries, apricots, and peaches. Our second beer, Radical Shift, is also aged in chardonnay barrels but instead we added blackberries, red tart cherries, and dry hopped with Mosaic hops. Both beers will be available at Brewmasters Tavern in Williamsburg in 22 oz bottles. We are planning on bottling approximately 30 cases of each.
These new brewery-only releases will mark the beginning of our new push to start producing more special small-batch beers. In the works for 2017 we have more barrel-aged sours, barrel-aged stouts, and farmhouse ales. Stay tuned for more information on those.
On a sadder note, this new phase of Brewmaster Jack will mean changes for our year-round lineup. Starting this month, we will be discontinuing our Stray Dog Lager for the foreseeable future. We will also be limiting our Total Eclipse Porter to seasonal availability. Unfortunately, production of these two beers on a year-round basis just no longer made sense for us. On the bright side, this allows for more time and focus on brewing other delicious beers.
Again, let me just say how absolutely thrilled I am to have made it to the five year mark. Many MANY thanks to all who have supported us over the years as consumers, retailers, and distributors. And a very special thanks to all of our full time and part time employees over the years: Taylor, Patrick, Mary, Wes, J, Andy, Nate, Simon, and Mike. None of this would have been possible without you.
So come join us on December 10th at Brewmaster’s Tavern in Williamsburg! 2 to 7 PM!
Prinsipia Quad Gets a Makeover
This week, our newest beer will be hitting shelves in Massachusetts. It’s called Tennessee Prinse and it’s one of our best beers yet. Bold flavors of cherry, candied plum, and tobacco typical of a Quadrupel Ale give way to a lasting finish of toffee and vanilla; the result of months of aging in freshly-emptied Tennessee Whiskey barrels. The 11.5% alcohol by volume adds a touch of warmth without being too harsh. Tennessee Prinse will be available in four packs of twelve ounce bottles.
Tennessee Prinse is a reincarnation of the single-batch barrel aged Prinsipia Quad which hit shelves earlier this year. We were pretty happy with the outcome of that beer and apparently we weren’t alone. Users of Beer Advocate rated it as one of the top 25 Quads in the world.
But barrel aged Prinsipia was missing something; actually it was missing a couple somethings. First, the beer had turned out a little drier than earlier test batches. This gave it a somewhat thin mouthfeel and detracted from the thick whiskey flavors encapsulated in the beer. But even beyond the minor flaw in mouthfeel, the beer was lacking its own identity. The barrel aged version of Prinsipia was an entirely different animal from its base and thus required an entirely different name.
And so Tennessee Prinse was born. We made minor fluctuations in the recipe to help bring a little more sweetness to the table (but not too much). That tiny bit of extra residual sugar helps bring out much more of the toffee and vanilla flavors from the barrel.
Oh, you don’t live in Massachusetts? No worries. Tennessee Prinse will be available through our West Coast partner, Tavour, for shipments direct to your doorstep in Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. We will also be shipping limited amounts to Denmark, United Kingdom, and select states in the Southeastern US.
Please visit our website to learn more about our other beers.
Starting this week, you’ll start seeing our newest beer on shelves and draft lines in your neighborhood. It’s called Jan (pronounced like “yahn”) and there’s a great story behind it.
Thanks to our new partnership with the Massachusetts Beverage Alliance, we were able to make some changes to the brand and to our packaging that I had been dying to make for the past couple years. You may have noticed we re-designed the logo and plastered it all over the new four packs of Ambrewsia and Total Eclipse. All of that design work was done by my friend Jan Šabach.
When Jan and I first met to discuss ideas for the new look, he told me about growing up in Prague, only an hour away from where the first Czech Pilsners were brewed. Listening to him talk about those delicious lagers gave me the itch to brew one of my own. At the time I was trying to plan out seasonal beers for 2015 and thought a Pilsner would be the perfect beer for a nice spring day. We threw around ideas to name the beer but in the end it seemed Jan would be the only name fit for a Czech Pilsner. Not only did the name pay homage to the guy who inspired the beer, it would also be a tool in Jan’s endless quest to teach Americans to pronounce his name correctly.
Go give Jan Czech Pilsner a try. And while you’re at it check out the real Jan’s website… www.codeswitchdesign.com
First off, let me apologize for taking two and a half years to start this blog. Starting a beer company is oodles of fun but it also takes up oodles of time. On the bright side, I’ve learned a whole lot since 2011 and hopefully that means I’ll write more interesting blog posts.
I’ll try to be short and to the point with these posts so let’s get right to it. And if you have something you want me to write about, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve got a lot of exciting new beers planned for the next year and a lot of them are centered around delicious hop varieties. I should mention this is a bit of a deviation from where I started out with Brewmaster Jack. The only beer I sold for the first eight months of business was Stray Dog Lager, a low alcohol Vienna lager meant to add local flavor into one of my favorite beer styles. It has done extraordinarily well for us. As I am writing this, Stray Dog Lager is listed on BeerAdvocate as being the 35th best American Amber Lager. But after awhile I decided to try brewing some bigger styles of beer; first Ambrewsia IPA then Total Eclipse Rye Porter. It became very clear to me after that; the people want big flavor. So here’s what we’re doing:
At the heart of our new beers has been a re-vamped version of Ambrewsia. If you haven’t tried it, hold off on reading the rest of this post and go buy it right now. The hop profile, which was once dominated by Columbus, is now a medley of Galaxy, Simcoe, and Amarillo. The grain bill, originally just 2 row barley and crystal malt, is now loaded with Vienna malt to give a rich malty backbone. I’ve also worked on fine-tuning the mineral content of the water, the fermentation temperature, and the dry-hopping schedule to really make those hop flavors pop. Lastly, thanks to our sales superhero Mary Dowd, we’re able to work with bar managers around the state to set up a posthaste delivery system. It works like this — bars pre-order kegs of Ambrewsia when a new batch is in the tanks. As soon as the kegs are filled they are rolled into a delivery truck and brought straight to the bar within 48 hours. You can’t beat that kind of freshness.
Hop Essence Series
The Hop Essence Series will be coming to a close in August with the release of Hallertau Blanc, a new German hop variety from the same farm that brought us Mandarina Bavaria (released in May) and Huell Melon (set for release in July). To celebrate the culmination of the Hop Essence Series, I’ll be brewing up a monster IPA with two of my favorite varieties, Galaxy and Motueka. This beer will be brewed every other month for the foreseeable future. On opposing months I’ll be brewing up a single-hop Citra DIPA.
While brewing an IPA is fun, I am really looking forward to experimenting with some new styles this fall and winter. On the docket I’ve got an abbey quad, coffee stout, Berliner weisse, and a saison. Not in any particular order. I like to keep it loose.
Simcoe and Mosaic
Since the Mosaic and Simcoe Hop Essence beers have come out I’ve been getting e-mails daily from people asking when they will be back. So here’s the short of it: if our hop contracts come through this fall/winter, we’ll have enough to put out at least two releases of each in 2015. So dammit, keep your fingers crossed for a good harvest.