When Brewmaster Jack owner Tyler Guilmette was looking for a name for his new brewing company, he looked to his own family history.
When Tyler Guilmette was looking for a name for his new brewing company, he looked to his own family history.
"When I started thinking about starting a brewery, I came to find out that my grandfather Jack had started brewing during Prohibition," said the 25-year-old Northampton, Mass., resident. "He never mentioned that he was a bootlegger. I felt like it was a connection to my family's history."
Thus, Brewmaster Jack, which is just a little over a year old now, was born. So far, the company has created three beers.
Guilmette said he did not consider beer-making as a profession until a couple of years ago. "I'm completely not from the beer world. I was working in insurance," he said. "I had been homebrewing for a few years and I thought this would be fun."
Brewmaster Jack is a contract brewery. The beer is brewed at the Paper City Brewing Company in Holyoke, Mass.
The three Brewmaster Jack beers created so far are the flagship Stray Dog Lager, Ambrewsia and Total Eclipse.
The Stray Dog Lager is a 4.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) amber lager. It is malty with a nice little hop bite in the finish. It is a really well done lager, refreshing and crisp. It is a definitely a beer I can picture drinking often during the summer.
"I always describe it as a light Oktoberfest," said Guilmette. "It has less malt and more citrusy hops. I made the lager to fit my own tastes."
Total Eclipse is currently undergoing a name change. Right now it's called Total Eclipse Chocolate Rye Porter. The "chocolate" in the name will be dropped, Guilmette said.
Guilmette said when he decided to use chocolate rye in the beer, he thought he'd get more chocolate flavor out of it. However, the chocolate is reserved to just a hint at the finish, so the name is going to be changed.
The name change has improved my opinion of this beer. When you read "chocolate" you expect a lot of chocolate in it, not just a hint. However, now that its called a rye porter, the chocolate in the finish is a nice little unexpected treat.
Total Eclipse also uses lactose sugar, which gives this 6 percent ABV beer more body than expected.
Ambrewsia is called a double India pale ale, but it really falls somewhere between a single IPA and a double IPA due to its 7.7 percent ABV.
"I always call it an IPA and a half," Guilmette said. "I wanted to make something for the real craft beer lover -- the hop head."
Whatever you want to call it, the Ambrewsia is a really good beer. It is well balanced, and the hops won't smack you in the face like a lot of double IPAs. The malt backbone is not overly sweet, either. And, because the ABV is relatively low for the style, a 22-ounce bomber isn’t too much for most people.
"In the Ambrewsia, we use 100 percent local grain," Guilmette said. In fact, Guilmette strives to use as much local grain, mostly from Valley Malt in Hadley, as he possibly can. Every one of his beers is made with at least 25 percent local grain, he said.
Guilmette said he hopes to someday open a small brewery of his own where he can brew more complex beers, such as barrel-aged or small batch beers, while continuing to brew his other beers at Paper City.
Until then, Guilmette said he is working on recipes for new beers, such as a stout and another beer with roasted dandelion roots.
"It's just awesome," said Guilmette. "This doesn't feel like work and that's the best kind of job in the world."
Norman Miller is a MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff writer. Email email@example.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out the Beer Nut blog at blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut. Follow him on Twitter at @realbeernut or on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/beernutnorman.