Remember visiting your grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ home? Exploring the dark, dank basement, the heater hissing like a demon? This is just how brewer Tyler Guilmette remembers visiting his great-grandfather’s house in Vermont. He later found himself home-brewing out of a similar environment, no longer feeling the dread of walking down the dark staircase but instead descending into a habitat perfect for brewing beer. It’s funny that 80 years apart, Tyler has found himself brewing in a similar basement as his great-grandfather Jack used to, unbeknownst to Tyler at the time.
As an homage to his family connection with brewing, Tyler, the true brewmaster of Brewmaster Jack, named the company for his great-grandfather. At 25 years young, Tyler is now brewing, marketing and distributing his beer around New England. Though he acknowledges that he has a lot to learn, Tyler uses the skill sets of his generation—single, no kids, no mortgage—to put his all into Brewmaster Jack. “Living on a shoestring budget seems to be the most widespread skill among twenty-somethings and that lets me put any profit right back into the business” he tells me, noting that self-distributing beer is a labor-intensive game.
That’s right, Brewmaster Jack is basically a one-man band with Tyler playing all the instruments. His days vary, but are usually comprised of meeting customers, making & taking phone calls, making deliveries, labeling bottles, warehousing product, hunting down hops and malt, working on the website, doing local tastings and brewing both commercial and test batches of beer. “And sometimes I eat and sleep,” he says.
But Tyler gets by with a little help from his friends. His local friends, that is. Between the time that Tyler gets to eat and sleep, he’s buying malt from Valley Malt, a farm in Hadley, MA that turns grain into malt. He’s also picking up hops from Four Star Farms in Northfield, MA and getting his six pack carriers from Tiger Press in East Longmeadow, MA. And although the dark, dank basement of yesteryear was his original brewing ground, Tyler now contracts all his beers out of Paper City Brewery in Holyoke, MA, meaning his recipes are brewed to his specification, but using their equipment.
Tyler’s proud to be relying on these local resources for his beer, especially for their environmental implications. “You indirectly saved a butt-load of fossil fuels from being burned since the grain has only travelled thirty miles from the field to your glass. They have opened up an entire industry to farmers in Massachusetts. And they’re great people on top of that. It’s just a good situation for everyone,” he explains. “How can I ask my community to buy local if I don’t do the same?”
I think we can agree with Tyler on that. Buying locally gives us all a unique opportunity in this day and age to reach out and forge relationships with the makers of our food, to reduce fossil fuels and ultimately to share the bounty with our community. But what is most refreshing about Tyler’s brew is his attitude. “In 10-20 years, if things are going the way they are now, I’ll be happy.” And us beer drinkers will be happy too.
Stop by the shop tonight, March 14, from 5-7pm to meet Tyler & sample a few of his beers with our cheeses!