July 12, 2017

Local breweries among the country's fastest growing

Jack's Abby Craft Lagers

Two Central Massachusetts breweries that increased production substantially over a four-year period were listed among the country's top regional breweries.

Wachusett Brewing Co. of Westminster and Jack's Abby Craft Lagers of Framingham both made the annual list, a ranking of the country's top local breweries from the Brewer's Association, a nonprofit trade association. The list was unveiled in the May/June 2017 issue of The New Brewer, the journal of the Brewer's Association.

The association shared data on how the country's top regional breweries did in terms of barrel production. According to Brewer's Association data, Jack's Abby grew its barrel production from 2,500 barrels in 2012 to 34,500 in 2016. Between 2012 and 2013, barrel production grew by 148 percent.

The brewery is set to produce 50,000 barrels this year, and its Framingham facility has the capacity to produce 125,000 barrels – more than double that amount.

Production for the first quarter of 2017 was up 70 percent from the same time period last year, according to Jack's Abby. The brewery installed three new 240 barrel fermentation tanks, and two more were scheduled to arrive in June.

Jack's Abby may be expanding rapidly, but it is still committed to traditional brewing techniques and ingredients for its craft lagers, said Co-owner and Head Brewer Jack Hendler.

"We work hard to foster a direct connection with a Bavarian maltster and hop grower by traveling to Germany twice a year to meet with our suppliers in person and learn as much as possible from the local brewing culture," said Hendler.

Wachusett produced 51,239 barrels in 2016, more than double the 26,351 it produced in 2012, according to the Brewer's Association. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, production grew by 36 percent. It grew by 12 percent between 2012 and 2013 and between 2013 and 2014, and by 14 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Other Central Massachusetts breweries are experiencing rapid growth. Wormtown Brewery in Worcester is expanding by 14,000 square feet at its 72 Shrewsbury St. location. With the expansion, Wormtown will be able to produce 50,000 barrels of beer per year. The expansion is expected to be complete in September.

Several other Massachusetts breweries made the Brewer's Association list, including Boston Beer Co., Harpoon Brewery, Cisco Brewers, Ipswich Ale Brewery, Berkshire Brewing Co. Inc., and Lord Hobo Brewing Co.

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