February 27, 2018
Manufacturing Insights

Love of Guinness breeds new Wachusett beer

Wachusett Brewing President Christian McMahan

The Westminster-based Wachusett Brewing Co. has unleashed a new beer called the Fergal Project, a collaboration between the brewery and former Guinness brewer Fergal Murray, now a brewery consultant. The beer is hitting stores and taps just in time for St. Patrick's Day and is the first of the brewery's 1794 series, which is an ode to the year the barn in the brewery's logo was built. In an interview with the WBJ, President Christian McMahan talked about working with a famous beermaker.

How did you meet Fergal Murray?

Fergal and I worked together when I was lead of Guinness marketing back in the mid 2000's. He would come over two times a year to work with us, and there was no better global ambassador of beer than Fergal.

Were you a fan of Guinness before?

Guinness is one of the worlds greatest beers. It has always been and will always be one of my personal favorites.

What was it like to work with the guy who was in charge of making one of the most famous beers in the world?

The amazing thing about Fergal is with all of his global accolades and recognition, how humble and down to earth he is. He is one of those guys who gets the greatest compliment of "a guy I would like to sit and have a beer with." That is Fergal at his core.

What makes this a New England-style stout?

The concept that Fergal and our team came up with was to combine Fergal's knowledge of stouts with the success we are having with making Wally, our New England IPA, and bringing them together. The Fergal Project represents this by using Irish malts known by Fergal and combining them with some of the hops that we use in our Wally New England IPA and that's how we got to a New England Stout.

Can you taste those hops giving IPAs that distinct taste?

It was important to make sure you could distinguish them but in a way that doesn't overpower the beer. People really enjoy stouts for the malt character, and we wanted to make sure that still came through with the complement of the hops that we added.

What other stouts does Wachusett make?

Well, currently we have five other stouts that we have brewed for the St. Patrick's Day season. We have two stouts we are making for most of the year, G.O.A.T. Milk Stout and our newest stout, Latte Da, which is a collaboration with Red Barn Coffee Roasters out of Upton. For St. Patrick's Day we are releasing three limited edition stouts, Tiramisu, Salted Caramel and Blood Orange.

Why choose this beer to kick off the 1794 series?

The 1794 Series is an extremely important initiative for us both now and in the future. We couldn't think of a better way to introduce this series to craft beer consumers than a collaboration with a brewing legend like Fergal.

How long will this beer be around?

Very limited, we expect it to be gone before St. Patrick's Day.

What other fun collaborations are on tap for this series or others?

We are having a lot of fun at this point, and we are using our Brew Yard as a test kitchen for future 1974 collaborations. One of our favorites right now is a beer called Willy Dilly. This beer is a collaboration with Stretch's Pickles in Westminster where we infuse pickle brine into an East Coast IPA. It has been a huge hit so far. So, we will see if that is the next one on tap, no pun intended!

Can we have some beer?

HA! Our Central Mass. distributor, Atlas Distributing of Auburn, is the best in the business. So, I am sure you will be able to find The Fergal Project in a store or pub near you very soon!

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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