Brewmaster Jack, based in Northhampton, MA, is among the many breweries embracing a focus on local ingredients. All Brewmaster Jack beers use at least 25% organic, locally malted grains from Valley Malt in Hadley, MA. They hope to reach the point where all of their malts are locally sourced, but there are still a limited number of suppliers in New England. In addition to supporting local farmers and malters, Brewmaster Jack encourages homebrewing, based on the belief that brewing your own beer helps increase your understanding and appreciation for craft beer, an ethos I agree with completely. One of Brewmaster Jack’s yearlong brews is Aquila, an American pale ale brewed with five types of grain and four varieties of hops. Aquila is named after a constellation that houses a giant cloud of ethanol, floating in outer space.
Brewmaster Jack Aquila pours an amber gold, clear with a sustained white head. The smell is distinctive of American hops, some citrus fruit and earthy aromas, solid but not overpowering. The first taste is all hops, lemon and grapefruit with a little pine, followed by a touch of malt in the backbone and a pleasantly bitter finish. At 40 IBU’s the bitterness is present without being overdone, exactly what you aim for in an American pale ale. The beer is highly carbonated, with a light mouthfeel, very enjoyable to drink. Aquila weighs in at 5.8% ABV, solid for a pale ale. Overall an easy to drink and appropriately hoppy version of the style. I sometimes find that IPAs can overwhelm food, but a drinkable pale ale like this can provide a bitter complement to your pork chops, fall vegetables or pizza without wrecking your palate. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.