Nick Bolitho recently found out what it takes to bring a new beer to market.
Bolitho and business partner Max Heinegg are the founders of Medford Brewing Co., which currently consists of the brand and a single beer.
Medford Brewing Co.’s current offering, an American pale ale, took Bolitho and Heinegg eight or nine years of tweaking to perfect. Heinegg is a longtime homebrewer and an English teacher at Medford High School. He and Bolitho met through each other’s kids, swapping beer stories and drinking homebrew at social gatherings.
“I’m a bit of a half-assed brewer,” says Bolitho. “I’m not the best. But Max is very accomplished.”
Once it was established that Heinegg would do the brewing, Bolitho went about the process of learning what it would take to bring the idea to fruition. They knew they wanted to start out contract brewing the beer at another brewery, but it took months to nail down a place to do it.
“And then there’s things like cans, and where do you get them from?” says Bolitho. “You’re sourcing 4-pack holders and pricing them out.”
All the while the duo was holding little tasting parties, asking friends and family to vote for the final formula of something the two see a market need for: a craft beer whose first goal is approachability.
“It’s all getting a little extreme these days,” says Bolitho. “When I go into a brewpub with friends, half the people are cringing because there’s nothing there they want to drink. Or they’re drinking their beer but they’re nursing it.
“We think there’s a market for the gourmet side of beer, rather than the extreme.”
At 6 percent alcohol by volume, Medford Brewing Co. American Pale Ale is neither big nor little. Dry hopping brings out subtle aromas of grapefruit and lemon zest, but you have to sniff deeply to pick them up. On the palate the malt is chewy, substantial, and the beer finishes crisp instead of bitter. It’s one you could drink all afternoon.
“It’s a pretty complexly made beer that comes across in a simple manner,” says Bolitho.
While Heinegg works on a new beer — an IPA — Bolitho says he’s currently looking for space in Medford to open a brewery, preferably in Medford Square. In the meantime, Medford Brewing Co.’s American pale can be found in about 30 locations across Massachusetts, including Whole Foods in the South End and several Craft Beer Cellar stores.Gary Dzen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen