When you name your company Shakesbeer, you’re bound to be approached by theater-loving aesthetes dropping their favorite lines.
“It’s almost constant,” says Mike Sartor, who along with his wife, Jessie, founded the Hingham-based Shakesbeer Beverages company last year. “It keeps me on my toes to make sure I’ve got the right street cred.”
The couple met at Colgate, where Jessie was an English major and Mike was “a guy who liked beer a lot.” She wrote an honors thesis on the women in William Shakespeare’s plays. Like many other folks who start their own breweries, he’s an avid homebrewer who has decided to strike out on his own.
Shakesbeer currently makes two beers.
The company introduces Act 1, a hazy, 5.5 percent ABV New England-style IPA, on its website with a verse:
“From grains of olde and hops of new; Our maiden Taming of the Brew; With golden hue and citrus air; An ale refined with modern flair.”
A stronger IPA, The Tempest, is named after one of the British playwright’s well-known works.
“Maybe I’m a nerdy pun guy, but I really liked Shakesbeer as a brand for a long time,” says Sartor, who points to the accessibility of Shakespeare’s plays as a link with beer’s reputation as a drink for the common man or woman. “Maybe it was low-hanging fruit.”
All of this might not work if the beer wasn’t any good. At 7.7 percent ABV, The Tempest features 6 hop varieties but drinks like a much lighter brew, with pops of grapefruit and orange peel and a subtle bitterness representative of the style. (The Brewers Association, a trade organization representing small and independent brewers, just officially recognized “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA” as official styles to be judged in competitions, so expect to see even more of these beers in the coming year). Strip out the literary references and The Tempest is an above-average IPA, worth seeking out regardless of whether you’ve seen a Shakespeare-in-the-park production of “Othello.”
Shakesbeer doesn’t have a physical brewery. Sartor currently brews at Shebeen Brewing Co. in Wolcott, Conn. He’s moving a portion of that production to Ipswich in the coming months, and someday the couple would like to open up their own shop in Hingham. The company’s third beer, a hoppy pale ale brewed with lemon zest and aptly named A Midsummer Night’s Dream, will be released May 1.