What’s better about owning your own brewery? How about owning the first brewery in West Springfield, MA! In this post, we will be introducing you to the owner of a new up-and-coming brewery, Two Weeks Notice. Now, you may be thinking, there seems to be a new brewery opening up every week; but how many of them can claim to be the first in their community? Needless to say, this is definitely a source of pride for the residents. Not to mention breweries are a great addition to the immediate economy, encourage local sourcing, and all-in-all invite a different level of clientele who appreciate good crafts, family and friends. Two Weeks Notice is no exception. Keeping up with The Barleymen Tradition, we would love to get you acquainted with this local brewery, and this time before it even opens!
As Chris and I pulled up to the old meat processing plant on Baldwin street in West Springfield, it’s amazing to think what these humble one story accommodations have brewing inside. The open garage door beckoned us with a radiant yellow light, and from the back of the brewery we meet the beaming smile face of Two Weeks’ Co-owner and Master Brewer, Mark Avery.
From the moment we met up, I had a great feeling about this place. As we exchanged greetings, Mark met us with that big smile, warm welcome, an open can of Night Shift and a Foam Brewing baseball cap. Already we can see he has prudent sense of taste.
We were able to pick Mark’s brain a bit when it came to his preferred style of beer. We also talked shop about types of beer styles and methods. At first, the focus will be where the local beer scene is focused. Just look at any restaurant or bar -practically world wide- and you will see India Pale Ale’s are swarming the taps. Of course a solid New England Style IPA (or two) will be the common feature at Two weeks, however, after our discussion there is a strong insinuation of a few creative concoctions to wow us. Onward to the tour.
We were first taken to the brew room, showcasing all the shiny fresh new equipment, from conical fermenters to brite tanks and unitanks. But wait! There’s more! What is a brewery without brewing equipment like hot liquor and mash tuns, and a boil kettle. All these pieces of apparatus with room for expansion (no doubt there will be growth).
We explored the water treatment room (because what’s beer without properly treated water), and the makings of the “New England inspired” tap room. Around the corner from that, and through the garage door we behold what is to become the beer garden. We can’t wait until this oasis of West Side is providing its sustenance to thirsty patrons! Two Weeks Notice is absolutely setting the bar high, and we have no doubt they will deliver. Welcome to West Springfield guys!
As you can see, it’s still a work in progress and it’s a renovation frenzy! Isn’t it exciting to see the pieces fit together? Let’s continue this journey shall we? Aside from a tour of the complex, we were able to chat with Mark Avery a bit about the art that is beer, and pick his brain about beer styles and preferences. Some off record, and some, well …
The Barley Men – So Mark, as an entrepreneur in the craft beer world, we’d love to know what is your philosophy on brewing/beer?
Mark – I think balance is key. I look for balance not only in the beers I brew but the beers I drink. As far as my personal philosophy on brewing, never think your beer is perfect. There is always room for
TBM – That’s a great response! Very humble too. I find that a lot of beers seem to improve over time, while staying true to their original recipes. I guess with all living things, they tend to grow and mature. Same for beer. So, what made you want to start brewing?
Mark – I had started seeking out tasty beers when I was of legal age, like Sierra Nevada and whatever micro brew I could find at the time, which wasn’t much. And then in my early 20’s, around 2003/2004 I saw an episode on the History channel about the history of brewing. I was fascinated and thought it was the coolest thing ever. From that point forward I wanted to be involved in the industry somehow. I didn’t care what it was, packaging, cleaning kegs, brand ambassador, whatever I could get. But being in my early 20’s I made a lot of not-so-great decisions and I ended up moving back home to my parents. From there I kept seeking out great beers and wanting to homebrew. Then 7 years ago my wife bought my first homebrew kit, and from there I was hooked. This is all her fault.
TBM – Sure, blame the wife! Good for her! So the love of your life got you hooked on your life’s passion eh? We are kindred spirits in a way, for the longest time Sierra was my go-to, due to their balance and variety. And the history and science behind it all is captivating! So was it the homebrew kit? or was it any beer in particular that inspired you in your craft? Where where do you draw your inspiration?
Mark -I draw inspiration from a lot of things. Being a former musician, creativity was always kind of running through my brain. And brewing is another version of creativity and art. I’ve created beers inspired by music I love, friends who I’ve lost, and sometimes just a desire to be weird. As far as actual brewers that I follow/followed that inspired me- John Kimmich, Sean Lawson, Shaun Hill, Nate Lanier, Noah Bissell.
TBM – Wow Mark, I can tell there is depth to you, and we are only tapping the surface. I can only imagine what these inspirations are going to blossom into with a full fledged brewery up and running. Now, as you are fully aware, there’s a lot of breweries popping – to put it mildly. Do you have any words of advice for any aspiring brewers?
Mark – Don’t get frustrated. You’ll have bad batches. Clean, clean, clean, and clean more. Always continue to learn, whether it’s from books, blogs, fellow brewers etc, etc.
TBM – We can already tell you’re going to have a clean brewery! Even while building, it looks pristine. Now, here’s the big question; in this IPA, hop-flooded market if you had to choose a style of beer what would be your favorite?
Mark – My “Deserted Island” beer would be Sierra Nevada pale ale. In my opinion, the perfect beer. No matter where you are in the country, no matter what store you buy it from, it always tastes the same. There is something to be said about that.
TBM – Sierra Nevada is meticulous when it comes to consistency and quality, great choice! We love to hear what other brewers drink, it’s like asking a Dentist, where do you get your teeth done? Besides being the first brewery to be in West Springfield, what do you think makes your brewery unique to New England, let alone MA?
Mark – It’s a ballsy move opening up a brewery, especially in New England with all these amazing breweries. I think what will set us apart will be the beer first and foremost. I think our taproom will provide a cool low key non-pretentious space that will have killer art work on the walls, great music playing always and a staff that will make the experience come together.
TBM– We are itching at the bit here. After talking about some of our mutually liked New England breweries, I can’t wait to see the aftermath of those inspirational products. I’m also looking forward to less time in line, and less distance to travel time for great beer. Bring it on!
Which one of your beers would you recommend as an introduction to Two Weeks, for someone who has not had the experience?
Mark– Resignation will be our house IPA. Low bitterness, soft on the palate and a balanced hop flavor and aroma. I hope it’s the beer that’s sought after. I’ve brewed it over 100 times at this point. Its the beer that won homebrew contests, it’s my baby.
TBM – We’re sure it will make you a proud papa! Doubtless it will satisfy all the hop-heads out there. So, you said you’ve made that over 100 times. The more you brew though, it leaves it open for some not-so-perfect turn outs, are their any funny stories? Every beer tells a tale.
Mark– ACTUALLY! Funny story, last week I dry hopped a beer that still needed to come down a few points, meaning fermentation wasn’t complete. Well I thought I was in the clear, but as I added the dry hops and closed the fermenter, I noticed the blow off tube going a little crazier than normal. Next thing I know, dry hop volcano! Luckily I didn’t lose too much volume, but the cleanup sucked.
TBM – A Hopcano? Is that name taken yet? Sorry, I abound with dad jokes. Well Mark, we thank you so much for your time and all the effort you are putting into your passion- thank your wife’s time and effort too! Welcome to West Side and keep up the great work. We look forward to frequenting your brewery!
For updates on Two Weeks Notice Brewing please click here.
I love the history of beer and how its made, the whole beer experience. My philosophy is, finding your beer is like finding your soul-mate, you may have a long search, and learn some lessons, but there is a beer that’s just right for you.