Move over Martha, there’s a new gal in town: Bad Martha, a new craft beer company. The company is premiering two beers this month in Island package stores and restaurants, a summer ale and an extra special pale ale. Beer will be available for tasting at the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust annual Taste of the Vineyard Stroll on Thursday night.
Brewmaster Jared Rouben said he designed the beers to reflect the “treasure chest” of food available on the Island. Pairing with seafood was the focus for the summer ale.
“The aromatics from the hops we use get that lemon characteristic, it’s a natural pairing for fresh fish,” he said. “When I designed it I envisioned all that fresh seafood and for me that was a perfect pairing.”
For the Martha’s Vineyard Ale, the ESP, Mr. Rouben designed a fuller-bodied beer to go with steaks, chops and backyard grilling.
“When I thought of the Vineyard, not only would we want something we could consume everyday but something with a little bit of body, some dried fruit aromatics like apricot and English malt tones. If you were grilling a burger or a steak, that was the beer for me.”
And there’s a special local ingredient — Vineyard grape leaves.
“We explored beach plums and a couple of other things but we thought...it was part of the history here and we wanted to incorporate that,” said Mr. Rouben, previously a brewmaster at Goose Island in Chicago.
Bad Martha was founded by longtime summer resident Jonathan Blum and Island real estate developer Peter Rosbeck. Mr. Blum, who is an executive at Yum Foods, said he has had a longtime passion for beer and wanted to match this with a socially responsible business model. The first 10 per cent of all beer profits will be donated to a hunger-related cause in the area where the beer is sold. On the Island, money will go towards the Island Food Pantry.
“We feel that it’s important to give back to the community first,” he said. “It all goes back to our slogan — get bad, do good.”
With social responsibility comes an element of fun, too, Mr. Blum said. There’s a legend behind the story of Bad Martha. The year was 1602 and Englishman Bartholomew Gosnold had landed on Martha’s Vineyard. He searched far and wide on the tiny island for ingredients to brew ale for his crew. Coming up empty handed, he fell asleep on the shores. A mermaid then appeared and led him to what would become his secret ingredient, grape leaves, and a beer was born.
“It’s a purely fictitious part of the lore of the brand and we’re trying to have a little fun with it,” Mr. Blum said.
The beer is being brewed in Ipswich and is available on the Vineyard this summer, with plans to expand across the Northeast and later nationally. Mr. Blum said he hopes to have a retail space in the future, possibly in Edgartown with a tasting room and products available for sale.
But for now the company is focusing on the two beers, with seasonal beers in the works.
“Our first focus is on the Island, that’s what makes this product so special,” Mr. Rouben said. “We want to make sure every beer pours perfectly and we’ll grow from there.”