Worcester’s craft brewery scene is getting an expansion this year, as Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company is close to opening a brick-and-mortar taproom and brewery that will feature not just beer, but also a kitchen with artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches.
Greater Good started as a concept in 2015. By summer 2016, the team was contract brewing in Connecticut, according to Founder and President Paul Wengender.
The brewery focuses on imperial-style beers, which are brews with big flavor and a big alcohol by volume content — 8 percent or higher. Greater Good touts itself as the first brewery in America to brew all imperial beverages.
But with that kind of product, the team was not sure at first if there were enough people who wanted high ABV beers.
Wengender said Greater Good took their beers out to Western Massachusetts to test the market.
“As the story goes, there was a bit of a brushfire about the brand,” he said in a Thursday phone interview. “We sold every drop.”
By November 2016, the brand had moved into Central Massachusetts, brewing and canning beers in Williamsburg under contract.
Worcester County has always been Greater Good’s distribution focal point, Wengender said.
“I’m a Worcester guy,” said Wengender, who lives in Sturbridge. “Worcester is our home and has been our home.”
So with the ongoing renaissance of dining and development in Worcester, and just three breweries to quench a growing thirst for craft beer, Greater Good started eyeing the city for an expansion.
Sometime this spring, Greater Good will debut its 2,500-square-foot pub brewery at 55 Millbrook St., which will be the largest taproom in Worcester.
“We are super pumped to be there in that rapidly expanding scene,” Wengender said. “We’re joining a stellar group of brewers…it’s been a great experience so far.”
Greater Good’s taproom will feature a bar with 14 draft lines. Greater Good expects to triple its production by the end of 2018 with the additional brewing space.
Along with the beer, the taproom will have a kitchen called “Toast.”, offering artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches, sausages, hot dogs, pretzels and other “elevated” bar snacks, Wengender said.
Inside the taproom will be games like cornhole and shuffleboard.
With the growth, Greater Good is seeking new hires to add to its brewery, taproom and kitchen staff, Wengender said.
The new location will become Greater Good’s primary production site, but the team will keep its Williamsburg space for satellite production.
Shaun Radzuik, Greater Good’s head brewer, is moving Chicopee to Worcester. He is the former head brewer at Rapscallion Brewery.
The next IPA to come out in the series will be called “Radz,” an ode to Radzuik, Wengender said.
Another popular brew is “Greylock“, an Imperial New England IPA that has a bit of a cult following because it goes down smooth despite its 12 percent ABV. With such big flavor and a high ABV, the brew no doubt got its name from Massachusetts’s highest peak.
Greater Good’s winter seasonal is “Good Night Moon,” an 11 percent ABV milk porter.
“New Englanders are accustomed to indulging in that beer in cold weather,” Wengender said. “That one we can’t keep on the shelves either.”