“So, I was thinking of an idea for a name,” said Mike Lincoln, owner and brewer of the up and coming Noble Jay Brewing Company, “but everything was taken. I looked it up . . . but I’d see that it was already a brewery! I wanted something unique, though, and that made me think of my mom. She passed away when I was a baby. Her name was Patricia Jay. So, I thought, how could I incorporate her name? I researched and found that Patricia and Patrick in Latin means Noble and Jay is her middle name—everybody called her Jay anyway. So, I figured that no one else was going to take that name for a brewery.”
Well, that answers how the name Noble Jay was created, but there are still lots of questions to answer. Luckily, we were able to talk with Mike about his plans for the brewery that is slated to open between 2015-2016 in East Lyme. So, stick with us, and we’ll take you through Mike’s brewing experiences, problems that he’s running into, his thoughts on CT beer, the beers that he’s brewing, some details on the brewery, and being a part of the CT beer community.
I’ve been homebrewing since 99 in Maine. I work a lot, travel: it’s becoming tiring. So, this past winter, I was working on a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. I was working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. By the end of that, I was thinking that it was getting old. I was also getting tired of brewing on a small scale. Around that time I picked up the SABCO Brew-Magic system.
Working on a bigger scale made me want to open up a big brewery. I felt like there’s a big gap in the brewing map. I figure if I work this much, I’d rather work this much for myself. I’m not afraid of hard work . . .
East Lyme is the idea! They are trying to redo the liquor laws, such as serving alcohol nearby churches. I’ve been very careful to include the community in the process and wanted to get the town’s approval first before I went ahead. Everybody has been very receptive so far.
Adding to the CT Beer Scene
There are a lot of IPAs out there, and I love them, but I think there’s a lot more beer styles out there other than IPAs. I actually want to make some lagers. I have a Schwarzbier, I’ve got a Dunkel, and I just started brewing Mo Pilsner, an American Pilsner. It’s like a pre-prohibition style lager with more body. So, I’d like to add more lager styles.
I’m not worried about coming up with the next biggest beer . . . I just want to make good beer, I just want to wow everybody. I just want to brew beers that I want to drink or drink beer that I want to try. I want to be local, brew local. I also want to follow what the drinkers say. If they like something, then they’ll help me, if they don’t like something, I can change it up for them.
Flagship Beers and Styles
I’m not exactly sure which one it’s going to be yet. My Schwarzbier, Major Lager (most likely the name) is a really easy to drink dark lager. It’s not that heavy, just a bit dark, but no burnt taste like you often get. You can have a liter of it because it’s only about 4.5-5% alcohol. My classic American Pilsner is a little stronger than the Schwarzbier, but still light and very sessionable. It’s very refreshing and it has flavor. So, while the bigger breweries use other ingredients to cheapen the product, I’m using ingredients like corn in the American Pilsner to be authentic. Some other beers in the works are a Belgian, an American Brown Ale (Lay it Down), a Malted Porter (Fatty Boom Boom), a Barleywine, a French Saison (Sassy Bird), and some IPAs like my Imperial, Here Comes Trouble.
The Brewery and Production
I’m starting as a nano brewery on a 3 barrel system. It’s hard to keep up with demand and it’s going to be expensive, but I want to be successful. I’m going to make as much beer as humanly possible, probably producing 200 barrels in the first year. Then, based on that, anything is possible. I can always expand after that.
The space is 800 sq feet but I can also expand. That also includes a 14 seat bar. I’m trying to get it so we can sell growlers and pints together, too. East Lyme laws might make it difficult. Basically, I want people to sit down, have a beer, enjoy, have a growler to go.
Canning and bottling might be in the future, but not right away. In the first year I won’t have distribution or kegs, either unless it gets out of control with demand. Maybe I’ll take on one account in that first year, you never know.
The Reception from CT Beer People
People have been so kind and helpful. Mike at Thimble Island said he’d help out and lots of other people said they’d help out, even breweries in MA. I actually went on a CT Brewery Bus Tour and it was a fun time. I got to meet Will Siss and Bryon Turner. We Started at Firefly, moved to Barley Vine, then went to Relic, then Stubborn Beauty, and Shebeen. Honestly, I couldn’t keep track of the beer . . . there was so much. At Shebeen they just kept bringing out flights.
I had the chance to talk to some brewers and owners, but each brewery was packed, and some were actually out brewing. I just enjoyed the tour. Bryon let me bring samples on the bus, too. I had four beers with me: my Dark Lager, Saison, American Brown, and Belgian Ale. Between each stop I poured everybody a glass, and let them try each beer. The comments were very positive, so that made me happy.
We realize that the opening is still pretty far off, but we’re excited to see Mike add more variety to the CT beer scene. It’ll also be great as Noble Jay helps spread out the map of CT breweries. Little by little, towns and cities are changing their views on beer, and this is certainly a step in the right direction for CT.
Dan and Kristien