Like wedding presents are ought to do, Matt Belson’s homebrewing kit sat neglected, collecting dust for almost a decade in his Cape Cod basement. Then one day he was introduced to fellow Harwich resident Michael Segerson through his wife, and almost immediately, that once forgotten relic became the most overused accessory in the house. Fueled by a mutual love of craft beer, the two became “obsessive” homebrewers, “who brewed beer, talked about beer, and thought about beer, all the time.”
“I don’t know whether or not we had some preternatural ability to brew good beer, or we’ve just been incredibly lucky—or maybe it’s a combination of both—but we were getting some really good results, so much so that the conversation started fairly early on about starting our own professional brewery,” Belson says. “Once we made that decision, everything we did in terms of homebrewing, was geared toward the eye of eventually opening our own place.”
Besides their time in Belson’s kitchen, the two also began traveling to as many breweries as they could in order to pick the brains of brewmasters they admired like Nate Lanier at Tree House, Jack Hendler at Jack’s Abby, and Father Isaac Keeley at Spencer, the country’s only Trappist brewery. For several years in a row, they attended the annual Craft Brewers Conference to talk with equipment manufacturers and lock up suppliers. Belson even hijacked a friendly overseas trip to Germany, making last-minute adjustments to his family’s itinerary in order to visit Bavarian hop fields and the Hop Research Center in Hüll.
Finally, the two left their jobs, Segerson at Truro Vineyards and Belson at The Cape Codder, to lease a 5,500 square foot facility at 120 Great Western Road in South Dennis. Set to open on Memorial Day weekend, Devil’s Purse Brewing Company (named after the skate egg capsules that wash up on the beach) will focus on European influenced ales and lagers like their Surfman’s Check ESB and Skatemouth, a malt-forward pale ale finished with an infusion of U.K. Challenger hops.
“Rather than focusing on one flagship style we’re coming out of the gate with four core beers, beers where the malt really shines” Belson says. “It seems like every brewery you read about is putting ten pounds of hops in their beer, which is making it a struggle to just find the hops for our one IPA. That’s why a lot of our focus is on English style pale ales, a yeast heavy German Kolsch, and saisons, which aren’t typically hoppy. We’re cognizant that supply issues have certainly influenced our styles of beers.”
In addition to Devil’s Purse’s four year-round beers, Belson and Segerson will dedicate one of their seven-barrel fermenters to focus on one-off selections such as a winter stout brewed with a Belgian saison yeast strain and a small batch IPA featuring hops from New Zealand. And during the Cape’s offseason, when foot traffic and tourism inevitably slows, the brewers say they’ll redirect their efforts to beers that take longer to mature, like an autumn line of bottle-conditioned farmhouse ales.
“The Cape is our home, so we never considered brewing anywhere else,” Belson says. “It’s not only rich in history and scenic beauty, but there’s a tremendous community of people here. But being on Cape Cod, we recognize that we’re not in a major metropolitan area like Boston. So when we were forming our business model, we definitely had to look at the seasonality of the economy in order to build a sustainable year-round brewery.”
Devil’s Purse Brewing Company will start off as a draft-only brewery, producing kegs for area bars as well as on-site samples and growler fills. This fall, they’ll start bottling their line of small batch saisons in Champagne-style 750ml bottles.
Opening day selection of beers:
Surfman’s Check ESB
Hopped with Northdown and East Kent Goldings. Malt driven by Warminster floor malted Maris Otter with small amounts of Simpsons dark english crystal and a touch of Crisp Pale chocolate malt. Taste is rounded with a sweet and spicy up front flavor with a dry finish and a cleansing hop bite.
Skatemouth Pale Ale
A malt -forward Pale Ale. Sweet malt flavor derived from Warminster floor malted Maris Otter with a delicate edge brought from Dingemans Pilsen Malt. The beer is finished with an infusion of U.K. Challenger hops providing notes of spicy orange marmalade.
Pollock Rip IPA
Packed with Chinook, Apollo, Colombus, Ultra and Warrior hops. this solid IPA has a dry finish with a perceived sweetness and spicy flavors to balance bitterness with added aromas of pithy citrus fruits.
Our interpretation of a German-style kolsch. Mildly hopped with Vanguard. This unlfiltered rendition has pleasant aromas akin to lemon zest and cut grass, a dry finish and refreshing taste.
Skywave Provisional Saison
This provisional saison is brewed with tradition in mind. We use U.S.A. grown noble-esque hops, prodigious dry-hopping, French saison yeast plus two strains of Brettanomyces. This dry, funky, effervescent, highly-drinkable beer is conditioned in champagne bottles and gets more complex with age. Late fall release.
120 Great Western Rd., South Dennis; devilspurse.com.
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