A new libation has hit the island’s bar scene just in time for Festival and the hot days of summer.
The guys at St. John Brewers, Chirag “Cheech” Vyas and Kevin Chipman, were previously best known for their distinctive mango scented V.I. Pale Ale. With the launch of their new Island Summer Ale, however, that seems about to change.
“The summer ale is traditionally drank in warmer weather,” said Vyas. “It’s not too malty or hoppy on the finish and it doesn’t have a lot of bitterness. It’s just perfect for this island climate.”
“The response from people about our V.I. Pale Ale is that it has fuller flavor and people drink only one or two,” said Chipman. “The Island Summer Ale is the kind of beer you can drink a few more of just hanging out.”
Since partnering with Shipyard Brewing Company in Maine two years ago to produce and bottle their V.I. Pale Ale, the local brewers have been keeping busy. They opened the Tap Room on the second level in Mongoose Junction in November and used the three-keg system they installed to tweak the recipe for their summer ale, Vyas explained.
“The Island Summer Ale is something we’ve been working on for the past two years,” he said. “We launched the V.I. Pale Ale first because we wanted to put ourselves on the map as a brewing company and it’s a different taste.”
“We were tweaking the recipe,” Vyas continued. “Once we got it finished, we served it and people loved it. We think the summer ale is really going to take off here.”
“It was great to have the chance to change some things in the recipe and get it just right,” said Chipman.
If initial sales are any indication, the beer making buddies are right about their predictions for the Island Summer Ale.
“We’ve had absolutely fantastic feedback,” said Vyas. “A lot of the restaurants are selling out. We’re reordering because it’s moving so fast.”
“Word is getting out about the Summer Ale and the Tap Room,” said Chipman. “We’ve had more and more people coming by to check out the spot and try the beer.”
The brewers have also been whipping up small batches of different ales in their popular watering hole.
“We’ve been working on a couple of different styles,” Vyas said. “We have a nice medium bodied amber ale and we’re hoping to get back on schedule with our brewing too. We’ll have one or two different styles that we make on tap soon.”
Keep an eye out for seasonal brews like nutmeg or pumpkin spice coming out this fall and winter, Chipman added.
The Tap Room also serves up Shipyard beers and the brewers are dedicated to keeping different styles on hand, Vyas added.
“We’ll keep rotating the beers,” he said. “We’ll try out a bunch of different styles. We want people to get accustomed to different styles of ale.”
Gearing Up for Festival
As if launching a new beer and running their own bar wasn’t enough work for the St. John Brewers, they’re gearing up for St. John Fourth of July Festival as well.
“We’re doing the Carnival parade for our third year in a row,” said Vyas. “We’ve been working on our float. It’s a lot of work to put the float together, but it’s fun.”
“You can’t go wrong giving away free beer,” he added.
Although the brewers wouldn’t divulge what they have in store for the Festival parade, spectators can “expect something different this year,” said Chipman.
Ask for the St. John Brewers’ new Island Summer Ale at most bars, restaurants, and resorts throughout the Virgin Islands.
And anyone who goes stateside this summer won’t have to leave their favorite beer behind, the local ales are also available in
California, Rhode Island and New Jersey with Florida and Massachusetts possible future distribution sites as well.
In order to sample the draft version, however, stop by the Tap Room — open Monday through Saturday noon to 9 p.m. and 2 to 9 p.m. on Sunday — to try out the new light and refreshing ale.
Happy Hour happens every day from 4 to 6 p.m. when patrons can enjoy $1 off all pints and movie night is every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The Tap Room also serves a variety of wines by the glass and non-alcoholic beverages. A wide range of shirts, hats and other merchandise is also available.