WORCESTER – Paul Wengender likes high alcohol beers. Low alcohol beers are OK, but for him, give him a high test beer and he’s happy.
That’s why Wengender, of Sturbridge, opened the Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company. The former contract brewery opened its doors last week at its new brewery and taproom at 55 Millbrook St., Worcester, becoming the fourth brewery in Worcester.
“I’ve been fascinated by the high ABV (alcohol by voume) constructs,” said Wengender, a scientist by trade. “The high ABV beers have that alcohol, that booziness, that can be a turn off. Our imperial styles, it’s big ABV, but it’s big in flavor, so you don’t get that alcohol burn.”
Greater Good bills itself as the only all-imperial brewery in the United States. All of their beers are at least 8 percent ABV or higher.
Greater Good first started brewing its beer at Brewmasters Brewing Services in Williamsburg in August of 2016. They started with the Greylock IPA (12 percent ABV), Good Night Moon Imperial Milk Porter (11.1 percent ABV), Imperial Sour Cherry Altbier (10 percent ABV) and Imperial Citra Saison (9 percent ABV).
The beers took off almost immediately.
“After those first four beers, I thought maybe it’s not just a hobby anymore,” Wengender said.
Greater Good released two more beers, V 5-hopped IPA (8 percent ABV) and Pulp (8 percent ABV), an incredibly popular New England-style “juicy” IPA.
“The company just went to a new level with that beer,” said Wengender. “We hadn’t brewed another beer in months, which is unheard of.”
That popularity helped Wengender make the decision to open the Greater Good Taproom. The brewery brews and cans its beers onsite (they still brew at Brewmasters, as well). They can have up to 14 beers on tap.
The taproom is 2,500 square feet, mostly made of stone, reclaimed wood and metal to keep the industrial feel of the area, Wengender said.
The taproom features more than 80 classic video games on five machines, as well as cornhole and a giant version of the game “Connect Four.” (Beer Nut note: I rock at Connect Four.)
Worcester, he said, has been receptive to craft beer and Wengender said he thought it was the perfect location for his brewery.
“We want to be part of this community,” he said. “I think Worcester is a great opportunity. It’s thriving. The scene is radiating. Worcester is thirsty.”
The brewery also has a kitchen and a chef, and they specialize in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Recognizing that not everyone wants high alcohol beers, Greater Good’s head brewer, Shaun Radzuik, will soon be introducing a new line of beer called Sole Purpose, which will be low alcohol beers.
“He likes session beers,” said Wengender. “This will allow him to have all the creativity he wants.”
Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. Along with glasses of beer, they sell cans to go and will add growlers in the future, Wengender said.
“When I opened this, I wanted to have a place where the community can come together, tell stories, play games and have fun,” he said.
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. Email him at email@example.com or call at 508-626-3823. Check out the Beer Nut blog at blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RealBeerNut and on Facebook at facebook.com/NormanMillerBeerNut.