The MK Experiment


The MK Experiment

A Q&A with Rapscallion Head Brewer Jonas Noble about the evolving Mk IPA series.

What inspired the series?   JonasSo my first thought in developing a new IPA was to find a simple way to name/number them while in the development stage. Since we have decided here to keep our beer names short and to the point I went with a term used by manufacturers to number new models. “Mark” is defined as a particular model or type of a vehicle, machine, or device. In other words when something is redesigned, improved or changed, it can be the new mark or mark 2 and so on. The term was actually used in the recent Marvel “Iron Man” movies as well distinguishing the different, evolving suits. Ever since we started at the Sturbridge brewery location there never has been a flagship IPA. We have experimented with lots of types of IPAs but never an everyday IPA. When a new beer is developed I think it should be developed with the customers and we have such a diverse group that comes in all the time. They are the best test kitchen I could ask for.

Tell us about each beer and how the recipes for each informed the others.
The base beer on Mk1 – Mk4 was the same with some minor changes. The most significant variable was the hops. I tried different combinations and quantities, factoring in customer feedback. Mk5 has taken a different route with a different base beer utilizing the hop combination from Mk4. To be a great recipe I think it must evolve and change until its just right. BaMKLabelby steps, as they say.

What has been the feedback on each of the beers so far? Anything surprising, or has it aligned with your thoughts?

I think it has been very positive. They all sold out faster than we could imagine. I think ultimately it’s about what the customers want so I’m doing my best to really listen and apply the feedback.

How many will there be in total?
As many as it takes to choose one and continue the series to experiment.

So, will there eventually be one that will be added to our mainstays and stick around? And would you start a new series of “Marks” then?MK5
My idea is to eventually have our house IPA and continue the series as an experimental venue.

These are your first new beers as head brewer other than Winterfest. What ideas are bouncing around in your head after experimenting with these new recipes?
Well there are so many interesting ingredients out there to try and this series is an avenue to try them. Maybe a new hop, yeasts, different base beers. It will turn into an experimental IPA series that should be fun for me and more fun for the customers to try. As much as I like flavorful hoppy beers I’m fascinated lately by beers like Pilsners and Lagers.

Are there any plans to introduce a new pilsner or lager at any point?
 I hope to have a seasonal Lager program in place within the next year. Having Harvard Lager on all the time but paired with a Pilsner, Oktoberfest, Dark Lager, India Pale Lager and so on based on the season.

Beer is as much of an art as it is a science. There are definitely lots of neat things to come!

Meet Shaun & Erin of Green Light Disc Golf!

With the first tournament on the horizon at the newly redesigned Rapscallion Disc Golf course, we asked our partners at Green Light Disc Golf – Shaun LaForce and Erin Tivnan – to tell us more about what brought them to this point, both as players and tournament organizers with a passion for this growing sport.

ShaunErinHow long have you played disc golf and how did you learn about the game?

Erin: I have been playing since 1997, making this my 18th year knowing about the sport. I learned about it from some friends that did some volunteer work when the course was being built at Buffumville Dam in Charlton, MA.  I didn’t play often the first 10 or so years I knew about the game (maybe a few times each year) but I started learning how amazing the local disc golf community was 8 years ago when I started playing leagues and meeting new people that shared my passion for this game. I have made some of the greatest friends in the disc golf community that have become like family. I also met Shaun playing disc golf; we met at a Sunday morning league at Buffumville and the rest is history!

Shaun: I first learned about disc golf while going to school at Cape Cod Community College in 2000. There was a 9-hole course on campus, and a classmate brought me out for my first time, and I can honestly say I didn’t like it much. It was more difficult than it seemed. I couldn’t get the disc to fly straight, and I was constantly looking for my disc in the bushes. I didn’t play again until 1 year later, when I went out with a good friend Zach Adams, and his cousin Jake Gould at the Buffumville course. Jake is a talented player and was adamant about getting my friends and I to fall in love with the game, and that he did. After getting the proper discs in our hands, along with some direction on technique, we were hooked!

GreenLight_finalHow and when did Green Light Disc Golf start?

Erin: We are both long-time tournament players, and always envisioned ourselves being a part of the disc golf scene throughout our lives. As we got older and obligations grew, traveling and playing events week in and week out, became less and less. At this point we felt we needed to seek a different way to continue being a part of it. With disc golf creating so many different friendships and avenues for us along the way (locally and across the country), we felt it was appropriate to give back what disc golf has given us. We had talked about making our dream a reality for a few years but never acted upon it until one day Shaun said he had a name for our dream- Green Light, which to us means “GO FOR IT”. We both immediately loved the name and began thinking of ways we could make it a reality. We decided we would give it a try and ran some tournaments in October of 2014. Since then we have run several dozen events throughout the area and have had tremendous support from the community.

How did you go about designing the new Rapscallion course layout?

Erin & Shaun: We first met with a group of people at Rapscallion Brewery in the fall of 2015 to discuss the possibilities of a potential redesign of the existing 9 hole course. For us, having the opportunity to design a course in this type of environment was a perfect fit. After months of planning, the train started rolling and we were underway. The course was redesigned with the idea of creating a disc golf atmosphere that was FUN for all, whether you are a new player, or a seasoned pro. We had feedback from A LOT of different disc golfers as we were figuring out the design so we feel that the holes reflect many different types of shots and styles of a player’s game (righty, lefty, backhand, forehand, tight, open, short, long, technical, etc.).

The fact that the property had an older course’s footprint made it tricky in deciding how to change it enough to become a true redesign. We also had half the land to work with to start, and wanted to fit 18 legitimate holes. We decided to try walking it backwards to see the land from a different perspective so we wouldn’t just see the “old course”.  The first few initial walk-throughs went well but we kept coming up short on 18 holes. We had to keep changing things as we explored new areas, and at the same time, trying to improve upon flow, as well as creating a variety of shots.

What excites you about this course and its history that made Green Light decide to partner with Rapscallion?

Erin & Shaun: First and foremost, the property, the people, and the environment are what excite us the most about this place. With different types of events throughout each week geared toward young kids and families to young adults/older adults, from familiar faces to new faces, it’s an awesome establishment enjoyed by so many people. Rapscallion is even pet-friendly. Knowing that such a variety of people visit Rapscallion, we felt it was an awesome chance to bring disc golf to lots of new people. It has proved itself so far as we have had so many new players out on the course since we opened. Combined with the simple fact that disc golf once lived here on the property, and knowing how much it had been missed, we were thrilled to have a chance to be a part of the new course.

We feel very fortunate to be involved with this project, as working with the staff and volunteers at Rapscallion has been nothing short of amazing! We have a phenomenal relationship with the staff and we have some mighty talented and hardworking individuals that have helped the course come together in such a short time. We had over 1200 volunteer man hours put into the course in a three month span which goes to show the type of team we are working with at Rapscallion Disc Golf!

What is the state of disc golf in the area and more so in Massachusetts?

Erin & Shaun: The sport has grown in popularity so much since we started playing in the late 90s/early 2000’s. Central Massachusetts has gained a ton of new courses since then and they continue to expand and pop up each year. This is also true for the whole region- there are currently 286 documented courses located in New England, 54 of them in Massachusetts! We are fortunate to have a great local organization with approximately 2000 members; the New England Flying Disc Association (NEFA) that has helped spread the awareness of disc golf, as well as fund many new courses throughout New England. On a larger scale, the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) currently has over 87,000 members which has more than doubled since we joined in the mid to late 2000s.  It is amazing that we have so many disc golf players and such a variety of courses now to choose from, and we are happy to have been a part of designing one of them and helping to #growthesport.

IMG_1559Where do you see Rapscallion Disc Golf in the future?

Erin & Shaun: We still have plenty of items to check off of our “to do” list to get the course to the point we envisioned it when we started the project but overall we are satisfied with our progress so far.

Short term we plan to continue to eradicate the poison ivy that has made an unwelcome presence on parts of the land, however we are making steady progress. We have plenty of clean-up and beautifying to accomplish in the future as well but we have a driven, dedicated, and passionate team who shares the same goals and vision.

We are looking towards getting a pro shop built on Hole 1 as soon as possible and also some functional hang-out areas for players and spectators to congregate before, during and after a round. We are also excited to announce that we will have 20 adjoining acres to explore in a few years, lending it to endless possibilities of what we could do to make this place even more special.


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