Refreshment on tap

Craft beer brewery opens in Winchester
Bartender James Montgomery pours a beer during the grand opening of the Escutcheon Brewing Company, at 142 W. Commercial St. in Winchester. Hilary Legge/Daily
John Hovermale, head brewer of new Escutcheon Brewing Company in Winchester, shovels out the leftover grain from a recent batch of beer. This spent grain is given to a local farm where it is used as feed for the animals. Hilary Legge/Daily

WINCHESTER – The craft beer market in Winchester continues to expand with the opening of Escutcheon Brewing Company at 142 W. Commercial St.

Featuring a clean, utilitarian design, the 10,000-square-feet brewery houses a tasting room at the front of the building where people can order beers and view the beer-making process through large glass windows.

Owned by John Hovermale and Art Major, the aesthetic for the brewing company’s look, name and branding are meant to be reminiscent of the industrial maritime industry. Major is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and wanted to incorporate that into his new venture.

The brewery held a grand opening on Thursday, coinciding with Winchester Craft Beer Week. On Saturday, they will participate in the third annual Hop Blossom Craft Beer Festival in Old Town Winchester.

“It’s a great opportunity to get the word out with everyone focused on craft beer and people coming in from different areas,” said Major.

Major and Hovermale have known each other for eight years. They met when Hovermale was working on another start-up in town that ultimately fell through. Over time they started discussing the idea of opening a brewery.

“There’s a burgeoning craft beer following in town, so we kicked the idea around for several years, mostly over a glass of beer somewhere,” said Major. “About two years ago we really started talking seriously about it and looked at developing a business plan.”

Escutcheon currently has two beers on tap, an India pale ale called the Plimsoll, and the Growler kolsch. Their plan is to have four regular beers consisting of the IPA, the kolsch, an American pale ale and a Vienna lager. They will also be adding a different seasonal beer every quarter.

Major is no stranger to the business world. He founded GearClean Inc., an industrial cleaning service headquartered in Winchester in 2008 and is former vice president of the Winchester City Council.

With 15 years of experience in the brewing industry, it was Hovermale’s skills that interested Major in starting the business.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have made the investment at all,” Major said. “He’s a very experienced master brewer and really good guy.”

Hovermale now serves as head brewer for Escutcheon, leading the production of the beer, while Major manages the finances and business aspects of the company.

Hovermale said Major has all the business sense. “I have none. What I do have is the ability and the knowledge to make beer repeatedly and consistently,” said Hovermale. “So, it’s a pretty even division of labor.”

Along with the brewery’s own taproom, Escutcheon’s beers will soon be available in various local restaurants and bars such as Union Jack Restaurant and Pub, Village Market Bistro and the Bright Box Theater.

Open Wednesday through Sunday, hours vary each day and are subject to change. For taproom hours or more information, visit

Contact staff writer Hilary Legge at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or

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