In 1975, the last brewery in western Massachusetts closed its doors when Hampden Brewing Company ceased operations in the Willimansett section of Chicopee, just across the Connecticut River from Holyoke. A few years later, in the late 1970s, two friends began discussing what it would take to get a small brewery up and running. Rick Quackenbush and George Peppard were home brewers, buying their supplies from Frank Romanowski, founder of our store on King St. in Northampton. Frank acted as an advisor, as the wealth of information for starting a brewery did not exist back then. Their intense interest in beer and brewing grew, and they came up with a business plan, which estimated that it would take $200,000 to start. They decided to operate in Easthampton, and would be called Nashawannuck Brewing Co., Inc. The company would be run by George, with Rick as the brewer. George incorporated with the state on December 2, 1980. Rick set up an apprenticeship with an established British brewery and travelled there to learn the commercial side of the industry, living and working there.
There was just one little problem—banks 36 years ago had no idea that a small brewery could be successful, as all the smaller ones like Hampden were closing their doors or consolidating with other small or regional ones. After trying various sources and even friends and family, the money could not be raised. Regrettably, the project was abandoned and the corporation was dissolved 3 years later. This left the area without a brewery until Janet Egelston and her brother Peter began to formulate a plan for the Northampton Brewery/Brewpub, which opened in 1987 and is currently the oldest in New England, after Commonwealth Brewing in Boston shut its doors. Ironically, Rick would later become the head brewer at Northampton and then at Paper City Brewery in Holyoke. If all had gone as planned, Nashawannuck would possibly be the granddaddy of the local brewing scene, and way ahead of its time!