Beer lovers, get ready for Mad Jack.
Starting in April, the long dormant Van Dyck brewery will start cranking out barrels of beer under the label of the Mad Jack Brewing Company.
“We think it’s something unique we can offer,” said Jeff McDonald, who manages the facility with several cousins. “Having fresh local beer is something that is a valuable commodity.”
The McDonalds plan to feature the beer on tap at all of their Schenectady restaurants, while selling kegs of it to other area businesses.
Once operational, the microbrewery will become the only one of its kind in Schenectady County. The Van Dyck brewed beer intermittently under its previous owner, Peter Olsen.
Eventually, Olsen fell into debt, the brewing ceased and the Van Dyck went into foreclosure. Olsen closed the Van Dyck in March 2007, claiming he needed to make repairs, but never reopened.
The McDonald family purchased the Van Dyck for $252,000 at auction in October 2009 and repaid $147,000 in back taxes. They also spent roughly $80,000 to buy the microbrewing equipment, with the intention of producing beer.
But a Prohibition-era state law prevented the family from doing so without lobbying the Legislature. The law prohibited any owner of three or more restaurants from operating a brewery. The McDonalds also own Pinhead Susan’s and the Stockade Inn, along with the Van Dyck.
“That process took almost a year and a half,” McDonald said.
They also had to contend with the decaying condition of the Van Dyck as well. Aside from leaks and other cosmetic damage, vandals removed some of the copper from the brewery.
McDonald said the family invested more than $700,000 in rebuilding the brewery and adjacent restaurant. They also hired Drew Schmidt, a brewmaster who worked at the former Big House in Albany and the Olde Saratoga Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs.
“We’re confident we’re going to offer a high quality beer and it’s going to be great asset to the community,” McDonald said.
Plans are to produce six varieties of beer plus two seasonal flavors. McDonald said the beers will be the only ones served on tap at the Van Dyck.
The name “Mad Jack” is a tribute to McDonald’s father. He said Jack McDonald remains committed to revitalizing the city and bringing a successful business to the Stockade.
“He cares about the future of the Stockade and the city,” he said of his father.