Isle Brewers Guild to Open in Pawtucket Early Next Year

The contract brewery and taproom will house Narragansett, Newburyport Brewing Company, and more.
Newburyport Brewing Company.

Newburyport Brewing Company. / Photo provided

Earlier this year, Providence-born Narragansett Beer relocated its operations to a contract brewery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The 126-year-old brand has made its beer in Rochester, New York, for more than 30 years, and this move was the first step toward bringing it brews back home.

Now, Newburyport Brewing Company has announced it will expand into the same facility. The two companies hope to start brewing commercially out of Pawtucket in January 2017, with a taproom opening soon afterward.

The 131,000-square-foot campus in question is Isle Brewers Guild, a $12 million craft cooperative that purchased it last December, with help from Narragansett and other investors. Guild cofounders Devin Kelly and Jeremy Duffy launched the contract brewing facility for companies like Newburyport in need of extra space and resources, they said.

The North Shore brewery, which was cofounded in 2012 by Chris Webb and Bill Fisher, is known for an eponymous Pale Ale, its Green Head IPA, and a Plum Island Belgian White Ale. Newburyport plans to use the Pawtucket space to scale up production and distribution of these core beers.

“[We’re] running at 100 percent capacity right now,” Fisher told Brewbound. “There is no more space left. We needed a way to keep growing and a way to meet demand in our current markets. The more we talked with IBG, the more it seemed evident that we wanted to be involved in this.”

Once the brewing partners get settled, IBG will feature a shared taproom offering samples, full pours (now that state beer laws have changed), and light bar snacks.

“Rule is, whatever is being produced at the brewery is on tap,” Duffy says. “Visitors will at some point see special, brewery-only beers, and hopefully a lot of collaborations.”

The beer hall will also house a large retail area with to-go beer and merchandise from the partner breweries, and Duffy says the guild plans to host tours through the brewhouse. Classes on brewing and fermentation with local experts are in the works, too. The guild is in talks with a few independent restaurants about potentially opening satellite locations there, too.

For brewers, IBG will be outfitted with a canning line, cold storage, and barrel-aging space. Newburyport and Narragansett will monopolize most of the guild’s initial 60,000-barrel capacity, but the guild hopes to ramp up production capacity to 175,000 barrels soon after launching, according to its website. With the added space, Duffy says, the guild expects to contract five to seven breweries at a time.

“There will be Narragansett days here, there will be Newburyport days here, and there will be other breweries’ days here,” says Narragansett president Mark Hellendrung. “And for the consumer, it’s just beer day every day.”

Construction is expected to wrap up in December, but it hasn’t stopped Hellendrung from setting up his brewery’s corporate offices already. Since production of Narragansett’s flagship lager will stay in New York, at least to start, Hellendrung plans to use the guild as a hub for small-batch beers. Down the pipeline, expect a new IPA series, and the return of the Bohemian pilsner and cream ale, he says. ‘Gansett expects to brew around 300 barrels a day in Rhode Island.

“It’s been great watching it all come together, and we’re looking forward to [the first quarter of] next year when we can get some beer coming out of here,” Hellendrung says.

Isle Brewers Guild, opening early 2017 at 461 Main St., Pawtucket, islebrewers.com.


Alex Wilking Alex Wilking, Contributor at Boston Magazine awilking@bostonmagazine.com