Backlash Is Building a Brewery in Roxbury

The contract brewers are crowdfunding their own production facility and taproom.
Backlash Ricochet photo by Aaron Mello / Helder Pimentel brewing Groundswell at Paper City Brewing in the early days of Backlash / Provided

Backlash Ricochet photo by Aaron Mello / Helder Pimentel brewing Groundswell at Paper City Brewing in the early days of Backlash / Provided

UPDATE, Nov. 23, 9:15 a.m.: Backlash Beer Co. fans have propelled the brewery crowdfunding campaign past its $30,000 goal. As of this morning, the fund is up over $35,000. IndieGogo allows successfully funded campaigns to remain open indefinitely, says Backlash cofounder Helder Pimentel, so the website will remain live as a storefront of sorts, where fans can purchase brewery T-shirts, glassware, and other swag, and even sign up for a Backlash Collective membership.

The Backlash team is still finalizing the long-term lease on the Roxbury facility, and working with an architect to design the brewery space. Pending zoning and permitting decisions, Backlash Brewery could open this summer, Pimentel says.

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Backlash Beer Co. is no stranger to the Boston bar scene, thanks to brews like Ricochet IPA, Groundswell Belgian saison, and Convergence developed through contract brewing partnerships. But next year, it will finally have a taproom to call its own.

Backlash is finalizing the lease agreement in Roxbury, and today, cofounders Helder Pimentel and Maggie Foley launched a crowdfunding campaign to help make Backlash Brewery & Taproom a reality.

The location, in a former piano factory, is just down the street from Bully Boy Distillers and its forthcoming still-to-glass cocktail bar. “It’s a really prime time, inner city location, which is really cool,” Pimentel says.

At just about 6,500 square feet, the facility will house a 15-barrel brewhouse. It remains to be seen whether Backlash will keep its contract relationships with Paper City Brewing in Holyoke, and Foolproof Brewing in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Backlash produces about 1,000 barrels of beer annually, and Pimentel says he believe the new facility can accomodate that output.

The brewhouse will take up about half the Roxbury space, with a tasting room and retail area occupying the remainder. The property has a 24-space parking lot, which also gives Backlash to host food trucks, and potentially offer outdoor seating.

Pimentel plans to have at least 12 draft lines at the bar. Expect to see Ricochet, Groundswell, and Convergence, as well as imperial stouts, hoppy session ales, and other styles beer fans haven’t seen from this company yet.

“Contracting is sort of limiting, so this gives us an opportunity to mess around with barrel-aging, try some sour beers, and wild fermenting as well,” Pimentel says.

When guests walk into Backlash through garage doors, they will see the retail counter—Backlash will work with Iron Heart Mobile Canning to package 16-ounce tallboys—and the team is currently hunting down arcade games and other amenities to add to the 800-square foot entryway. The circa-1800s, industrial building is equipped with exposed brick and beams, and it has an elevated mezzanine where Pimentel envisions most of the beer hall seating. From there, glass partitions will overlook the brewhouse. The IndieGogo campaign video has a sneak peek inside.

“We want to create a space that expresses the creativity and passion that is core to us,” says Zach Bray, creative director and co-owner, in the IndieGogo campaign video.

That’s where the $30,000 fundraiser comes in: Backlash has enough cash on hand to open the doors, but the donations will help the team add finishing touches, Pimentel says. And they’re sweetening the deal: In addition to branded glassware, T-shirts, hoodies, and other standard prizes, backers have a chance to join an exclusive new membership group.

Backlash Collective is the latest society of boozehounds, à la Night Shift’s Barrel Society, and Short Path Distillery’s Community-Supported Alcohol program. It includes swag, as well as access to limited-release and exclusive brews. The Collective membership, a $150 donation to the IndieGogo, also nets an invite to an exclusive grand opening party, as well as first crack at tickets to every event Backlash hosts during its first year in Roxbury.

Backlash has been real estate hunting for more than a year, Pimentel previously told Boston Business Journal. He expects to have the Roxbury lease signed next week, after which the company can take care of necessary city and state licensing factors, potentially including a zoning variance. Backlash Brewery & Taproom could open summer 2017.

Backlash Brewery & Taproom, coming to 152 Hampden St., Roxbury, backlashbeer.com.


Jacqueline Cain Associate Food Editor at Boston Magazine jcain@bostonmagazine.com