The South Coast Is Getting Three New Breweries in 2017

Moby Dick Brewing Co. and a Portuguese-influenced brewpub are in the works in New Bedford, and Troy City Brewing is crowdfunding a Fall River debut.

Moby Dick Brewing Co.

Moby Dick Brewing Co. is under construction in downtown New Bedford. / Photo via Facebook

Local beer is flowing rapidly in the Boston area, in Central and Western Mass., on the North Shore, Cape Cod, and finally even on the South Shore. Even more new brews are on the way this summer, with Bone Up, Exhibit ‘A,’ and Lamplighter Brewing all ramping up production. Now, a relatively beer-dry Massachusetts region is poised for its own brewing renaissance: Three breweries are currently in the works in two South Coast cities.

New Bedford has long struggled to find its groove—basically since whaling stopped being a thing—but in recent years, community groups and residents have gained momentum and resources for a highly anticipated revitalization of its historic downtown. Two different groups of locals, including folks behind New Bedford institution, Antonio’s Restaurant, and newer mainstays Cork and Rose Alley, believe bustling brewpubs should be part of New Bedford’s future.

Fall River has had more trouble attracting vibrant downtown businesses since textile industries left the city, but that isn’t stopping one native son who is turning his longtime hobby into a hometown nanobrewery.

Here are the details:

Moby Dick Brewing Co.

Of course a list of New Bedford-area endeavors includes a nautically named venture. Moby Dick Brewing Co. is headed for the corner of Union and South Water Streets. The ground floor retail space was previously home to short-term political operations, and South Coast Improvement Co. is currently gutting it with plans to refurbish it as a brewpub.

“We all wanted to do something that would be interesting and good for the City of New Bedford. We hope to be involved in lots of community initiatives, provide some jobs and help attract visitors to the city,” Moby Dick Brewing Co. president David Slutz told SouthCoast Today earlier this summer.

The brewpub will seat 100 guests in a family-friendly restaurant. It will have large windows—it’s directly across the street from the Whaling Museum—and outdoor seating, a pub menu, retail, and a 10-barrel brewery operation visible behind the bar. The team behind Moby Dick is eyeing a March 2017 debut.

“We’re making a bet that it’s going to work out for New Bedford. We want to be part of a restaurant district,” said Bob Unger, another investor. He has a background in larger-scale brewing, he told a local radio station. He says Moby Dick will produce 750 barrels its first year, with five to seven different brews all named after themes from the namesake novel.

52 Union St., New Bedford, Facebook.

An unnamed brewpub on Purchase Street

Purchase Street already has one of the South Coast’s premier beer destinations in the Pour Farm Tavern, and sometime next year, a spot with house brews and live music will join the scene. A yet-unnamed venture is in the works, courtesy of three New Bedford natives. The partners are engineer Christian Farland, Mark Martinho, whose family owns the legendary Antonio’s Restaurant in the city’s South End, and his brother-in-law, Al Peters, a part-owner of downtown restaurants Cork Wine & Tapas and Rose Alley Ale House.

They have a few meetings scheduled this week where they expect to firm up details—including a name and a web presence—but they have signed a lease for an expansive storefront where they plan to open a restaurant and multipurpose events space, Martinho says.

“We definitely want to be a local hotspot, an anchor downtown,” he says. “Reinvesting in our hometown is really where the whole concept came about. Getting in on the scene downtown, providing a showcase for local artists, highlighting some of our food. There will definitely be a Portuguese twist on the menu,” he says.

Antonio’s is one of New Bedford’s most well-known restaurants, serving authentic, Old World comfort food with regional significance in the largely Portuguese city. It’s earned accolades over the years from Bon Appetit, Mark Bittman writing for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and more. Cork and neighboring Rose Alley both opened in unique, stone buildings on the waterfront in the mid-2000s.

791 Purchase St., New Bedford. 

Troy City Brewing Co.

It’s hometown pride that’s leading Keith Carvalho to open his own nanbrewery, too. A longtime homebrewer, he’s shared Troy City beer at festivals for the past couple years, and he recently found a space where he plans to ramp up production. He hopes to begin self-distributing kegs to Fall River restaurants this time next year.

“We really want to keep it small in the beginning and exclusively to the city. I’m very proud of where I live. I’ve been here all my life. The city’s ready for it,” he says.

Troy City is a one-time name for the place that borders Rhode Island, used for a few decades during the textile manufacturing heyday of the 1800s. While Carvalho was growing up, his father worked at local mills, but those jobs have all but disappearing in the past 40 years, he says.

“You grow up walking down certain streets and seeing things going on, and then everything just dying out. But what I’ve noticed in the past three or four years, is guys in their 30s and 40s, looking at the city differently. How can we make things better?” He names the entrepreneurs behind new hotspots like the Cove and A-1 Pub. “It’s just basically a bunch of local guys trying to get together and have more places to bring people into Fall River.”

His plan is to start small, delivering unique kegs to hand-picked places. “I don’t want to have a brewery with average beer. Being small, we won’t have to stick to one style. We could have 10 different styles when we start, and you’ll be able to go to A-1 pub to try our porter that week. The Cove might have our Double IPA. Now it’s a destination, the only place to try that beer.”

Earlier this summer, Carvalho signed a lease on a tiny, 350-square foot production space in the city’s South End. He’d love to open a taproom someday, but that is not in the current business plan. He’s launched a modest crowdfunding campaign to help outfit the new space, and he’s had some Troy City Brewing gear made already.

This weekend, A-1 is hosting a Kickstarter kickoff, where Carvalho will be selling the merch, as well as raffling off other local beers (not his own—yet). On Saturday, Troy City is in the lineup at the annual Night at the Brewseum, pouring alongside commercial brewers like Jack’s Abby and Wormtown.

“My biggest goal is not profit or even making a living [by brewing] right off the bat,” Carvalho says. “For me, it’s about bringing fresh beer to city of Fall River.”

South End, Fall River, Facebook.

Summer 2016 might be winding down, but that’s just an excuse to look forward to waterfront destinations to visit next year. Now, if only you could take the train.