The Guild opens with a bang (and brews) on Main Street (video)

The Guild opens with a bang (and brews) on Main Street (video)

Isle Brewers Guild partner Jeremy Duffy, at the podium, addresses the crowd at the grand opening celebration for The Guild on Main Street in Pawtucket last Friday. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

PAWTUCKET – Who wouldn’t want to attend a grand opening where free beer is on the menu, joked state and local officials as they partied at The Guild on Main Street last Friday.

Laureen Grebien said her husband had March 10 circled on the calendar for weeks, frequently referencing it as one of the biggest days the city has seen in a long time.

Mayor Donald Grebien feels the same way many people do about what a new craft brewing hub will mean for Pawtucket, said his wife, particularly that it will further transform this city into one of the nation’s best craft beer destinations.

The Grebiens were joined by dozens of state and local officials and beer enthusiasts at a grand opening and ribbon cutting for The Guild. Representatives for five new partner breweries joined in to celebrate the official opening of what many expect will be a regional – and even national – attraction.

Last Friday’s launch party, complete with beer samples and free T-shirts, marked the beginning of business operations at the brewery. By the end of March, owners of the Isle Brewers Guild plan to open their first tasting room to the public, giving craft beer drinkers an opportunity to sample a variety of locally crafted beers.

The facility will eventually be a “one-stop food and beverage campus,” featuring indoor and outdoor event space, an outdoor beer garden, tasting rooms, restaurants, classroom space and corporate offices.

Grebien thanked those who have helped make Pawtucket a beer destination, from Guild co-founders Jeremy Duffy and Devin Kelly for agreeing to look at Pawtucket as a home, to the Pawtucket Water Supply Board for supplying the water needed for a heavy volume of beer.

“We welcome Isle Brewers Guild, their brewers, and visitors to Pawtucket – the craft beer capital, said Grebien. “Our brewers have seen the value of our city and the buzz happening here and chose to ‘join the evolution.’ “ The craft beer industry has great implications for tourism, employment and economic development, he said. With a commuter rail station around the corner on the horizon, “the possibilities are endless,” he said.

Kelly and Duffy said their brewery has the capacity to produce 100,000 beers each day, with room to expand. This will be the largest U.S.-made craft brewer in the country, said Duffy “and we’re particularly proud of that.” The brewery will deliver beer to partners’ standards, said Kelly, as the brewery is “designed for speed, efficiency and quality.”

The partners in the Isle Brewers Guild, including Duffy, Kelly, Michael Leshinsky, Jack Streich and Kevin Chase, expect to draw some 50,000 visitors or more each year.

The addition of Narragansett Beer, the 45th largest brewer in the United States, puts a “Rhode Island classic where it belongs,” said the owners.

Narragansett Beer’s Mark Hellendrung said he’s “proud to call Pawtucket our new home” and “can’t think of a better place” to locate. The opening of The Guild marks the fulfillment of the company’s long-running bid to renew brewing operations in its home state, he said.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said The Guild is “good for tourism” and she’s “so proud to be part of this.” She joked that unlike the oft-repeated line in the state about cranes in the sky, The Guild puts “grains in the sky.” Without Grebien, the project never would have happened, said Raimondo.

“Today is a visible sign that we’re getting things done,” she said.

Last Friday’s celebration happened exactly two years after a fire destroyed The Guild’s previous targeted location in Providence. Kelly drew laughs when he shared how Grebien called right after the fire to let him know that Pawtucket has “some really nice mill buildings” available. There was a pause. “Too soon?” Kelly remembers Grebien asking.

Kelly and Duffy said it was Grebien’s aggressiveness that helped lure them to Pawtucket. Grebien credited former Pawtucket Foundation Executive Director Aaron Hertzberg for pushing the Kellaway Building on Main Street as a possible destination for the brewery.

Representatives for Sons of Liberty Spirits in South Kingstown made a surprise appearance at the grand opening, making their inclusion in the brewing consortium all but official. The addition of Sons of Liberty brings Pawtucket’s total number of breweries to eight. A ninth brewery is expected to be announced within the next month.

Tenants at The Guild include Narragansett Beer, Newburyport Brewing Company, Devil’s Purse Brewing Company, Sons of Liberty, and Farmer Willie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer. The three original Pawtucket breweries are Foolproof Brewing, Bucket Brewery and Crooked Current Brewery.

Officials from the Pawtucket Red Sox were also there last Friday, another sign that the addition of The Guild helped change the team’s perception of the city as a long-term home.

Tony Pires, director of administration for Grebien, said officials are hoping for a “great synergy” in the downtown area between The Guild, a future train station, and a possible new PawSox stadium at the Apex property on the riverfront.

The Isle Brewers Guild purchased its property at 461 Main St. in November of 2015. Brewing equipment began arriving last summer.

The Isle Brewers Guild gives partner brewers the space and equipment they need to overcome manufacturing, packaging and distribution restraints, while maintaining control of their core business practices.

“Put more simply: Partners will utilize IBG’s 100-barrel brewhouse and use the facility’s brand-new, state-of-the-art equipment to brew, package and distribute the beers their customers know and love,” states a release.

Learn more about the Isle Brewers Guild at www.islebrewers.com .

Standing in front of the giant brewing vats, Isle Brewers Guild co-partner Devin Kelly acknowledges the help of those that made the brewery possible, including Gov. Gina Raimondo and Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien. In the background, on display, are the brewing vats at the Isle Brewers Guild’s official launch of operations at the beer cooperative’s 100-barrel brew house in Pawtucket last Friday. (Breeze photos by Charles Lawrence)
Jamie Buscher, a marketing assistant at Narragansett Beer, hands out a sample of the company’s brew. Beside her is B.J. Mansuetti, marketing manager at Narragansett Beer.
Max Easton, co-founder of Farmer Willie’s Craft Ginger Beer and a member of the Guild, offers a sample of his brew which is made from cold pressed ginger, sugar, lemon juice, molasses and nutmeg.
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien thanks all those that made bringing the Isle Brewers Guild to Pawtucket possible.
Jeremy Duffy, left, and Devin Kelly, partners in the Isle Brewers Guild, celebrate the official launch of operations at the beer cooperative’s 100-barrel brew house in Pawtucket last Friday. Isle Brewers Guild gives partner brewers the space and equipment they need to brew, package and distribute the beers their customers love.