Owners of Isle Brewers Guild 
plan ‘world class’ destination

Owners of Isle Brewers Guild 
plan ‘world class’ destination

Devin Kelly, left, and Jeremy Duffy, owners of the Isle Brewers Guild, show off the space that will soon be converted into their new brewhouse in the Kellaway Center, 461 Main St. The owners closed on the $1.25 million sale of the property last week.
Close on $1.25 million sale of Kellaway Center

PAWTUCKET – At first glance, the Kellaway Center at 461 Main St. was a long shot, a sprawling campus that just didn’t look right.

But it didn’t take long for the owners of the Isle Brewers Guild to picture the old Haskell Manufacturing property as a landmark center for beer, a place where they could be innovative in bringing together established breweries and other businesses for a tourist destination.

Partners Jeremy Duffy and Devin Kelly, owners of the Isle Brewers Guild, officially closed on their $1.25 million purchase of the 130,000-square-foot Kellaway Center last week.

Duffy and Kelly told The Breeze the Isle Brewers Guild will be “incredibly iconic for Pawtucket.” This was already the craft beer capital of Rhode Island, they said, and now the city will put a stranglehold on that designation.

The two said they’ve long been excited to talk about a “world class” restoration project that’s expected to cost $10 million or more, but wanted to wait until everything was finalized.

The owners said they’ve been impressed with city leaders since they began looking at Pawtucket shortly after their former target facility in Providence was destroyed by fire in March. Mayor Donald Grebien and his team have been persistent about helping, they said.

The owners said they like the Pawtucket facility much more than their earlier Providence one. They said they’ll occupy a little more than 100,000 square feet on the left side of the property, leaving 28,000 square feet of office space on the right side of the building for various tenants. The goal is to create “a beverage and food campus of like-minded” businesses, said Duffy.

This building offers “more complexities” than the Providence one, said Duffy, but also a “remarkable opportunity” to do something special.

“We can be completely creative, which is awesome,” he said.

Rhode Islanders can expect to hear established names in the craft beer business when they announce who their opening partners are, said Kelly and Duffy. These will be mid-sized breweries, not smaller “nano-breweries” or startups, and the plan is to develop long-term relationships with each of them. Residents can expect three to five breweries to start out, they said. Two breweries have already committed to the project and two more are very close, they said.

A top selling point for the Kellaway Center was a large room with skylights, which will be converted into the 100-barrel brewhouse for the Isle Brewers Guild. Kelly said they needed high ceilings for the fermentation tanks, and they loved this space right away. There will be nine tanks total to start, with lots of room to grow in the future. The room was targeted five years ago as a possible concert venue. The vaulted facility is full of unique character, said the new owners, and they plan to repurpose much of the old wood.

An unusual layout design will put operations like packaging and cold storage in a separate area.

The Isle Brewers Guild will look great when complete, said the Kelly and Duffy, but it will maintain an urban look and feel. Craft beer drinkers don’t go for fancy, they said.

A large courtyard will help make this a destination, said the owners, as they’re planning events and festivals that highlight Pawtucket and Rhode Island.

Construction of the new brewery will move quickly, with the brewhouse set to be transformed starting next month. Brewing in some capacity is projected to begin by the spring of next year and operations in full gear by the fall. The steel for the new brew house is being cut right now, said the owners.

The brewhouse doesn’t look like much from the outside right now, but when wood is removed and the majority of the 88 windows restored, those inside will be able to look in on state-of-the-art equipment and streamlined operations.

The Isle Brewers Guild will also boast a 4,000-square-foot tasting room, event and classroom space, and offices.

According to Duffy and Kelly, Rhode Island hasn’t seen this kind of capacity to brew since Narragansett Beer was last here.

“This is bringing large-scale brewing and manufacturing back to Rhode Island,” said Duffy.

The owners still aren’t confirming a deal to bring Narragansett Beer back as a possible partner. Are they in the mix?

“Anyone that produces really good beer is in the mix,” said Duffy, smiling.

Three local breweries already in Pawtucket, Bucket, Foolproof and Crooked Current, have proven that breweries can be tourist attractions, said the owners, and they hope to build on that. Larger breweries like Harpoon Brewery have shown that breweries can revitalize urban neighborhoods as a draw for craft beer lovers. The two said they love what’s already happening in the Main Street neighborhood.

None of the three existing Pawtucket breweries are in talks with the Isle Brewers Guild to move here, said the owners.

The new owners said they also love Pawtucket’s clean water, an important point since they’ll need about five million gallons of it in year one alone. Officials are working with them to make sure the building can handle that kind of volume.

What a craft beer consortium like this one does is give brewers that have outgrown their current facilities and/or need a new home a chance to keep expanding. Isle provides “the toys” for those breweries, and the expertise to “match their liquids perfectly.”

“We can do that at scale,” said Duffy. “That’s a huge benefit for these guys.”

The keys to a brewer’s success are having a great product, a good brewmaster, and the ability for marketing, and the Isle can help on all fronts, said the owners.

The Isle Brewers Guild will further boost a growing craft beer industry that pushed the total U.S. brewery count to 3,464 in 2014, up by 1,000 from two years before. Those are levels not seen since the late 1800s, said the owners.

The William Haskell Manufacturing Company was the oldest continually operating bolt and cold-punched nut plant in the U.S., developed from a small shop started by Stephen Jenks at Pawtucket Falls around 1820. In 1835, Tinkham, Haskell and Company bought the business and sold it to William Haskell, who moved it to 461 Main St. in 1860.

In the mid-1980s, Haskell Manufacturing Company was purchased by Kellaway Realty Corporation and operated by Kellaway Warehouse Corporation and Roadlink USA as a public warehouse for more than 20 years. Kelly and Duffy say they plan to maintain certain features as a tribute to the property’s past.

The owners say they’re hiring a property manager to help plan how everything will work. They said former owner Ken Kellaway did a great job completing upgrades over the years, giving them a great head start in developing the property.

Grebien said Monday he’s excited that the owners chose to “Join the Evolution” in Pawtucket.

“I want to welcome and thank Jeremy, Devin and their team,” he said. “Pawtucket is the home of the Industrial Revolution and now the craft brew capital of the region.”

When completed, this mill renovation will be a great tourist destination located just blocks away from a proposed commuter rail stop and has the potential to generate a great deal of activity in the downtown, said Grebien.

“This type of destination is highly appealing to all including the Millennials, a key target demographic,” he said. “The project will bring upwards of 40 new jobs at the location and this type of destination has the potential for spillover benefits and multipliers in the surrounding area.”

A rendering of what the new Isle Brewers Guild brewhouse could look like when completed.
The Kellaway Center at 461 Main St.
An old photo of the former WM. H. Haskell Co., which later became the Kellaway Center. Owners of the Isle Brewers Guild have purchased the property and plan to turn it into a center for established craft brewers.
A view of the new brewhouse from the second level.