Lops Brewing prepares for July 27 opening day

Lops Brewing prepares for July 27 opening day

Assistant Brewer Alec Santos of Cranston, cleans out a fermenter to make room for a double IPA. (Breeze photos by Lauren Clem)

WOONSOCKET – With less than two weeks to go until opening day, Lops Brewing owner Sean Lopolito is brewing as fast as he can.

The new brewery at 122 North Main St. received its final state licensing at the end of June and is now slated to open next Saturday, July 27. Opening weekend hours will be Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., with food trucks and four beers available on tap.

With a crowd of thirsty patrons expected for opening weekend, something is always brewing in the property’s new basement brew space, which features four 3.5-barrel fermenters capable of holding about 100 gallons each. The community, said Lopolito, has been enthusiastic about the project, and he’s hoping his newly set up system will be able to keep pace with demand in the opening weeks.

“Response has been great,” he said. “A lot of people have reached out about when I’m going to open and what beers are on tap.”

For opening weekend, those beers will include a New England IPA and coffee porter along with a red ale and traditional India pale ale. After that, he plans to introduce a double IPA and a session ale, a personal favorite.

“And then we’ll roll into the fall offerings, which would be an Oktoberfest and a stout,” he added.

The goal, he said, has been to try to source as many ingredients locally as possible. The coffee porter is made with grounds from New Harvest Coffee Roasters in Pawtucket, and spent grains are picked up and recycled by a local farm. Local artist Beth Braganca Bell is designing Rhode Island-themed labels for all the beers, including one that features the historic Woonsocket Depot train station.

Lopolito has also brought on staff to help run the brewery, including Assistant Brewer Alec Santos, a New Jersey native who recently graduated from the Johnson and Wales University brewing program. Last Friday, Santos could be found cleaning out the fermenters to prepare them for a new batch. Each beer spends between 10 and 14 days in the fermenter, so nothing sits for long before it’s kegged and transported to the cooler to make room for a new brew. It’s a familiar process for Lopolito, who spent many years brewing at home before he turned the hobby into a business venture.

“It’s the same process, just a much larger scale,” he explained.

Upstairs, friends and family are helping to put the final touches on a 40-seat tasting room that features a bar, high-top tables and a front entrance opening at street level. Modern and sleek, the room bears little resemblance to the empty shell that existed before renovations, though a few touches of the original 1891 building remain. An exposed brick wall reminds patrons of the area’s industrial roots, while a bar top made from reclaimed wood bears witness to generations of fires within the building, burn marks and sawmill cuts still visible on its glossy surface.

“The idea behind the tasting room was to make it a comfortable environment for all ages to come in and have a drink, sit down with their party,” said Lopolito.

For now, table games and flat-screen TVs offer entertainment while patrons try out their beer, though he hopes to offer live music and special events once the staff settles in. With close to two years of planning and 10 months of renovations, Lopolito said he’s ready to open and looking forward to getting patrons in the door.

“I expected it to take a long time, and it took a long time,” he said.

Regular hours through the end of August will be on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m.

Kegs of New England IPA and coffee porter sit ready to be served in the cooler at Lops Brewing. Owner Sean Lopolito is hoping to fill the cooler with more offerings by opening day.