Banners hung high above the heads of a crowd of people on a Saturday afternoon as they sip their libations announce the craft breweries that now call Pawtucket their second home. Or in cases such as Narragansett and Farmer Willie’s, their only rightful home. These banners can be found at the Isle Brewers Guild (461 Main St, Pawtucket) on a beam that was once part of a gantry crane that helped produce naval hardware for the Second World War. Isle Brewer’s Guild opened their doors officially about a year ago, and a lot has changed as the IBG folks have continued to grow their business and rehabilitate their former factory.
I’ve had the unique opportunity to visit the brewery and get a behind-the-scenes perspective as the build continues. In March, the basic brewery had been built out,, and they were just starting test batches. One of the test batches was a new Narragansett project that would come to be called It’s About Time IPA. From my recollection, it tasted pretty close to what it is today. I also had the pleasure of trying a very early iteration of the Farmer Willie’s Ginger Beer, which still had some work left to be done since the ink had just dried on the contract. The main brewery floor, while functional, was still a construction site with various lengths of shiplap boards littered around and most mounted to the stairwell. These boards would become the backdrop of what most know as the tasting room, which just opened to the public a few months ago.
Now the tasting room has beers from each of the partners’ portfolios, and they’re brewed on site. A bar also has been built to belly up to while you enjoy their brewed offerings. Outside of the large bay door is a new patio that holds some tables, benches and most importantly, three sets of corn hole boards.
Inside, the brewery has already expanded with another six 300 bbl fermenters that are new additions since March. In true museum fashion, there’s a little gift shop to buy your friends and family some excellent beer gear before you head home. While there is no food on site, some nights they will have a little pop-up food cart with sausages, hamburgers and other beer-friendly fare.
Isle Brewers Guild (IBG) has been very active in the homebrewing community, providing a space for monthly RI Brewing Society (RIBS) meetings and hosting the annual Ocean State Homebrewing Competition (OSHC) for the third year in a row. Keep on the lookout for news from the OSHC as they work closer with the folks at IBG to deliver some really cool prizes and events.
While quite a few things have changed since March, more changes are on the way, most of which I cannot speak of yet. Suffice it to say, the future of IBG looks bright. So drop in and have a pint, maybe even join their Cornhole League while you’re at it, and you’ll see — and likely appreciate — the changes.