Breweries Partner Together in Rhode Island for New Opportunity

Four independently run companies. All beer. One roof.

The beer is coming off the canning line already for Narragansett Beer, which announced “It’s About Time” IPA as it’s first Rhode Island-made beer since the early 1980s.

Now in Pawtucket, the 100-barrel facility is located inside what is being called “The Guild” (the Isle Brewers Guild) which will include fellow tenants Newburyport Brewing, Devil’s Purse Brewing and Farmer Willie’s Craft Ginger Beer.

“We can leverage all of our volume together to allow them to build one of the biggest craft breweries in the Northeast,” said Narragansett owner Mark Hellendrung. “Working together opens up many opportunities for better efficiency and flexibility for all of us.”

Every Guild partner brewer is its own financial enterprise,” Hellendrung pointed out.

“What’s really energizing is to be able to work together in a shared space and interact with beer lovers as a group but also to remain independent,” he said.

Narragansett has been a partner in the Guild building project from the beginning, so it’s been exciting to see the project take off said Hellendrung while being able to bring in other New England partners.

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Remaining independent was a key. This isn’t a merger or a macro takeover. It’s the banding of like-minded companies that wanted to see Rhode Island have a craft beer outlet.

“Partnerships like this can be a great alternative to buyouts from macros or selling to minority investors,” Hellendrung said. “But just like those alternatives, there are also risks like aligning culture, vision, and expectations. I’m fortunate to have known [Guild co-founders Devin Kelly and Jeremy Duffy] for over a decade, so there’s a certain comfort level there. Similarly, there are great, long-term friendships in the craft community.”

It’s been an exciting time for Hellendrung and ‘Gansett, which was given a re-birth to the brand in 2005 with contract brewing the brand in Rochester, New York. But the one-time sponsor of the Boston Red Sox, the brand is an important one to the New England area and the state of Rhode Island especially.

“From the day we relaunched Narragansett, the goal was to return brewing back to Rhode Island,” Hellendrung said. “Knowing that Narragansett has such a strong history in Rhode Island and greater New England, and that the old Cranston brewery employed so many Rhode Island residents, it was incredibly important to do everything we could to achieve that goal.

“Along the way we honored ‘Gansett tradition as best we could without brewing in Rhode Island, but I knew that in order to be successful in the long run, the beer had to be brewed here. We believe in small business and the local economy, so we’re very proud to bring it back home.”

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