‘Gansett President is ‘Pushing Fast’ on Building a Brewery

It’s been 30 years since Narragansett beer was actually brewed in Rhode Island, but company President Mark Hellendrung said it’s ‘highly likely’ that will change in 2012.

Hellendrung said building a Narragansett brewery in Rhode Island is his main priority in 2012. He has been touring the country consulting with brewers like Oskar Blues, Left Hand Brewing and Baxter Brewing for insight on development and design.

“Ideally, I’d like to have the grand opening in December, which would be the brewery’s 122nd birthday,” Hellendrung said. “We are pushing fast on it now. In all likelihood it will end up building in Providence, but we are also considering a waterfront property in Warren.”

Hellendrung is looking to invest over $1 million on equipment and building costs for the new facility. Until then, however, the company will continue to contract brew. The lager and light brands are currently brewed at the Genessee Brewing Company in Rochester, NY and at City Brewery in Latrobe, PA. Hellendrung said the craft portfolio will also continue being produced under contract with Cottrell Brewing Co., in Pawcatuck CT.

Narragansett PorterDespite the lager and light brands making up roughly 90 percent of Narragansett’s total production volume, Hellendrung said the company’s craft offerings, like the Porter and Bock catalyzed 35 percent of the volume growth that the company saw in 2012.

“Our craft offerings accounted for about 25 percent of our volume growth and about 35 percent of our dollar growth,” Hellendrung said. “A lot of our key accounts and key influencers are the craft accounts and we are seeing tremendous success with those brands.”

But the demand for “‘’gansett’s” craft offerings is also cause for concern, said Hellendrung. Cottrell Brewing is tight on space, which limits production time.

“It’s a challenge and another reason why we are pushing so fast on this brewery of our own,” he said. “We have held back on the crafts so far because we haven’t been entirely sure we could get the supply.”

Narragansett produced 49,000 barrels in 2011 and Hellendrung is projecting another year of 40 percent growth in 2012. He also hopes to break the 100,000-barrel mark in 2013, a goal he believes is realistic given the company’s current growth trends.

A lot of that growth is coming in its own backyard. The brand currently holds a three share of the Rhode Island market and is up 25 percent, Hellendrung said.

“We are sending about 37 percent of our volume to Rhode Island,” he said. “The brand is selling in our other markets, but it would be selling more if there was more availability.”

Hellendrung said the company will look to create growth in existing markets but did mention plans to enter New Jersey and upstate New York. The brewery also recently inked a distribution deal with Mims Distributing in North Carolina.

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