A four-alarm fire that tore through and reduced a massive Rhode Island property to a mess of charred support columns and twisted steel had the unintended result of revealing Narragansett Beer’s plans for a new brewery.
The 93,000 sq. ft. property in Providence that was reportedly gutted by the blaze last Tuesday, it turns out, was to be the shared home of Isle Brewers Guild, an upstart contract brewing company, and Narragansett, which has been on the hunt for its own facility for the past decade.
Isle Brewers Guild, per its website, was planning to launch as a full service contract brewery similar to that of Florida’s Brew Hub, with an initial capacity of 60,000 barrels and the ability to double in size. Narragansett, which holds equity in the company as a “collaborative owner,” according to CEO Mark Hellendrung, was slated to be one of those contract partners.
“We were literally set to close on that building the next week and I woke up Tuesday and bam,” Hellendrung told Brewbound. “That was a major bummer… I loved that building.”
Hellendrung said the plan was to begin producing a portion of Narragansett’s craft-style offerings at the new facility.
“My mandate, my desire really to kind of finish or continue the comeback of Narragansett, I guess is to brew the beer here in Rhode Island,” added Hellendrung. “Isle Brewery approached us a little while ago with their concept, they put together this project, and it was a great opportunity to really accomplish what we wanted with brewery operations here.”
Currently, Narragansett brands are brewed under contract at a number of facilities in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. The hope, Hellendrung said, was to grow into the space and scale production of ‘Gansett offerings in Rhode Island.
Isle Brewers was founded by Devin Kelley and Jeremy Duffy, the latter of whom has previously led market studies and other PR initiatives at Narragansett, according to its website. Neither could be reached for comment as of press time.
The future of the Isle Brewing project is uncertain, but Hellendrung hinted at possible landing spots, assuming the Kinsley Street location cannot be salvaged.
Hellendrung specifically mentioned reports that the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox, the minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, may look to move the team to Providence, adding the opportunity to put a brewery near a ballpark would be enticing.
Either way, he said, the company is undeterred in its mission to bring production back to Rhode Island.
“We’re committed to doing it. It’s just kind of a bump in the road we’ve got to figure out,” he said. “Everything is in place from spec-ing out equipment, from space requirements to financing and all that other stuff. We need to find a new place to put it.”