For awhile, Marlborough didn’t appear to be a destination for beer entrepreneurs. But that has changed, as no fewer than four are expected to be open for business by early next year.
METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – The brewing industry’s rapid growth in MetroWest over the past few years has reflected the overall growth of the industry.
But for awhile, one of the larger MetroWest communities – Marlborough – went without a brewery as they continued to open in smaller surrounding communities such as Hudson and Westborough.
But now that’s changing. By the end of this year, it’s expected there will be three breweries operating taprooms in the city, with a fourth planning to open in the spring of 2019. Marlborough is about to become a destination for craft beer fans throughout the state.
That is intentional, said Meredith Harris, executive director of the Marlborough Economic Development Corp. Last year, the corporation took out advertisements in beer magazines, offering incentives in the form of small business loans and help with permitting, to try to attract a brewery or two to downtown.
“We wanted to show them that we were open for business,” said Harris. “We aren’t going to put any roadblocks out there and we’re going to welcome them with open arms. I think that meant a lot.”
The goal, Harris said, is to help change the face of downtown Marlborough, similar to the way Medusa Brewing Company helped make downtown Hudson a place people want to go.
Two breweries are scheduled to open in downtown Marlborough. Flying Dreams Brewing Company, of Worcester, hopes to open a taproom at 277 Main St. in October or November, while Lost Shoe Brewing & Roasting Company hopes to be open by the end of the year at 19 Weed St.
Those two breweries are expected to help other businesses in downtown.
“I know both Flying Dreams and Lost Shoe have already been talking about partnering with local restaurants,” said Harris. “It’ll bring people downtown.”
For those opening the breweries, Marlborough offers a lot of opportunity for a taproom. Dave Richardson, owner and brewer of Flying Dreams, has been in the industry for more than a decade, first as head brewer at the Gardner Alehouse and then founding Flying Dreams. He is moving into a location that was originally supposed to house Walden Woods Brewing Company, but that company had to back out before it could even open.
Richardson said Marlborough is enticing for many reasons.
“There’s a lot of people with no breweries and no really cool places to hang out,” he said. “I didn’t see an abundance of cool bars and the like. When I looked at Marlborough, I was like ‘Marlborough is dying for a place.’ There’s a lot of industry and a lot of people who work there and commute to Marlborough that would really like a place like this.”
Hudson, which is set to have a second brewery open, is a good model, but Richardson said Marlborough has even more potential.
“Marlborough is a better location,” he said. “You’ve got Rte. 20, Rte. 495, not too far from the Pike. Downtown Marlborough has a parking garage. Downtown Hudson doesn’t have that. It’s such a huge bonus.”
For J.P. and Melynda Gallagher, opening Lost Shoe Brewing & Roasting Company in Marlborough has always been their goal. They were both born and raised in the city and they always saw its potential.
“We’ve always wanted to be here,” said J.P. Gallagher. “We love the downtown. I’m really surprised it took Marlborough so long. There are more and more breweries popping up and kind of filling in the holes across the different cities and towns. I guess it was bound to happen in Marlborough. I think, for us, what they offer us is the community aspect. There’s a lot of history of Marlborough, and there’s a lot of character in downtown.”
Melynda Gallagher said she hopes that Lost Shoe is part of the downtown revitalization.
“Everyone has a great vision for what it can be,” she said. “There’s so much potential in the downtown area. You’ve seen what happened to Hudson. The Hudson downtown is so vibrant. I think there are a lot of people who are interested in opening a small business in downtown, but they’re waiting to see something happen. They just need that one thing. Hudson had Rail Trail (Flatbread Company) and Medusa. Hopefully, we can be that something.”
Brian Powers has been aware of Marlborough’s potential for two decades. Owner of the homebrew supply store Strange Brew for 21 years, Powers has always wanted to open a brewery in the city. Zoning hindered him, but with the city’s new goal to bring in breweries, Powers finally opened his brewery, Strange Brewing, in a portion of 416 Boston Post Road East, the same building that houses his homebrew shop. The taproom is small, but Powers is currently doing a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo to renovate the taproom.
“It just takes a larger city a little more time to change things,” said Powers. “I think people are really excited about it. The region is starting to pull it together.”
The 416 Boston Post Road East location is set to become one of the more unique beer destinations in the area. Next spring, Tackle Box Brewing Company plans to open a separate taproom in the same space as Powers. The taprooms will be on opposite sides of the building, separated by the homebrew shop.
Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant said the four new breweries could be a boon for business in the city.
“I’m really excited to be part of the microbrew craze,” he said. “Everyone has been doing it. We’re excited to be involved. I have a lot of friends who go to a lot of the different breweries and are really excited to see this.”
According to the Brewers Association, a trade group for the craft beer industry, Massachusetts averages 2.5 breweries per 100,000 people. But once all four of the planned breweries in Marlborough are open, the city’s per capita will be 10 per 100,000 people.
That doesn’t bother Adam Krasinski, founder of Tackle Box Brewing Company.
“I guess time will tell,” said Krasinski. “I think we’ll drive a lot of tourism. I think it goes to pre-Prohibition days, when people visited their local breweries. People want fresh craft beer, they want to go to where it’s being made.”
Breweries being close to one another other is not a hinderance, but could instead help all brewers by drawing more people in, Harris said.
“I think it’s the idea like if you go up to Portland, Maine, you’re not going to one brewery, you’re going to many breweries,” said Harris. “It’s an outing, it’s an entire day. There are so many close by here in MetroWest. You can come out and do a MetroWest brewery tour. I think millennials, that age group, is really looking for that.”