In the heart of historic Pawtucket, RI lies the newest chapter in Narragansett Brewing’s story.

When Mark Hellendrung took over as president he promised to one day bring brewing operations back to the Ocean State. In 2009, Narragansett launched its “Drink Your Part” campaign to raise the funds associated with relocating. Earlier this year, Hellendrung came through.

“It’s great to pay off on that promise,” he said with a smile.

Hellendrung took over as president of Narragansett Brewing Co. in 2005, shortly after his previous company, Nantucket Nectars, was bought by Snapple. While at a bar in Newport sometime in 2002, Hellendrung found himself wondering, “Whatever happened to Narragansett?”

Now over 10 years later, Narragansett is ranked the 38th best selling brewery in the country, according to the Brewers Association.

Credit Narragansett Beer Facebook
Credit Narragansett Beer Facebook

Hellendrung said he’s happy “to see Rhode Island playing catch up” to the national craft brewing scene.

Located in the sprawling 130,000 sq. ft. cooperative facility officially known as The Guild, the space will allow for production and brand awareness to grow exponentially.

Narragansett is both partners and part-owner of the complex run by the Isle Brewers Guild. Space and equipment will also be available to a handful of smaller brewers.

Most of Narragansett's flagship lager will still be brewed in Rochester, NY, but the Pawtucket facility will brew its growing lines of craft and specialty beers and even some of the locally distributed lager for Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. It will also allow for more experimentation with new, bold concoctions.

There will be plenty for fans to sample when visiting thanks to the 100-barrel brewhouse. Folks can purchase some merchandise and talk to the brewers while enjoying a local cold one.

Like many craft brewers, Hellendrung noted how important it is to have a personal connection with customers, such as through a taproom or beer festival.

“No matter how big you still meet people that don’t know what you’re doing,” he said.

Visitors will also have the chance to pick up some knowledge thanks to the “1890 Room.”

Greg Desrosiers/TSM
Greg Desrosiers/TSM

“People will leave our place learning something,” Hellendrung said.

The 1890 Room will feature some of the best memorabilia from the company’s 125 years, including advertisements for the Boston Red Sox and marketing materials created by Dr. Seuss.

The new facility is expected to be open to the public by the end of the summer, with full brewing-operations kicking off by the fall.


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