Brewery Local: Grey Sail Brewing
Elegant Victorian architecture, displays of exquisite granite work and beautifully landscaped Wilcox Park charm visitors of downtown Westerly, Rhode Island. Designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as ‘one of the twelve most distinctive destinations in the country’, historic downtown is a hip arts scene with a reputation as Southern Rhode Island’s dining and nightlife destination.
With the beach as the town’s backyard, Jennifer Brinton proudly describes Westerly as the perfect place for raising a family and owning a business. It’s here, nestled near the scenic bank of the Pawcatuck River, where she helped to bring Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island to life.
What is the backstory of the brewery?
We are a family owned craft brewery run daily by what we term as “our brewery family”. This business started because I wanted to go back to work after my third child entered Kindergarten. Brewing was always my husband Alan’s hobby and passion. When we first met he had a business plan and was ready to go when the right location came his way, but starting a family put that on hold. For our tenth anniversary our gift to each other was to commit to building a brewery. With the help of our friend and now business partner we found our location at 63 Canal Street.
Our plan was to go slow and steady and have Alan brewing part time and Daniel Rivera, who was with us from the day we purchased the building, running the day to day logistics. Then we were introduced to Josh Letourneau and our whole plan changed. He was the right guy to become our head brewer. On a dime the plan changed and we were a full-fledged microbrewery by November 2011. With our steady growth, Michelle Clark joined us less than a year later. Earl Whitford and Cara Lieffers joined us to handle sales in Connecticut and Rhode Island respectively. Rich just joined us in November and here we are with 6 full time staff members who are truly a brewery family.
What’s the reception by the locals been like?
Fantastic and supportive. By the middle of 2016 we will be at max capacity of 7,500 bbls. When we started 4 years ago we had less than 2,000 bbls capacity.
What style of beers do you brew?
The year round brews include a Cream Ale, Porter, Belgian Wit, Oktoberfest, IPAs, and an IPL. Our chalkboard series allows the brewing staff to be creative with one-off batches representing various styles.
Any exciting upcoming plans?
We are currently finishing up with the installation of new equipment which now has us out of space. Plans are being developed for a 3,000 square foot addition to the building. We just bought the iconic house next door and are in the process of getting it ready to open as a separate tap room.
How has your experience been working with BSG?
Fantastic. Great Relationship. As the one who first drove the truck and made all the grain pickups I can say I really enjoyed my weekly visits to pick up grain. The guys are welcoming and friendly.