This article is part of a series called “So you want to start a craft brewery?” organized by the Mass Brew Bros. Five separate articles published on different blogs will profile a local brewery in planning, and then a final article will cover what the authors have learned about the challenges of opening a brewery in Massachusetts. I will add links for all of the articles in the series to the end of this piece as they go live, so check back in or follow on social media.
After more than a decade as an acclaimed home brewer, Pitkin Point co-founder Tayler Pitkin is excited to share his beer with a wider audience. While he has two additional co-founders who are committed to helping out with finance and operations, Tayler is essentially Pitkin Point. He will be the head brewer, run the business and even self-distribute the beer to start. He still has a number of hurdles to clear before the brewery begins operations, applications for a federal license are processing now and they will be followed by a massive amount of paperwork to receive the appropriate licenses from the state. Once those hurdles are cleared he hopes to provide local drinkers with a stable of flavorful ales, ranging from hop-bomb IPAs to rich and malty stouts.
Pitkin Point is planning to start as a contract brewery, the beer will be produced at an existing brewery (he is not yet at liberty to divulge where) and packaged for distribution to local bars, restaurants and bottle shops. Tayler and his family live in Carlisle, and he had initially hoped to open a full taproom in town, something that his community doesn’t have. Unfortunately he had issue finding a good space for a brewery. Most breweries are built in established industrial lots, usually repurposed mills, factories or warehouses. One of the reasons many residential-focused communities don’t have their own breweries is that these types of buildings don’t exist. Starting as a contract brewer has many advantages, there is a much lower start-up cost both in money and time, and it allows the brewery to establish the brand before committing to a taproom. He hopes to establish relationships with the brewery where he contracts, using the expertise of the brewers at the facility to enable seamless scale up of his developed homebrew recipes into production levels.
One of the big issues that contract brewers can face is that they don’t get the immediate community that a taproom can generate for a new brewery. People feel an immediate connection to a brewery in their town and want to help it succeed. Tayler wants Pitkin Point to be Carlisle’s brewery and has a number of plans to make this happen without having a taproom at launch. He is hoping to set up pop-up or seasonal beer gardens in Carlisle featuring Pitkin Point beers, similar to what Trillium did on the Greenway this summer. These beer gardens will help introduce the beers to people in town and allow Tayler to receive feedback directly from his customers.
Pitkin Point is going to emphasize family heritage, each beer is named after a specific ancestor and includes a story about the inspiration for the beer. One of the flagship beers will be The General, a New England style IPA named after one of Tayler’s ancestors who was quartermaster general for the army of the Potomac. Another beer, The Doctor, is a brown ale brewed with local honey and named for Tayler’s grandfather. A rotating IPA called The Immigrant will feature a new hop profile with every batch, and is named in honor of the first Pitkin ancestors to immigrate to the US. The beers are not available for sale yet, and won’t be until the proper licenses are acquired, but Tayler has been scaling and perfecting the recipes and sharing the beers with interested drinkers, creating some positive buzz for the brewery.
Pitkin Point is also planning on releasing a cider named Hunter Cove. Hunter Cove is a tart cider made from wild apples and yeast sourced from Hunter Cove Cabins in Rangely, Maine, which is owned by Tayler’s in-laws, keeping with the family stories that drives the beers. This release will make Pitkin Point one of a small number of breweries that also make their own cider. This cider is slightly tart, dry, flavorful and very easy drinking, it should appeal to cider fans and as well as beer fans looking to branch out. When Pitkin Point is able to open a taproom or beer garden many visitors will appreciate having a cider option in addition to the variety of beers.
With the increasing competitive market for local brewers there are a few key factors that lead to success. The first is obviously to brew amazing beer. Outside of that it is important to develop a cohesive and interesting brand, tell a good story and build a community of support. It sounds like Pitkin Point is off to a good start, it will be interesting to watch as they take the next steps and start selling their beer in the near future!