The Guild: One Year Later
Brick walls, wooden rafters, and a concrete floor. What’s wrapped up inside of that foundational blanket? A community. A place where friends can play a massive game of Jenga, where you can have a beer with your dog by your side, where the business owners care as much about their customers as they do the bottomline. All of that against a backdrop of massive steel tanks, live music, and kind hearted bartenders. Welcome to The Guild, one year old and going strong!
Recently The Guild, Pawtucket’s premier partner brewery, celebrated its one year anniversary. And to say that they’ve been busy is an understatement. The first time I talked with partners Jeremy Duffy and Devin Kelly was in October of 2016, back then The Guild was little more than a blank canvas of an industrial space and lofty dreams. Now it’s a thriving community taproom that sees an average of 900 people each weekend. They’ve hosted close to 60 events already. Six million beers have been canned here since March. And they’re going to top 40,000 barrels this year. In short, they’re really busy. So much so that they are adding to those impressively large steel tanks I mentioned earlier.
Let me hit you with some rapid-fire stats. Currently if you sit in the tap room you can see seven fermentation tanks, six 300s tanks (which hold 100,000 glasses of beer), and one 100. That alone gets them to 35,000 barrels. BUT WAIT, there’s more! To keep up with demand they’re adding Saturday brewing and any day now two more 300s and a 200 tank will be added.
Where does all this beer go? No, the taproom itself isn’t single-handedly intoxicating the whole state. The Guild is a (now organically certified) partner brewery. That means they produce beer for their nine partners, including Narragansett, Newburryport, Willie’s Superbrew, Devil’s Purse, Night Shift, Wash Ashore, Great North, Monopolio, and more.
Additionally they have a 10 barrel (that’s 17 kegs) pilot system which allows their partners to experiment with cool new beer ideas. It also means taproom exclusives you can only find at 461 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI. and a new partnership with Johnson & Wales University this August which will result in a brewing academy. The program will include continuing education, undergrad, and more. So if you’re a home brewer looking to one-up your future competition, here you go!
Look, I love the taproom here at The Guild. Full disclosure I live close enough to walk, so I’m a frequent patron. The vibe is always comfortable and cozy, it has a small town bar feel with a big city product. But when you’re fielding as many events as they do, there are times you have to close to the public. Or at least that’s what they used to do…Enter the special events hall. That’s right, they now have a building just for such occasions. Which means the taproom can keep doing its thing even if there’s a wedding. (People are getting married here and you just asked yourself why didn’t I think of that!)
The next step: Beer Hall. With a goal of opening it in August, The Guild is renovating the space it shares a courtyard with, seriously - it’s like ten feet from the current tap room. A lengthy bar, long German-style tables, a warming station with meats/cheeses/breads, and beautiful new windows overlooking the courtyard. That’s what will fill the new space. Of course the current taproom will still exist, but this will allow people a more traditional indoor space to eat, drink, and be merry in. Jeremy Duffy, the co-founder and managing partner, told me “People don’t just come here for the beer. People come together where they can connect. And we want to be that platform for them.”
The Beer Hall spills out into what will become the Beer Garden, the adjacent courtyard I mentioned earlier. From here you can hear the laughing and chatting from the nearby taproom. And yes, there are plans for this area too. Local musicians already let their tunes fly here and now there are talks of having a Shakespeare summer comedy series performed in the near future. If you haven’t been, the outdoor area is pretty large compared to other bars' patio seating. There’s a lot of opportunity here, that's what it brews down to.
Brick walls, wooden rafters, and a concrete floor. That’s a theme you’ll see when visiting here. It’s something Jeremy takes great care in preserving. “We want the history of the building to live,” he told me. “It’s still the pillars of beer, food, music, art. And those are our pillars. We live within those pillars and try to do as many cool things as possible within them.”
And they are. A quick look at the events on their Facebook page will tell you that. It’s a cavalcade of local musicians, dog-friendly parties, food trucks and pop-ups, release parties, and much more.
Look, I know I’m bias because this is my place. Isn’t that the whole point? We’re all looking for our place, that little slice of local where we feel most comfortable. That feeling that can’t be manufactured, can't be faked. Soon you’ll have your choice of hanging out in the taproom, sitting down in the beer hall, getting hitched in the special events space or just chilling with some Shakespeare in the park garden. But it actually doesn’t matter where you decide to park yourself, because it’s all just The Guild. Grab a porter or an IPA and pick a chair, a stool or a bench - get to know them and I guarantee they’ll get to know you back. Because that’s what happens in a community.
Thanks for reading!
+ Colin Carlton