- March 14, 2018
- June 1, 2017
Castle Island Brewing Co.
Cocktail of the Week: The Green Horizon
Cocktail of the Week: Canary in a Coal Mine
When the consulting company employing Adam Romanow began to fold in 2010, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The young beer enthusiast became an apprentice at White Birch Brewing in Hooksett, New Hampshire, expecting a fun short-term gig while sorting out his career. But it only took six months of production and a year of marketing with White Birch for him to “fall in love with the beer business,” he says.
With a newfound dream of launching his own brand, Romanow spent the next five years researching the beer market and building up a team. “At the end of the day, I was more motivated by being able to produce a physical product I could hand to someone for their enjoyment than by the spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations I had been generating for the prior nine years,” he told us.
While the name “Castle Island Brewing” is a nod to Southie, where Romanow originally planned to set up shop, he ultimately found a home in a 20,000-square-foot warehouse right off Providence Highway in Norwood. In November 2015, Romanow and head brewer Matt DeLuca pulled an all-nighter brewing their first batch, and a month later opened doors to the public. That first brew—which clocked in at 7.2 percent ABV—was named TBD. Essentially a stout-IPA hybrid, it’s nothing if not unique: Flavors of herbs and spicy, earthy hops contrast with roasty cocoa, coffee grounds, and charred malts. It wasn’t long before it gained a cult following.
Today, three beers are available in cans and on draft year-round at the Norwood site: Candlepin, Keeper, and Lager. Candlepin, a low-ABV session ale inspired by a famed Southie bowling alley, is brimming with Columbus and Citra hops, exhibiting a piney edge and a tart finish. The flagship IPA, Keeper, is a bit heavier but still remarkably smooth—sweet with tropical fruit and caramel malts, it finishes with a touch of bitterness. American Lager is crisp as hell and, thus, ultra-poundable. The brewery also offers a line of seasonal suds, like Jetty—a dry-hopped sour ale brewed with wild yeast—released in the spring. Watch out for limited-edition beers (which have included a sweet-potato-infused brown ale and a silky toasted-coconut porter), and keep an eye out for a rotating series of double IPAs.
The brewery kicked off a massive expansion in 2016 and aims to open its tap room by mid-June, 2017. The new draft system will feature 16 lines, including three dedicated to year-round beers; three to seasonals, rotating, and limited releases; and one to nitro cold-brew coffee. That leaves Castle Island’s team nine lines to experiment with on a whim. Romanow plans to install a five-barrel pilot system, which will allow him to crank out some experimental and one-off beers. Expect communal seating at four long beer-hall style tables as well as a standing bar overlooking the production facility. Games like cornhole and Jenga will be there for the playing, and snacks, occasional pop-ups, local food trucks, and picnicking are sure to draw the crowds.
If you find yourself smitten with the suds, you’ll be able to purchase four-packs of 16 oz. cans ($11 to $13) plus glassware and T-shirts.
While tours and tastings are temporarily on hold during construction, they’ll resume this summer once the taproom is finished. In the meantime, pick up Castle Island’s beers at local retail stores, bars, and restaurants, including The Salty Pig, Lucca, Clery’s, JM Curley, Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale, The Tip Tap Room, Carrie Nation, Townsman, and The Lower Depths.