A group of North Shore and Boston-area business heavy weights have decided to make a huge investment in Lynn, as they seek to blend their business expertise, connections and capital with a love of craft brewing.
Led by Swampscott businessman Aaron Reames and master brewer John Strom, the group of investors has leased a site at the old Lynn Lumber compound on Commercial Street, just off the Lynnway, and will open the Bent Water craft brewery later this year, with the first beer from the plant being available to the public in early 2016.
“We saw an opportunity to get into a thriving marketplace and also take care of our own backyard,” said Reames, who has spent the better part of the past decade looking for a way to turn his love of science and passion for beer making, into a profitable venture.
“I have a background in molecular genetics,” explained Reames, who once studied genetics as a graduate student at Ohio State, but now works as a financial manager. “Back in 2002, I was introduced to brewing and found that it really is a culmination of a little bit of art, but heavy on the science.”
With his background in research science, Reames began dreaming of a way to build better beers and by 2008 he was even looking for properties and business models that could help him launch a company to do that.
During that time he picked up other investors, mostly fellow businessmen and colleagues, who shared his passion for craft brewing and wanted to find a way to utilize their different talents and experiences to build a new company. Reames points out that all of the investors, including himself, are dedicated to their current careers but were looking for a way to use their experiences to build something of their own and that day to day operation of the brewery will be handled by Strom.
Among the main investors with Reames and Strom are Michael Shaungnessy of Boston communications and averting company Hill Holiday and has a background in marketing and branding and Chris Crawford, who will be leading the brewery’s sales effort. Strom is a graduate of the Siebels Institute’s Master Brewing Program in Chicago and has also studied at Doemen’s Academy in Munich Germany. There are other investors as well.
“We all have different skill sets and things we bring to the table,” said Reames.
After several years of searching for the right location, Reames said that Lynn businessman Nick Menino and Jim Cowdell of the Lynn EDIC made the decision to locate in Lynn an easy one.
“We were looking to locate on the North Shore, and Swampscott and Marblehead were not a great fit, we were looking for a place that wanted to partner with us, so I began talking to Jim Cowdell and Lynn was open to new businesses and new concepts,” recalled Reames. “Ad Nick is just a great person to work with, he made us an offer (for the space) that made it impossible for us to say no.”
Added Cowdell, “Mayor Kennedy and the Council had made it a goal to attract a brewery to Lynn, and when you talk to Aaron (Reames) you just realize what smart guy he is and how well prepared he and his team are for this project,” said Cowdell.
The Lynn EDIC thought enough of the Bent Water business model that they provided a $200,000 start-up loan to the group to help get it off the ground.
Currently, the new brewery is under construction, while the fledgling company awaits its licenses to brew and sell beer from both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the federal government.
Reames said they are anticipating the physical build out of the facility to be completed in November, including the installation of their brewing equipment and canning equipment, while the licensing should come through in December.
“That would mean beer in late January or early February 2016,” he said.
The current sales and distribution plan, according to Reames is to focus the operation mostly on the brewing and canning operation and largely distribute the new product through liquor and package stores in Greater Boston and across New England. However, he said the beer will also be available on tap in select bars and restaurants between Boston and Beverly and the brewery will also have a Tap Room with regularly scheduled tasting hours each week, the details of which still have to be worked out.
When the facility opens, Bent Water will have the capacity to brew between 10,000 to 15,000 barrels of beer each year, much larger than most start up breweries.
And, because Reames and his partners have focused so much on the science of beer making, the facility will be technologically advanced and almost completely controlled through the use of I-Pads. Remes said that attention to brewing detail and technical capability will allow Bent Water to have more control of quality standards as well.
Bent Water will have three main styles that will be available year-round including an Extra Pale Ale, a Kolsch or Sessions style beer and an IPA.
In addition, the brewery plans a rotation of experimental series beers as well as seasonal series beers.