NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

June 27, 2013

Hopping to it

Beer company brews up a grand opening celebration

By Ann Reily
Features Editor

---- — It all started the night the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

While Boston’s hockey team didn’t enjoy the same success this year, Newburyport residents Bill Fisher and Chris Webb are celebrating the fruition of their own winning idea this weekend.

On Saturday, Newburyport Brewing Co. officially opens to the public with a free, family-friendly celebration featuring tastings, tours of the brewery, food trucks, children’s games and live music.

Webb, a former guidance counselor and sales and marketing professional, and Fisher, who previously worked as a marketing director, were watching that 2011 game together when they came up with the idea for the brewery. They quickly got to work putting together an advisory team, securing $1 million through investors and a small business loan, finding the location in an industrial park off Graf Road, and obtaining all of the proper equipment.

With the help of brewmaster Mike Robinson, they developed three canned beers, all made with natural ingredients: Newburyport Pale Ale, Plum Island Belgian White and Green Head IPA.

“Fresh, local, high-quality beer, that’s what we’re all about,” said Fisher, 38.

Their first batch was brewed this past Valentine’s Day. And the last piece, their pouring permit, fell into place a couple of weeks ago.

While the beers pay tribute to the city, the tasting room will soon follow suit. Pointing to the empty walls earlier this week, Webb explained his vision for the space, which will feature “then and now” photos of Newburyport landmarks, along with work by local artists. He also hopes to display a history of the city, as well as a guide to the brewery itself.

“We want people to think of this as their brewery,” said Webb, 43. “We want this to be a showpiece center for the city.”

Fisher and Webb are not just passionate about beer, they are also both musicians who are members of the funk band Das Pintos. Webb is the lead singer and guitarist, and Fisher plays the trumpet and keyboard.

Combining their love of music with their new business, the two hope to regularly showcase local bands in the tasting room. And each six-pack of Newburyport Brewing beer comes with a guitar pick.

“We’re in the business of making people happy and creating fun through the vehicle of music,” Webb said, adding that he also hopes to get bands involved in the brewing process and creating original content for the company’s website.

“We love the idea of seeing your favorite bands interact in a way they don’t usually,” he said.

Saturday’s event, which runs from noon to 7 p.m., will feature music by Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket, Playing for Crickets, House of Jack and Evers Webb. Webb and Fisher also plan to perform.

Following the grand opening celebration, the brewing company’s official business hours will start Friday, July 5. The doors will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays for brewery tours and sales of T-shirts, glassware, hats, six-packs and other merchandise. Starting at 5 p.m., beer can be sampled and purchased in take-home growlers. Saturday hours will be noon to 8 p.m., with beer available the whole time.

Speaking of the beer, Fisher and Webb hope to add three to four seasonal brews to the line in the next year.

“We might do a surprise small batch this fall,” Webb said.

They also plan to add a root beer at some point, something their children (Fisher has three, and Webb has two) can enjoy.

With the help of a partnership with the Massachusetts Beverage Alliance, they hope to expand their distribution outside the region into the entire state and, eventually, beyond.

But for now, they are enjoying their success and trying to keep up with demand. Even though they only started brewing a few months ago, their beer is available at a number of restaurants, bars and package stores on the North Shore and in the Merrimack Valley and Boston.

“So far, we can’t keep the product on the shelves,” Fisher said.

If you go

What: Newburyport Brewing Co. grand opening

When: Saturday, noon to 7 p.m., rain or shine

Where: 4 New Pasture Road, Newburyport

How much: Free. Food and merchandise available to purchase.

More information: www.nbptbrewing.com