August 15, 2017
Manufacturing Insights

Altruist Brewing Company to open brewery, taproom in fall

Bob and Nancy Bixby, co-founders of Altruist Brewing Company in Sturbridge, are opening a brewery and taproom in the fall.

The husband-and-wife team of the Altruist Brewing Co. in Sturbridge are set to open their brewery and taproom in the fall. Once open, Bob and Nancy Bixby will join the 140 or so other breweries in the state and a craft beer market that is growing exponentially. Currently, the couple is not selling their beer to stores in an effort to remain as local as possible and grow organically.

Have you looked into distribution yet?

Nancy: That's not something that we have immediate plans to do. We're just so small, and we're looking to grow organically. If you're just doing distribution, it's going to be really hard to grow, and honestly you don't have a lot of every can that you make. It's a lot of work, and there isn't enough to invest back into the business. We're hoping to be able to invest a significant portion of what we make right back in so we can grow organically.

Bob: People ask why we don't do the Charlton-based Tree House Brewing Co. model. Honestly, I had no real interest. I like to talk beer with people, so I want a place where people can come in, drink a beer and talk about beer.

What do you make of the recent boom in the craft beer market? Is it sustainable?

Nancy: I think it's great. People just have more options, and I think that's a good thing. I think people are sick of the tasteless crap being pushed out by big corporations.

Bob: I started brewing in Maine in the 1990s, and Maine already has a beer culture. I moved back down to Massachusetts, and there was nothing. Now, it's starting to filter down from Maine. I think people are just tired of drinking yellow fizzy water.

Nancy: Some people love Bud Light, but once they get a taste for good craft beer, they can't go back. That increases demand and therefore, more breweries open up. I remember my first IPA and I was like, "What, beer can taste like this?"

Do you have any concerns about the growing craft beer market?

Nancy: If you make good beer, you'll be OK.

Bob: People always ask if our beer is like Tree House, and I keep telling them we're not like Tree House. We have beers in many different styles. If you differentiate yourself, I think you'll be fine.

How do you plan on building a reputation with the community?

Nancy: We don't want to do traditional charity donations that a lot of places are doing. We're more concerned with finding real people in the community or state that are being faced with hard times and tragedy and need some help to get them through that. We're hoping to use this as a channel to help people like that.

Have you reached out to other breweries for help? What has that support been like?

Nancy: We talk to Rapscallion's (Sturbridge) and they've been so supportive. We've gotten nothing but support and that's what we love about this industry. Everyone is just so helpful.

Bob: The folks at Medusa Brewing (Hudson) have been really helpful with us.

This interview was conducted and edited for clarity by Zachary Comeau, WBJ staff writer.

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