August 18, 2017

Wormtown opening NH location, co-founder divesting

PHOTO/MATT VOLPINI
Wormtown Brewery founding partner Ben Roesch, developer Robert Branca, former founding partner Tom Oliveri and managing partner David Fields inside their facility on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester.

Worcester's Wormtown Brewery is opening a second location in New Hampshire after one of the brewery's co-founders agreed to sell his interest in the brewery.

The brewery said Friday it will open its second location in a building at 472 Winchester St. in Keene, formerly the site of Clarke Distributors, Inc.

Co-founder Tom Oliveri has agreed to sell his shares to a group led by Richard and Jay Clarke, former owners of Clarke Distributors, a beer, wine and soft drink distribution business. That company was sold recently, according to Wormtown announcement, but still owns the Keene building.

The Keene brewery is slated to serve as a pilot brewery and taproom featuring creative, brewery-only releases while still offering award-winning beers, like the Be Hoppy IPA.

In an interview with the Worcester Business Journal, Managing Partner David Fields said he's known the Clarkes well for almost 20 years and the move has been in the works for some time.

Fields had been eyeing the location for a possible expansion and the Clarkes asked to be part of the team.

"Keene is our home and we are building this out as a place to help promote beer tourism in Northern New England as well as bringing that culture to Keene," said Richard Clarke in a press release.

The brewery's plans for expansion in Worcester were initially halted by a lack of space at their current 72 Shrewsbury St. location, but 20,000-square-feet of space was recently freed up to allow the brewery to expand, making its search for another location unnecessary.

However, the Clarkes were still interested, Fields said.

"Even though we were committing - in a major way - to Worcester by adding 20,000 square feet, spending a couple million dollars and hiring a dozen people over the next year, we still saw room for a really cool, unique and creative experience in northern New England," he said.

Fields said the brewery will operate in about 15,000-square-feet of space and produce up to 3,000 barrels.

Despite the increased capacity, the Keene location will be "much more taproom focused," Fields said.

In a statement, master brewer and co-founder Ben Roesch said the additional location will allow the brewery to be more creative, as it was in its early days.

"This brewery is about the opportunity to be more creative in the beer that we brew," he said.

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