Backlash Beer Company is getting a home of its own.
The five-year-old brewing company is close to signing a lease on a space in Roxbury that will house its first brick-and-mortar brewery. Until now, the Backlash brand has been contract-brewed at other breweries around the state. Founders Helder Pimentel and Maggie Foley have been looking for a permanent brewing space for more than a year.
“There are so few potential locations in Boston, but we were really committed to doing something within the city,” says Pimentel. “That’s sort of where our core demographic is.”
Backlash’s new Roxbury home will occupy the bottom floor of a former refrigerator factory, built in the 1800s, about a mile from the South End. The top floor was recently renovated into office space.
“Everyone upstairs is super-excited. Obviously having a brewery in your office is pretty sick,” says Pimentel.
Since launching in 2011, Backlash has reflected the changing craft beer scene, starting up when contract brewing was a popular method of entry. Riding another trend earlier this year, Backlash switched up the packaging of its flagship beers, Ricochet IPA and Groundswell Belgian Blonde, to cans. Helder describes the current climate as challenging.
“Selling through wholesale and distribution right now is really really difficult,” he says. “There’s so many brands out there. You really need a dedicated sales presence to stay top of mind. You fall off pretty quickly with all the new beers.”
With a dedicated brewing space, Backlash will join Notch Brewery, which recently opened a brewery and tap room in Salem after years of contract brewing, as well as new entrants like Barrel House Z and Bone Up Brewing, which skipped the contract phase altogether.
“We were sort of taking the temperature of the market,” says Pimentel. “Things obviously change really quickly. The longer we waited, the more you could see that everyone was going that route.
“It’s something that’s really valuable to the customer to be able to go experience the brand firsthand.”
The new brewery will allow Backlash to expand its beer offerings. Pimentel says he has been itching to brew barrel-aged and sour beers, something that wasn’t possible in a contract setting. A limited members-only program will give subscribers access to those brews.
Backlash, which has set up a crowdfunding campaign, hopes to open the new brewery sometime in the spring.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen