Castle Island Brewing founder Adam Romanow ended up opening his brewery in Norwood in 2015 after he was unable to find a viable space in his South Boston neighborhood, home to the landmark that inspired the company’s name.
Now, nearly six years later, Romanow is finally able to achieve that original dream: Castle Island Brewing is unveiling plans on Tuesday to open a taproom at 10 Old Colony Ave., at the site of the former Cole Hersee plant. An added bonus: Members of his extended family had previously owned and run the South Boston electrical switch plant for years.
“It’s unreal, quite honestly,” Romanow said. “This is something we always wanted. But there’s a difference between wanting something and making it happen.”
Romanow said he had raised equity funding, secured a Small Business Administration loan, and signed a lease with National Development for the Southie property. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Romanow had to think more about survival than expansion. Castle Island was forced to furlough 30 of its 35 employees in March 2020 but was able to bring everyone back soon after receiving funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
The resurgence in the economy, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and the loosening of business restrictions have given him confidence to go ahead with the project.
Romanow said he expects to create an additional 35 jobs at the South Boston location and is shooting for a July opening. He also plans to add about 10 jobs at the Norwood brewery, where a sign that hung above the loading docks when he first moved in has become a company mantra: “If you’re not proud of it, don’t ship it.”
Castle Island shipped about 7,700 barrels of beer last year, down from 8,500 in 2019. Still, its 2020 performance was good enough to rank it 10th among Massachusetts craft brewers based on volume, according to the Boston Business Journal. Its biggest seller, by far, remains the Keeper IPA.
The South Boston taproom will feature an “innovation brewery,” a tasting room and event space, a full kitchen, and an outdoor patio. As with the Norwood location, the Southie taproom will feature food from Lombardo’s, the Randolph-based event space and catering service. Castle Island’s lease includes 9,000 square feet indoors and an 1,800-square-foot patio.
Romanow said he’s encouraged by the amenities that National Development has attracted to the former Cole Hersee building as it advances a broader development vision for the once-industrial stretch along Old Colony Avenue. Those tenants include the likes of Rock Spot, a climbing gym, and B/Spoke, the indoor cycling studio. “It’s a really compelling vision for us, what they’re designing for the whole area,” Romanow said.