September 17, 2018

Worcester's fifth brewery

The couple behind Redemption Rock Brewing Co., Greg Carlson (left) and Danielle Babineau
A rendering of the interior of Redemption Rock's proposed space inside its Shrewsbury Street facility.

Worcester's fifth brewery and second on Shrewsbury Street hopes to jump into the Central Massachusetts craft beer scene later this year.

Redemption Rock Brewing Co. is currently building out its 6,000-square-foot space in the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on the street dubbed Restaurant Row.

Co-owner and CEO Danielle Babineau and Head Brewer Greg Carlson said construction on the space in the 78-year-old building has commenced. The couple have been leasing the space since January and began demolition work shortly after.

Aside from a mural at what will be made into an indoor patio space, the space is empty.

Their business plan is about six years in the making, which started when Babineau left her career as an architect to pursue an MBA at Babson College. She graduated in 2015 with plans to open a brewery with boyfriend Carlson, a longtime brewer currently with Framingham beermaker Jack's Abby Craft Lagers.

Since then, the pair has been perfecting recipes, securing a location and obtaining financing. Now, they look to join the city's small but lively craft beer scene.

The brewery could be the second to open in Worcester in 2018, and the city's fifth overall. Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co. opened on Millbrook St. in March.

The three other breweries in Worcester are Wormtown Brewery on Shrewsbury Street, 3Cross Fermentation Cooperative on Knowlton Avenue, and Flying Dreams Brewing Co. on Park Avenue.

Providing drinkability

The craft beer scene in Massachusetts is becoming competitive, with 166 craft breweries in the state, according to local beer blog Mass Brew Bros. Redemption Rock could be the 16th visitable craft brewery in the Central Mass. region.

However, the couple behind Redemption Rock feel the state's second-largest city has much more market capacity.

"Worcester can definitely support a lot more breweries," Babineau said.

According to Carlson, the brewery will make beer via a 10-barrel system catering to every beer drinker, but slightly more toward the drinkability side.

The American IPA trend will still be represented at Redemption Rock, but Carslon said he'll also begin with some seasonals, pilsners and a creamy ale for the summer.

The space is being designed as a cafe or hangout spot of sorts with couches and colorful designs.

As such, the beer won't be overly heavy in alcohol.

To start, Redemption Rock will sport four to six beers on tap, but that will eventually expand given the 12 tap lines being installed.

Thinking beyond financials

Like most craft brewers, the company plans to source local ingredients, but its corporate structure makes it unique among other brewers in the state.

Redemption Rock is a benefit corporation, which per state law, is a company considering the social and environmental impacts of its decision making.

Breweries coming up in this new wave of local craft beer have taken on charitable causes like Ales for ALS.

As a B Corp., the brewery will be a for-profit company held to rigorous community and environmental standards.

"This allows us to be held accountable," Carlson said.

Employees will be given the company's books, as Babineau plans to utilize open-book management, a style involving employees in the financial aspects of the company.

With a unique style of management and incorporation, Carldon and Babineau believe Redemption Rock can stand out among the craft beer market as it grows.

However, any good brewery has to first master the fundamentals of beer making.

"You have to make sure the beer coming out of those tanks is going to be good," Carlson said.


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