November 6, 2018
Manufacturing insights

Jack's Abby begins sponsorship with Worcester Railers

Photo | Edd Cote
The three Hendler brothers (from left: Jack, Sam and Eric), co-founders of Jack's Abby Craft Lagers, which makes Springdale as an experimental offshoot.

Framingham brewery Jack's Abby Craft Lagers is now one of dozens of corporate sponsors for the Worcester Railers Hockey Club, becoming just the second craft brewer to sponsor the team after Worcester's Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co. Jack's Abby Co-founder Sam Hendler told the WBJ about the arrangement and the brewery's successful 2018 so far.

When did the sponsorship begin?

This is our first year. Everything was finalized a couple weeks ago.

We wanted to link up with some local sports franchises. Big and small, there are a lot of organizations around here, and we've had some really nice success with the small guys. We were interested in doing some really fun things kind of outside of the box.

What does the agreement with the Railers entail?

We have our logo at the rink, on the boards and on signage around the DCU Center as well. We're looking forward to some opportunities to do some fun things like T-shirt giveaways at games to get people engaged with the beer.

Does Jacks have any other similar partnerships?

We worked with the Lowell Spinners this summer, which was fun. We've also worked with the Boston Cannons lacrosse team. These smaller things end up off the radar from the really big beer brands. Budweiser isn't going nuts to sponsor the Lowell Spinners. It's an area where we can come in.

The cool thing about these organizations is that they're flexible and want to do things and get more people into their stadiums and watching games.

Speaking of minor league baseball, is there any interest in a similar partnership with the Pawtucket Red Sox when they come to town?

It would be great, but that's still a couple years off. That's a really big project, and we haven't had any meetings with the team as of yet. Of course we'd love to, but it's not something we've looked at hard as of yet.

Are these kind of agreements common among craft brewers and sports?

Sam Adams just famously kicked Budweiser out of Fenway Park as the official beer of the Boston Red Sox, but that's all the way at the biggest end. On the smaller side around the country, there are definitely examples of craft brewers getting involved with big-time pro sports teams.

But I think craft brewers really excel outside of the box in smaller, more community-drive programs probably more affordable but take a lot more mindshare, time and effort to make successful.

You guys always seem to be growing quickly. What's the 2018 pace like?

We're up around 20 percent off of last year. It's been a great year. Jack's Abby is growing very healthy and our Springdale brand -- which we've launched in distribution earlier this year -- is doing better than expected so far. It's been a really successful year for us, and we're hopefully setting the table for a great 2019 as well.

Are there any plans to grow space or add capacity?

We continuously add capacity as needed. When we built this space out a few years ago, we did so in a modular way so we could quickly add capacity as needed. We just installed some new tanks a few months ago, and we'll likely be adding some capacity at some point next year.

What's this idea for a bakery?

Nothing is finalized yet, but here's a need to keep up with our current business and to build out some space for a bakery. We make all our dough for pizza from scratch, and we're pushing our beer hall facilities to the max to accomplish that.

The only place to do it is in the Springdale building next door. If we do that, there are some ideas of how to potentially use the space as a retail facility in addition to just a bakery or

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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