EAST?LONGMEADOW – The Rotary Club of East Longmeadow recently hosted Ray Berry, the president of Springfield-based White Lion Brewing Company, who presented an overview of the city’s first craft brewery.
Berry said the brewery began in October 2014 and recently placed 12th out of 122 in the Valley Venture Mentor Accelerator Program, receiving grant money to build the company. White Lion was also recently one of eight craft breweries throughout the country chosen to receive a small business loan from the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program.
“We’re very fortunate to hit the ground running with a strong distribution pipeline,” he added. “Our product is distributed under Anheuser-Busch InBev, so our local distributer in Hampden and Hampshire County is Williams Distributing out of Chicopee.”
Berry said during the past eight months, the company has established 250 accounts and growth continues.
White Lion is currently brewing on a 50-barrel system and looks to expand beyond that, he noted.
“We are in conversation with the city of Springfield and other stakeholders and the endgame is to bring full-barrel production to the city, occupying 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of space,” he added. “We talk about the job creation – seven to 10 jobs.”
He added that the plans for the proposed White Lion brewing facility in Springfield would be determined by the end of 2015. Right now, the company is producing its beer utilizing the Mercury Brewing facility in Ipswich.
“We know it’s going to take six to nine months to order equipment, then another month or so to have the equipment arrive and do build out … We know that if we were able to get everything locked up by the end of 2015, it would probably take the majority of 2016 to go from start to finish,” Berry said.
Craft breweries have also seen an uptick during the past several decades, he noted. There are currently about 3,000 craft brewers across the U.S. and it is likely that number will reach 4,000 in the next five to 10 years.
White Lion’s current inventory of beers includes an American pale ale, the company’s signature product, called White Lion Pale Ale and a red ale that is “malt roasted” with a “dark hue” called Insane Mane, Berry said.
Another of the brewery’s creations, Twisted Tale, is a golden cream ale that is a good “transitional beer” for people used to drinking Bud, Miller, Corona, or Coors Light, he noted.
“This beer is a little bit light and not as hoppy,” Berry added. “It’s a good gateway beer for folks that want to try something different than just your traditional conventional ale.”
White Lion also recently released a summer session India pale ale (IPA) called feroCITY, a draft-only beer, that is very light, non-filtered with a “cloudy golden color,” a citrus flavor and a “clean and crisp” taste, Berry said.
“[This is] a beer that you can drink all day long because it’s got a low alcohol content compared to the others and is a nice summer type ale,” he added.
The company also has plans to release a dark IPA called Blued Eyed Black, named after the majority of white lions, which have blue eyes, and the dark color of the beer, Berry noted.
“Everything we do is based on the symbolism of the lion,” he added.