Norwood’s Castle Island Brewing Company rejoices in Southie
NORWOOD, MA – The scent of hops and orange mingled seductively at Castle Island Brewing Company in Norwood, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere. Rock music played in the background as workers pored over their art of making locally-inspired beers with mass appeal.
Connection is a main theme that company founder and president Adam Romanow spoke about in an hour-long interview with Patch. The brewery was able to meet the challenges of the pandemic by creating a strong bond with Norwood residents and businesses that fueled its recent expansion to a second location in South Boston.
Being part of the community is key. The brewery hosted the upcoming Fall Crawl on Wednesday, November 10 as a fundraiser for the Friends of Norwood Center, and it also hosted a Friendsgiving event on November 20.
âIt’s been a long journey for us,â he said, noting that the company will be celebrating its anniversary next month. âWhat started out as the three of us who really got it going and kicked it off grew to 10 in the first year. And now, between the two sites, we have around 70 employees. ”
He noted that Castle Island is now one of the top 15 breweries in the state by size on an estate of 220.
âWe sell most of our beer within a 15 to 20 mile radius of Norwood itself,â Romanow said. “While we distribute in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, our best restaurant and bar accounts are very close to the brewery.”
Castle Island Brewing Company had no initial plans to open in Norwood – hence the name. But the 36-year-old found the perfect location in a former cleaning supplies warehouse at 31 Astor Ave.
âWhat we have here doesn’t really exist in the city, so we broadened our search geographically because we didn’t want to bend to our business model,â Romanow explained. “We’re excited to be Norwood’s very first brewery. We didn’t know how people were going to receive it, but in the end we got a lot of support from the city.”
The brewery has helped Norwood in several ways. It not only provides a refreshing and relaxing place to unwind and soak up, but also provides plenty of jobs in manufacturing and hospitality. It supplies local bars and restaurants. It also attracts people to Norwood for beer tours, which are becoming increasingly popular, which also encourages visitors to explore local restaurants and shops.
“It creates a bit of a rising tide for local municipalities,” he explained.
The facility brews approximately 2,000 gallons of beer per day, and another 2,000 are packed.
The Castle Island Brewing Company mantra is displayed on the sign above the loading dock: âIf you’re not proud of it, don’t ship it. Ironically, the sign came with the building. But it’s a philosophy that everyone has taken to heart.
âIt was a literal, figurative sign that told us things were going to work out,â Romanow said. “We wanted to build beer around the idea that it should be inclusive, accessible and great.”
One aspect that customers appreciate is being able to see the beer production and see the 60 barrel tanks.
“It breaks down the barrier between the manufacturer and the consumer,” he said. “You feel it. You see it, and it’s a very connected experience. We have a liquid-loving team and a shared camaraderie.”
The brewery has found several ways to get around the limitations imposed by the pandemic. As of March 2020, there was $ 60,000 worth of beer that couldn’t be sold. Three hundred gallons were shipped to a South Boston distillery, where its alcohol content was increased to form a liquid hand sanitizer.
âIt was a fun little experience,â he said. “But we lost a lot of money, so I probably wouldn’t do it again. It just smelled like hops, which was great.”
Another example of creativity was creating online beer tastings on Zoom.
âIt was really designed for corporate clients, but we also created some social groups,â Romanow said. Up to 50 guests attended at a time. Castle Island has delivered four packs of different flavored beers to the Massachusetts locations so people can hook up around beers.
The brewery also launched a curbside service, which helped the business soar. He then partnered with Katsaroubas Bros. during this time to offer $ 30 product boxes as well as weekly fish pickups provided by Wulf’s Fish.
âIt was a good hub that allowed people to have one-stop shopping and generate traffic here,â he said.
All employees have been able to stay on board since April 2020 thanks to government assistance to the company. This has been crucial at a time when employers are struggling to find staff.
The South Boston Brewery and Brewery opened up the experience to young urban consumers, but that was also delayed by COVID-19.
âWe were ready to start construction in April 2020,â Romanow said. “But of course, in March 2020 the world came to a screeching halt.”
Construction began last December, opening in September due to supply chain constraints.
âIn many ways it’s a dream come true,â he said. âWe manufacture in Southie, so you have that old school feel. But you can come and have a beer and a pizza at the bar to bring the mix of the new school with a high class restaurant. ”
To learn more about the South Shore of Bardo pizza bar that the brasserie serves, click here.
However, this was not Romanow’s initial dream. He studied economics and philosophy at Connecticut College and worked as an executive compensation consultant.
âI didn’t like that feeling, so I volunteered at a brewery and worked as an unpaid apprentice,â he explained. âAt the end, I said, ‘I think this beer story is for me, and I’m going to start my own business.’
âWe have created something really special,â he added. “We have employed a lot of people and created a lot of happiness.”
To find out more, visit the company’s website.