In Portsmouth, Matt Gray and five other co-owners of Ragged Island Brewing Co., a new microbrewery specializing in IPAs, are working hard to open the taproom’s doors next month. Last summer, we broke the news that the entrepreneurs had signed a lease at their 200 High Point Ave location, and now they’re just waiting on one final piece of paperwork, a federal permit, to come through.
Once Ragged Island opens, Gray said they’ll start small by brewing 30 gallons (about one keg) at a time and will plan to be open for tastings on Saturdays and Sundays. “We’re going to start with a few IPA styles,” Gray said, “and we’ ll also have a porter and another style we like, an ESB, which stands for extra special bitter.” Craft beer fans can expect to see three to four types of beer to sample when they visit.
Brewmaster John Almeida, who’s been brewing since the 80s, is currently working on a few test batches and refining the recipes for different variations of his TwoTree IPA, a name that evolved from saying the phrase “two, three beers.” Almeida said he initially took up brewing as a hobby because he didn’t like the beer he was buying. “So, I decided to make my own beer and make it good,” he said.
Gray’s connection to Almeida, who lives in Maine, is a “very Newport” story, Gray explained. Gray grew up in Newport with Patrick Donovan, and John Almeida is Patrick’s wife Liz’s father. Together, the three couples – Matt and Katie Gray, Patrick and Liz Donovan, and John and Margo Almeida – own the brewery.
The entrepreneurial pack of six formed a partnership about a year ago. “It started because Matt, Patrick and my daughter and son-in-law kept coming up and drinking my beer,” Almeida said. “Finally they said, ‘let’s start a brewery’, and they talked me into it.” Almeida has been retired for about twenty years, but has been busy sailing, building homes and brewing since then.
Gray has hopes that Ragged Island will eventually become a beer destination in the region. “If the demand is there, we have the space to grow,” he said.
Ragged Island won’t be doing any bottling at first, which means you’ll need to go to the Ragged Island taproom to try it for yourself. Stay tuned to WhatsUpNewp for more details on the opening date of Aquidneck Island’s newest microbrewery.