Ragged Island Brewing Company in Portsmouth has entered a purchase and sales agreement to buy the Garden Shop building and 37-acre Van Hof Nursery property at 54 Bristol Ferry Road in Portsmouth.

“We are really excited about the potential of preserving this beautiful agricultural property and expanding our business right here on Aquidneck Island”, said Matthew Gray, a partner in Ragged Island Brewing Company in a statement provided to What’sUpNewp. “As a Newport native and Portsmouth resident I am proud to know we are going to have a big impact on our local community.”

Ragged Island Brewing Company was founded in 2016 and opened their initial brewery facility at 200 High Point Ave in the Portsmouth Business Park. The company is independently owned and operated by business partners Patrick and Liz Donovan, John and Margo Almeida, and Matt and Katie Gray.  Since opening on St. Patrick’s Day of 2017, the brewery has been a hit with locals and beer tourists alike.  The brewery first opened as a 1 bbl brewhouse and quickly that proved to be too small.  The friends/business partners that own the brewery immediately jumped up to a 3.5 bbl brewhouse which has again proven to be too small.

Capacity at the current location is maxed out and the owners say they cannot keep up with demand locally.  They have already started to contract their Beach Night IPA production at Stony Creek in Branford, CT in order to keep up with the demand from bars and restaurants.  Popular beers such as Coggeshall Pale Ale,  Hydrofoil DIPA, and Baulston Porter are among the 47 styles of beer the company has produced in their small facility.

“With successful agri-business examples like Newport Vineyards (Middletown), Buzzards Bay Brewing (Westport), Tilted Barn Brewing (Exeter) and Sweet Berry Farm (Middletown) it is clear that creating a destination is something that will attract new business while allowing us to grow our own crops and scale up our brewing capacity to meet current demand and future growth,” said Gray.  “These destinations offer more than just beer, wine, and fruit picking. They offer positive family and community-centric experiences which is all we can hope for at Ragged Island.”

The vision for 54 Bristol Ferry Road includes growing hops, fruits and other crops that compliment the brewing business, building a brand new, state of the art brewery on the property and hosting events such as farmers markets and other locally focused gatherings like anniversary parties, reunions, birthdays and charity events.

“Our family has owned and operated a business at this farm for over 80 years.  My brothers and I all agree that the vision and goals of Ragged Island are the best possible use of our property going forward.  Preserving this land from development and helping a small local business grow fits perfectly at this location,” the Van Hof family said in a statement provided to What’sUpNewp.

“The Van Hof Brothers have been very supportive of our vision to turn their family farm into a destination agricultural business and keep this land from development,” said Patrick Donovan, owner of Ragged Island in the statement.  “We share the same goal in preserving this land and keeping it a working farm.  The Town of Portsmouth has a long, successful farming history and having the Van Hof’s blessing means a lot to us.”

The next step in the process for Ragged Island Brewing Company is to gain local zoning approval and finalize plans for the new brewery building on the land.  A closing date of November 1, 2018, is set and both the buyers and the sellers hope for a smooth transition.  If all goes as planned Ragged Island Brewing Company plans to be in operation at the new facility no later than fall 2019.

“This location is ideal for our business in every way,” said Gray. “Our current location is not visible from any roadways so it has a speakeasy feel to it.  The Garden Shop is an iconic building in Portsmouth with the huge greenhouse and retail shop on the street front.  The large farmland behind the storefront will allow us to grow a ton of hops and other crops to compliment the brewing business.  The saying goes – “No Farms, No Beer”, and we could not be more excited to operate a farm-based brewery right here in Portsmouth.”

For more information on Ragged Island Brewing Company, visit www.raggedislandbrewing.com.

Update: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated it was “Van Hoff”, it is in fact “Van Hof”. We apologize for this error.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.