Check Out What’s Brewing in Berkley
Over the next few weeks, we'll be taking a closer look at local breweries as part of the new Brewsday Series, all leading up to the 2016 Providence on Tap Craft Beer Festival on June 18 at Roger Williams Park. Check out the link below for tickets.
Tucked away in the small farming community of Berkley is a rapidly growing brewery just waiting to expand.
Glenn Barboza is the owner, founder and brewmaster of Berkley Beer Company, a nano brewery based out of his barn for the past four years. Founded in 2012, the three-barrel brewery has come a long way in a short amount of time and may soon break out to a larger facility that will open up seemingly endless opportunity for expansion.
About the Brewer
A drywaller and plasterer by trade, Barboza spent around 20 years in the industry before changing career paths and moving to work as an underground cable installer for Comcast in 2005.
During this time, he also enjoyed homebrewing in his kitchen as a hobby. As his passion for brewing grew, he began supplying the beer to parties of family and friends, who encouraged him to become a full fledged brewmaster. The idea clicked and on August 11, 2012, the first batch of beer was served.
Since that first batch, Berkley Beer Co. has continued to grow in the SouthCoast area.
Without a tap room or a larger brewery, it’s tough to market the company since people can’t visit and see what type of work goes into brewing the beer. Word of mouth is the main form of advertisement, and that’s why events like beer tastings and festivals really help to boost brand recognition.
“People in my own town don’t even know we exist,” Barboza said. “Word of mouth is how we get ourselves out there.”
Beer festivals offer attendees the chance to taste different beers for the first time and also get to know the brewers themselves. This kind of interaction helps promote that word of mouth, and can contribute to a growing customer base.
“It’s an incredible feeling when a stranger tells you how much they love something you’ve made,” Barboza said.
Along with meeting fellow customers and beer enthusiasts, Barboza has also culminated some friendships within the industry. However, he does admit that the the industry is a bit of a “mixed bag” when it comes to networking and competition.
Like any trade, some brewers are more tight-lipped than others, while some are very personable and partnerships can lead to some great collaborations.
A majority of the work is still performed by hand inside Barboza’s barn, with sustainability a major theme in the process.
In an effort to save money while starting up, Barboza fabricated most of the equipment used to craft his beers himself.
“Tanks, plumbing, wiring - we did it all,” he said.
A wood gasification boiler, powered by recycled, reclaimed and cord wood is utilized to heat all the water used in the brewing process, as well as his own home just a few hundred feet away.
“Being able to be self-sufficient is huge,” Barboza said. “That’s where it’s at.”
All the spent grain from production is also sent to a cattle farmer down the road, leading to even less waste.
He built the processing line when he was a one-man show, but it is still used to sanitize and bottle the beers today. Over time, it has been fine-tuned so when four people are working, they can bottle around 90 cases of beer in under a day, averaging near 15 cases per hour.
Berkley Beer Co. continually brews four beers: Berkley IPA, Golden Ale, Coffee Porter and Harvest Ale.
Along with these mainstays, the team loves to experiment with other brews, as well as barrel-aged recipes.
A lot of planning goes into each recipe before the brewing process even begins, and Barboza says they typically get things just right on the first shot.
“Ninety-percent of the time we hit it right on the money,” Barboza said with a smile.
Barboza admits that he’s never happy with the final product because there’s almost always something that can be tweaked to make it taste a little better.
It’s all part of the fun of brewing, creating new and exciting things every time a fresh batch is produced.
Barboza hopes to expand the brewery into a city setting where there will be room for larger tanks, as well as a tap room. He says the tap room is the most important part of a brewery’s business model, allowing people to visit and tour the brewery, sample different beers and also provides space for unique events.
Food will also be an option with his idea to build a brick pizza oven to serve up fresh pizza pies to pair with certain brews. Barboza has already built a pizza oven and a smoker in his backyard that he said get plenty of use in the summer months.
Barboza plans to remain as self-sufficient and use as much renewable energy as possible. He hopes to install solar panels on the new building and use electric rather than fossil fuel.
It’ll still take some time and money navigating through the required processes, such as permitting, licensing and construction, but this self proclaimed “beer nerd” can’t wait to move his brewery into a bigger space and meet new customers.
“They don’t make it easy,” Barboza said. “But we’ll get there.”