White Lion Brewery founder plans to open Springfield establishment

  • White Lion Brewery owner Ray Berry, center, with brewer Mike Yates in green, and their event staff, take a break during their weekly White Lion Wednesday pop-up beer garden in downtown Springfield. For The Recorder/David Rainville

For The Recorder
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

White Lion Brewery founder Ray Berry has a mission: to put Springfield on the craft-beer map.

Berry, one of the city’s liquor commissioners, said local restaurateurs have been asking for years why the state’s third-largest city doesn’t have its own brewery. He’s been scouting for a spot downtown to set up a brewery and taproom.

White Lion currently contract-brews — brewing its own recipes through other breweries.

“They’re all my recipes, but brewed with their equipment and their crew,” said brewer Mike Yates. He’s worked in several breweries and is currently head brewer for Building 8 Brewing in Florence. He said he’s looking forward to White Lion having its own brewery.

Berry hopes that day is soon.

“We hope to have an announcement this summer, and to open in the first quarter of 2018,” he said.

In the meantime, White Lion has been popping up all over Main Street, in the form of a pop-up outdoor beer garden.

White Lion Wednesday features live music, food vendors, and a selection of White Lion’s beers. They’ll run through the end of August, in three rotating locations.

“It’s been great,” he said at a recent one outside the MassLive building. “Thousands of people who work in these towers live in other towns. Usually they’ll head straight home at the end of the day.” Berry said a lot of those workers have been coming to the beer gardens and then sticking around Springfield for dinner and more.

He hopes his upcoming taproom will keep that momentum going. He’d like to partner with nearby restaurants, allowing patrons to bring take-out to the taproom or have something delivered.

Once White Lion’s brewery is set up, Berry said, the real fun will start. He’ll be able to let Yates unleash his creativity by making experimental, small-run brews that they can offer directly to the public for instant feedback. Contract-brewing doesn’t allow for small batches, meaning they’ve got to stick to sure-things for the time being.

While White Lion has released several different beers, its mainstays are its cream, pale, red and black ales.

“We’re holding off on making a traditional IPA until we have our own brewery,” Yates said. “I want to get it just right.”

At Franklin County on Tap, White Lion plans to pour its Roarange Session IPA, brewed with a hint of orange, and its Cranberry Wit.

For more information, visit: www.whitelionbrewing.com.