As an outsider looking in, the revitalization and evolution of the canal district in Holyoke have been interesting to watch.
Like most communities that relied on industrial mills in its heyday, the Paper City has been searching for its new identity for some time now and recently some innovative minds have conjured some really exciting new ideas to transform what had been a troublesome area for the city from a development and social perspective into a budding hub for culture and innovation in the region.
Well, in the near future this area, now dubbed the Holyoke Innovation District, will have its own brewery – the city’s first since Paper City Brewing shuttered its operation in the spring of 2017. Holyoke Craft Beer will be located at the STEAM Building on Race Street in close proximity to the popular Gateway City Arts and a stone’s throw from the Holyoke Canal Walk.
Owner Mike Pratt, a married father of two, told Brew England Patriot he was excited to be part of the growth.
“We are from Holyoke and we want to see our city to continue to grow,” he said. “We chose Race Street which is within the Arts and Innovation district as there are many opportunities to collaborate with other business right next door such as Gateway City Arts which is a restaurant, bar, beer garden, music and entertainment venue, which plans to have our beers on tap. There is also lots of space for expansion, for example, including a tap room. Race Street runs along one of Holyoke’s canals and is an interesting and beautiful spot downtown.”
He added, “I am very inspired about the revitalization of Holyoke and the exciting changes within the Arts and Innovation District over the last few years. I want Holyoke Craft Beer to be a part of this. My wife and I have always wanted to start a business to support the local economy and bring the community together and we think a brewery is an exciting way to do this.
Holyoke Craft Beer is starting off as a modest nano brewery with plans for expansion. In a 500-square-foot space, the 1 barrel nano will have six 1 barrel fermenters and a small retail space. A bigger brewhouse and a tap room are bigger goals for down the road, “but for now customers can go next door to Gateway City Arts as there will be at least two taps pouring Holyoke Craft Beer,” according to Pratt.
A chemical engineer by trade, Pratt said brewing beer is a “dream,” explaining that many of his professional skills translate perfectly to brewing. As an industrial water chemist, there are few better equipped for the water chemistry aspect of making beer, and through his creative prowess, he has developed and tweaked his recipes as a homebrewer for the past 10 years.
With a focus on using as many local ingredients as possible – in the interest of making the best beer and supporting other local businesses – Holyoke Craft Beer will initially feature a white ale, a pale ale, a black IPA, and a New England IPA. Pratt also plans to offer a line of local experimental brews a rotating stock of Belgian-style beers.
“The great thing about the size of this brewery is the opportunities to experiment and play around with ingredients and styles as well as providing the freshest beer possible,” he said.
Fully licensed through the TTB and ABCC, Holyoke Craft Beer has a target of opening this summer.