Last weekend I toured Grey Sail Brewery of Westerly, RI.
Jen Brinton and her husband Alan are the owners of the brewery, and took on Josh LeTourneau as their head brewer shortly after purchasing the building. The brick building itself is historic- it used to house the Westerly Macaroni Manufacturing Company and was built in the late 1920s. Jen and Alan jumped on the purchase of it in 2010 when it was up for sale, after a massive flood took over Westerly. Grey Sail Brewery officially opened on 11/11/11. This year marks their two-year anniversary.
One of the things I like best about this brewery is that all of their beers, except for special, limited releases, come in cans. Jen said that cans are more environmentally friendly, but that wasn’t the main reason they chose to distribute their beer in cans. Canned beer celebrates the Ocean State, by making beer easy to bring on boats and the beach. Beer in cans has gotten huge, which I noticed a lot this summer, but to have beer exclusively in cans is still pretty unique.
I tasted the last of the summer seasonal, Hazy Day, a Belgian wit, as well as the new seasonal, Autumn Winds, a tasty Oktoberfest-style marzen. I also had their Leaning Chimney Porter, which is named for a leaning chimney inside of the brewery. Grey Sail occasionally brews special offerings, which are only brewed once, regardless of how delicious they may be (The Stargazer Imperial Stout won first place in the Strong Beer- Russian Imperial Stout category at the Great International Beer Festival).
The two all-year beers include the Flagship cream ale and the Flying Jenny Pale ale, which is named for the Genova sail on a boat, with a spelling change that pays homage to the brewery owner.
The brewery faced some legal trouble regarding their name, after receiving complaints from Oregon’s Full Sail Brewery. However, after much persistence, the case was settled and both breweries continue to exist. The name Grey Sail captures the spirit of the Ocean State, and it’s great that they were able to keep it that way.
Their beers are easily found throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island of course, and are expected to spread out through other states around the country soon.