WESTERLY — Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, which has been developing a line of craft beers since 2011, plans to add vodka and whiskey to the line of products whipped up at its Canal Street headquarters.
Jennifer Brinton, who co-owns and operates the microbrewery with her husband, Alan, discussed the small company’s plans with the town Planning Board on Tuesday. She was joined by Sergio Cherenzia, of Cherenzia & Associates, who is serving as project engineer for work at the facility that will accommodate micro-distilling of vodka and whiskey.
Plans call for connecting two existing garages to the main brewery building. The garages will remodeled and used as fermentation, distillation, and storage areas. Three small building additions totaling about 493 square feet will connect the buildings. A portion of the garage facade will be converted to glass panels designed to allow visitors to observe the equipment and distillation process, Cherenzia said. The roof line of the garages will be raised to allow for installation of the distilling equipment.
“The desire we have is to continue to exist in our current space. We are literally utilizing every inch of our building availability,” Brinton said.
The addition is not expected to increase traffic as the distilled products will be shipped out using the company’s existing network of distributors, Cherenzia said.
The distillery is the latest development in the evolution of the company. After starting brewing operations in the former Westerly Macaroni Manufacturing Co. building, Grey Sail purchased an adjoining property in 2013, which allowed for relocation of the company’s office and expansion of the brewing operation. In November 2015, Grey Sail acquired a different adjoining property and established the Grey Sail Tap Room. According to its application to the Planning Board, Grey Sail’s production and sales volume has grown tenfold since it opened.
The board unanimously approved the company’s pre-application and concept plan and issued a positive advisory opinion to the Zoning Board of Review on the company’s application to amend the existing special use permit that allowed the brewery. The proposed addition of the micro-distillery brought about the need for the amendment. The board also issued a positive advisory opinion on the company’s application to the zoning board for two lot configuration variances to the town’s zoning regulations.