A new brewery is just months away from rolling out the red carpet and opening its doors in Central Massachusetts. Construction is underway in Sturbridge at the future home of Altruist Brewing Company, which has just a few items left on its grand to-do list before it can share its beers with the neighborhood.
Husband-and-wife team Nancy and Bob Bixby are the brains behind Altruist: Nancy serves as the brewery’s business manager, and Bob is the head brewer. Along with partner and brewer Ryan LaFortune, the team has been testing beers and perfecting recipes while they attain the necessary licenses for Altruist and await the equipment installation and completion of the buildout.
“We’re full bore in construction mode, cutting up the concrete floor for the plumbing,” Nancy told Eater. Altruist is taking over a section of the building at 559 Main St. that was formerly used for storage, she said. They met with the building’s owner, who at first didn’t think there would be enough room for a brewery, but Bob pointed out the space near a loading dock on one side of the building, and they determined it would work just fine. “We just loved the building and wanted to move in there,” Nancy said.
Altruist Brewing Company was born of a longstanding dream Bob had to open a brewery. He has brewed beer on and off for 20 years, Nancy said, and after they were married four years ago, he picked it up again. Soon, the hobby turned into talk of opening a brewery.
Bob was brewing beer out of their garage and drawing the attention of their neighbors because he was producing really good beers, Nancy said. As they discussed a hypothetical future brewery, Nancy decided to draw up a business plan to see where it could go, thinking all the while that something would sideline them.
“The more we started planning, the more it started taking life,” she said. “Now it’s as much my dream as it is his.” And, now, it’s also the dream of one of their neighbors, Ryan LaFortune, who asked to help out and soon joined the Altruist team. Today they’re a few months out from opening the doors at their Sturbridge brewery.
“A major focus of our business model is a taproom,” Nancy said. In terms of layout, when visitors enter the brewery, they will walk into the taproom with the bar over to the right of the room. There will be a door that leads out to an external patio, which will eventually be used as a beer garden.
The brewery will be visible from the taproom with a half wall separating the two, and there will be space for a back office, a grain room, and for fermentation equipment. There will also be a food prep area behind the bar, and Altruist will offer soft pretzels in addition to their lineup of draft beers, starting on day one.
“It will be a taproom where you can come in and enjoy our beers and have a pretzel if you’re hungry,” Nancy said. Visitors can also bring in their own food, and there will be games, live entertainment, and other events.
The Altruist team has spent a couple years developing its opening roster of beers, Nancy said. They have gone through several iterations of each beer and continue to refine them. “We’re really happy with the lineup we have,” she said.
Part of that lineup includes an IPA called “Juiced,” which they were able to brew last spring for a Hop Head Fest hosted by their neighboring brewery, Rapscallion. Nancy said Juiced was one of the first beers to get kicked. Other beers in Altruist’s repertoire include Incognito, a black IPA with 8.2 percent ABV, a brown ale called Grubstaker, and an American pale ale called Exit 9.
Nancy said she hoped Altruist Brewing Company would become a go-to place for people before or after having dinner in town.
“We have a lot of independently owned restaurants, which is great,” Nancy said, but “afterwards there’s not a lot of options to go for a beer right now.” There are two other local breweries: Rapscallion, which is situated next to an orchard and often has live music, and Homefield Brewing, a local-focused brew pub that serves charcuterie and hosts folk-style bands.
“I think that we’ll be a good complement to that,” Nancy said.