Brewery plans to move to Southwick

Stan Costa, of Southwick, bottles beer at the Westfield River Brewing Company last spring. (Photo by The Westfield News/Hope E. Tremblay)
Stan Costa, of Southwick, bottles beer at the Westfield River Brewing Company last spring. (Photo by The Westfield News/Hope E. Tremblay)

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Owners of the Westfield River Brewing Company are looking to expand with a move to Southwick.

Sergio Bonavita, owner of the company, is turning the former Chuck’s Steak House at 707 College Highway into his new brewing facility. “We love Westfield and we’ve been very successful here, but we recognize that building has a lot to offer,” said Bonavita. Among the changes will be a hops farm behind the building. “We have been growing a half-acre of hops for two years now.” said Bonavita. “Now we’re ready to start two acres this year.” Bonavita said that within five years they hope to have 20 acres of hops planted on land behind the facility he will lease from John Whalley. “There is a shortage of hops and this way we can control our hops supply and costs,” said Bonavita.

If the Westfield River Brewing Company does not need the entire crop, Bonavita said they will be able to sell it to local microbreweries and home brewers. Moving to the larger space will also give them the opportunity to give tours of the brewery, as well as the hops field. It also lends itself to larger events at the brewery. “We plan to offer pints and have folks come in and fill growler,” said Bonavita. “We will be able to expand our production to two to three times what it is now.

Bonavita said the new location would offer more visibility to the public and still be close to home in Westfield. Westfield River Brewing Company will still have tastings at the bar people knew and loved when it was Chuck’s.

A hearing was scheduled with the Southwick Planning Board last night but because there was a lack of a quorum, the meeting could not be held. Board Chairman Douglas Moglin said that if they do not have to re-advertise the hearing they can reschedule right away. Bonavita said both federal and state applications are ready to go and as soon as they have the hearing – and if approved – they will be sent immediately.

In addition to growing his own hops, Bonavita said he hopes to utilize other local crops in the beers including a local apple orchard for the brewery’s apple ciders and apple cider beers. The most popular product at Westfield River Brewery continues to be Charlie in the Rye, which is a rye IPA with citrus style hops that Bonavita said they will grow behind the new location. “We are about to release a honey brown,” said Bonavita. “We also have a springtime saison which uses whole apricots and peaches fermented in the beer. We have a summer ale and will be doing a strawberry blonde this year, but our Oktoberfest is our most popular seasonal brew.”

Bonavita hopes to have the new location up and running within three months of approval from the Southwick Planning Board. He said the hops fields will begin to be planted in early May and will be ready to harvest in September.

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Media Credit: The Westfield News

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