By Drew MacInnis
Hopothecary Ales is a local brewery located in North Reading just nine short minutes away from the Merrimack College campus. The story of this brewery is truly incredible and shows that if you are passionate about something there is no reason why you should not pursue your dreams. Opening a little over a year ago, Hopothecary Ales has quickly become a favorite spot to dine and drink by people all across the area.
After talking with Rob MacInnis, one of the investors and founders, who also happens to be a Merrimack alumni, the story of how this brewery started was revealed. The whole idea of the brewery actually started around twelve years ago when two brothers Steve and Mike Gabardi began brewing beer for fun. This quickly turned into a serious passion and they realized they needed more space to keep experimenting and brewing more beer.
According to Rob, “Steve, who is a pharmacist at Beth Israel hospital and teaches at Harvard Medical School, got the town of Wilmington to allow him to build an extension onto his house, which became his own little brew house.” With this new space, Steve and Mike purchased new equipment and were able to perfect some of the beers that they had been brewing.
Eventually after a few years with their own brew house, they got to a point where they decided that they wanted to open their own brewery. They came to the conclusion that it was time to share the beers they created with as many people as possible. After a long process of finding investors and partners, such as Rob MacInnis and others, they finally found a location that they felt was the right spot. The next step was the remodeling of the space which took well over a year, but was finally finished and Hopothecary Ales was able to open their doors to the public.
Hopothecary Ales has seen incredible success since opening and continues to see their customer base expand. When asked the question of what sets Hopothecary Ales apart from other breweries in New England Rob responded with, “our beer is excellent and I say that not even being biased, location is really important and we are right on route 28 in North Reading and there is not many breweries close to ours.” It was made clear that they did their research before choosing their location, and knew that this was something that people in the area were interested in and also passionate about.
Rob went on to talk about the different types of events and spaces that they have. For example, they have a three seasons porch and outdoor patio, which is always crowded when the weather is warm. Not only that, they have a tap room which is able to be rented out for large parties of any sort. They also host events every week, with a trivia night on Wednesdays and live music Thursday and Friday nights. As stated by Mike Dotolo a North Reading resident and returning customer to Hopothecary Ales, when asked about why he enjoys coming to the brewery he stated, “It is great to come with my buddies, but also any other night with my wife and kids as it is very family friendly. The beer is always fantastic as well as the food, and I always enjoy my time here, which is probably why I keep coming back.”
Hopothecary Ales does not simply believe in being a part of the community, they also give back to the community. Every month the brewery does a charity beer in which they donate half of the proceeds to the charity of their choice for that month. This is always advertised and made clear to the customers, which allows them to help give back while also enjoying a delicious beer brewed in house.
Hopothecary Ales also has ties to the Merrimack Community. Rob made it known that when the business was first starting, they reached out to Merrimack when looking for help with their website in terms of photo, video and communications help. Multiple Merrimack students helped with initial videos to be posted to the website, as well as photos to be used in the launch of the website and company. Not only that, there have also been employees such as servers at the brewery that are either current or former students of Merrimack College.
With the brewery having seen much success, when Rob was faced with the question of what lies ahead for Hopothecary Ales he was eager to share future plans. He stated, “we have already started looking into a second location, we are just in the process of finalizing a distribution arm of our brewery, which will allow us to distribute our beers in liquor stores.” Clearly, the brewery is looking forward to expanding its reach further than it already has and the future’s looking bright for Hopothecary Ales.
It was made clear throughout the conversation with Rob that this is a brewery founded in passion and love for beer and the local community. This idea was something that started between two brothers in a garage, and quickly snowballed into an amazing local business. Being located so close to Merrimack, it is a great spot for any student or faculty member to check out if they would like to have a delicious local beer, a great meal, and a wonderful night.