2017-11-02 / News

New business hopes to keep ’em hoppin’

Beer enthusiasts will be buzzing about new retail store in Bomes

Will Tuttle at his Conanicut Brewing retail store in the Bomes Theatre on Narragansett Avenue. Although the store’s not yet open, he expects it to be ready for customers later this month. 
PHOTO BY ANDREAVON HOHENLEITEN Will Tuttle at his Conanicut Brewing retail store in the Bomes Theatre on Narragansett Avenue. Although the store’s not yet open, he expects it to be ready for customers later this month. PHOTO BY ANDREAVON HOHENLEITEN After nearly 18 months of renovation, the historic Bomes Theatre on Narragansett Avenue is welcoming its final tenant.

Conanicut Brewing, a supply store for home brewers and winemakers, will open its doors this month at the Roaring Twenties landmark. It will be in the office formerly occupied by Taste, the design firm that moved down the street in August 2015.

Owner Will Tuttle decided to open his business at the old movie theater because of its size and centralized location in town. Initially, the space was scheduled to be two units, but Tuttle made his plea for all 15,000 square feet. That offer was accepted. The exposed beams and skylight, he said, make it a welcoming space for retail.

“It just struck me as a perfect location,” Tuttle said. “You can’t beat being right in the middle of Narragansett Avenue.”

The store will offer equipment and ingredients for customers who want to craft their own beer and produce their own wine. Although the focus is on alcohol, the finished product will not be available in-house. Tuttle does not have — and doesn’t plan to apply for — a liquor license.

Tuttle said he will stock 50 types of yeast, 24 kinds of grains and 50 varieties of hops to complement the malt extracts, containers and cleaning chemicals. These ingredients are the backbone to creating ales and lagers, including porters, stouts, pilsners and Belgian ambers. There also will be a section devoted to winemaking supplies, such as grape concentrate.

“The layout will mimic the brewing process,” Tuttle said. “As you come in, you can follow the process from your equipment to the grains to the hops and yeast.”

Tuttle, of Seaside Drive, isn’t only the owner, but he will be a client. He is opening Conanicut Brewing because of his own interest. For the past eight years, he has been brewing in his home, culminating in nearly 120 batches of beer. Because Tuttle’s had to travel remotely to purchase his supplies, he decided to turn his hobby into a retail business so his fellow amateur brewers could acquire their ingredients locally.

“There’s a need for it,” he said “I’m trying to take advantage of the do-it-yourself culture.”

Tuttle also wanted a change in scenery. After a decade as a financial adviser, he is excited to become his own boss.

“Becoming an entrepreneur is the most appealing part,” he said.

The store will cater to experienced homebrewers and newcomers. For islanders interested in picking up the hobby, Tuttle will walk them through the process. He recommends beginners choose an ale for their first batch, because those recipes can be fermented at room temperature. Lagers, however, need to be chilled throughout the process, which can last weeks. Of the ales, he said an amber would be the ideal first choice because the recipe is fairly simple. It has fewer hops so the process is forgiving of an imperfect fermentation.

“It’s a great way to get started,” he said. “The next most common would be your stouts. After that, it’s just what beer you’d like to try.”

Tuttle plans to expand his product selection to include locally sourced ingredients. He also wants to offer non-alcoholic beverages in the future, including kombucha, which is a fermented, effervescent sweetened tea with health benefits. Finally, he is toying with the idea of teaching brewing classes.

Conanicut Brewing joins the Island Heron yoga studio, the Live & Learn business incubator and Onsite Techs, a firm that specializes in information technology, architect Lisa Carlisle, insurance agent Dan Dwyer and lawyer Kristen Maccini with offices in the Bomes.

Built in 1922 following the nation’s victory in World War I, the one-story masonry structure with the distinct commercial facade originally was a movie theater called The Palace. It was conceived from a projector that was used at the Red Cross hut at Fort Wetherill. In 1946, Samuel Bomes purchased the building.

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