The first time I visited what is now Aeronaut Brewing and Foods Hub in early 2014, it was still a vast warehouse with little more than a few brewing tanks to indicate what was to come. But the founders and early tenants could see beyond the empty space and have worked tirelessly over the last year-plus to turn it into a community where beer, food and science rule the day.
“It’s been really something,” said Aeronaut co-founder Ben Holmes (Ronn Friedlander and Dan Rassi are his partners) of watching the former Ames Envelope Company transform into a bustling brewery and space for food businesses. “We sort of started the year by leaving the space open so people would see their own ideas in it.”
And see ideas they have–from weekly trivia nights and projector parties to concerts and workshops (even the Creative Somerville Series, which I co-curate) have found a home at Aeronaut. The events nestle in alongside the brewery operations and Foods Hub tenants, which started with Something GUD, Barismo and Somerville Chocolate and will soon include Bloombrick Urban Agriculture and The Tasting Counter.
“The first year was totally dedicated to building connections,” Holmes said. “We spent the last year prototyping 150 different [beer] recipes on our pilot system in collaboration with the foods hub, farmers and our science guy.”
The result of all that experimentation is a week-long anniversary celebration planned for the week of June 15 that includes the brewery’s first foray into canning its beer. A Year With Dr. Nandu, an IPA crafted especially for the occasion, will be available in four-pack 16 oz. tallboy cans on Saturday, June 20 until they run out.
“Creativity doesn’t end at the brewery and neither does enjoyment. Creativity only begins at the brewery,” Holmes said of the decision to begin canning Aeronaut’s beers, which have thus far only been available on tap. “It’s canned adventure fuel.”
The canning project itself has been an exercise in collaboration, with Ryan Habbyshaw of Loyal Supply Co. in Union Square contributing art direction and Somerville artist Raúl Gonzalez III creating intricate illustrations that tell the story of Aeronaut’s logo (a nod to hot air balloons) and journey. Get a first look at Aeronaut’s anniversary beer cans.
“Each can is a different season with memories from the past year and vision for the next,” Holmes said.
Aeronaut will be canning the beer on-site in a quick 48-hour operation and selling all 6,000 cans (so 1,500 four-packs) out of the brewery starting at 10 a.m. on June 20 until they’re gone. In addition to the cans, Aeronaut is printing limited-edition glassware to drink the beer, which was tweaked over many months, out of once its opened.
“We’ll be at capacity all day,” Holmes said of the anniversary celebrations. So a separate line will be available for those wishing to “take their adventure to go.” And if you want to get your hands on these cans, it’s recommended that you arrive early. “When they’re gone, they’re gone,” Holmes added.
With the one-year mark approaching, Holmes reflected on what Aeronaut has built. When asked whether Aeronaut’s first year has been what he envisioned, Holmes replied, “No, how could you ever imagine this? We knew if we opened this place people would do beautiful things with it.”
“The best part without any question has been the things people grow here,” Holmes said. While every initiative hasn’t been successful and roadblocks have stymied some projects, Holmes attributes the brewery’s success to having “the energy and willingness to adapt, to be completely excited to see the next possibility after many things do not work. To not give up on making things awesome.”
Aeronaut Anniversary Celebrations
Monday, June 15: Industry Night (invite only)
Tuesday, June 16: Trivia with the Founders
Wednesday, June 17: Somerville Night with the Creative Somerville Series and a neighborhood block party
Thursday, June 18: Foods Hub Open House
Friday, June 19: Firkin Friday with a pre-release of one cask of A Year With Dr. Nandu and live music
Saturday, June 20: A Year of Dr. Nandu Release Party
Sunday, June 21: Aeronaut Beer and Formaggio Kitchen Cheese Pairing and Silent Film Comedy with Live Music by Jeff Rapsis
P.S. Check back here and on our calendar for updated information about Aeronaut’s anniversary week events at they approach.