After spending the last two years trying to get his project off the ground, Donovan Bailey is making headway with Down the Road Brewery, releasing his first commercial batch of beers this spring, and opening a local brewery and taproom.
Bailey taught himself to brew when he was just 18 years old. Soon after, creating beer from scratch became an “obsession” for the Newton resident. “Doing a ton of experimentation was key in learning to make great beer,” he says. After decades of home brewing, Bailey is ready to finally distribute his wares to the masses.
As head brewer, Bailey plans to produce batches in phases, beginning with flagship Pukwudgie Pale Ale, a sessionable American pale named after the troll-like creature of Wampanoag folklore. Phase two: a traditional German Kölsch, expected to launch in May.
“Down the Road’s brews are going to stand out as classic and timeless,” says Bailey, “I’ll be innovative with my own style, but will keep a more traditional approach in making beer,” which is something Bailey believes isn’t done by many American breweries. “The current craft beer market has a lot of beer that stands out for [its] use of unusual ingredients. Down The Road’s beer will stand out [for] just being great beer.”
Earlier this month, Bailey brewed his first commercial batch of Pukwudgie at Mercury Brewing in Ipswich. Because he doesn’t have a dedicated brewery, Bailey will be “borrowing” space from other breweries to mass-produce his suds in the short term.
Pukwudgie will hit the market by early April. The brew will be on draft at area pubs, including 51 Lincoln, Hopsters, and O’Hara’s, with six-packs available at Newton shops like Craft Beer Cellar and Marty’s. Expect more venues to come.
Within the next 10 to 12 months, Bailey plans to begin working out of his own operational brewery, large enough to continue churning out product for mass distribution while also housing a taproom with a neighborhood vibe. “The brewery-taproom is going to be a place for the community to come together to have a few samples and talk to [their] neighbor about the topics of the day,” says Bailey. There will also be brewery tours and regular events.
He is zeroing in on Brighton, an area where he spent a lot of his young adult life and one he thinks could use a spot like Down the Road to bring the neighborhood together. “There are plenty of bars and nail salons. Now [Brighton] needs a real community space,” says Bailey, who really considered the locale when conceptualizing Down the Road.
“When I was thinking about the name I wanted something that spoke to a neighborhood place,” says Bailey. “I imagined someone being asked where their favorite brewery was and responding ‘Just down the road.’”