Brewery to grow hops, build new space at Island Garden Shop

Editor’s note/full disclosure: The Island Garden Shop property borders the Portsmouth Press owner’s place of residence. 

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — A new brewery, hop fields, and walking trails could come to Bristol Ferry Road as early as fall 2019.

Ragged Island Brewing Co., currently located in the Portsmouth Business Park, 200 High Point Ave., has outgrown its current facility due to high demand. Portsmouth first and only brewery, co-owned by Matt and Katie Gray, John and Margo Almeida, and Patrick and Liz Donovan, plan to move operations to the Island Garden Shop, located at 54 Bristol Ferry Road.

“We are very excited about this opportunity and we hope you are too. Cheers!” wrote the company on the Ragged Island Facebook page recently.

The owners recently entered into a purchase and sales agreement with the Island Garden Shop’s owners, the Van Hof Land Associates. The Bristol Ferry Road building with a greenhouse and 37-acre property were previously listed for sale at a cost of nearly $1.5 million.

According to Vision Appraisal, the property’s value totals $809,900. The valuation includes $184,400 for the shop and $625,500 for the land. The entire area features the Island Garden Shop main building, which was built in 1880, and seven other smaller buildings: two shed frames, a workshop, a one-story barn with loft, a pole barn, implement shed, and double-sided structure.

Ragged Island Brewing Co.’s owners held an informational meeting for abutters Wednesday night, where they discussed future conceptual plans for the property.

According to co-owner Matt Gray, current plans include turning the Island Garden Shop into an office building for Gray’s second business, Gray Matter Marketing. The office will operate with five employees on site.

The building’s attached greenhouse will likely become a tasting room during the winter months, while Ragged Brewing will construct a new, two-story brewery building at the site of the property’s current barn. The company will also utilize some of the other buildings on the property during later phases.

Conceptual plans also include adding a new exit way for vehicles onto Bristol Ferry Road (one that previously existed on the property) and growing hops in the current farm fields.

Gray also said he would like to work with the Aquidneck Land Trust to preserve some of the wetlands on the 37 acres, imagining hiking trails someday through the property. If preserved, the area would be the only conserved land on the north side of Aquidneck Island.

Additional plans for the new brewery include possible farmers’ markets and the continuation of food truck nights. While Gray said he would entertain offers for small gatherings, such as birthday and anniversary parties, the company does not plan to host large-scale events. Hours of operation will also remain the same.

Ragged Island Brewing Co.’s next steps include appearing this fall before the town’s Zoning Board to secure appropriate permits.

Founded in 2016, Ragged Island Brewing is a one-barrel commercial brewery. John Almeida, a home brewer with more than 30 years of experience, serves as the brewmaster. The brewery is open Wednesday and Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m.; Friday, 3 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 9; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.

Martin and Marie Van Hof emigrated from Holland in the teens. After working in Ohio and Long Island, Martin and Marie came to Middletown to work at Rhode Island Nurseries.

After World War II, Martin and Marie’s three sons began Van Hof Nurseries and, while Klaas and Everett worked for Case Hoogendoorn, Bob worked as the only employee of the nursery. When the business grew large enough, Klaas and Everett joined Bob at the nursery at Bristol Ferry Road.

Island Garden Shop began officially in 1965 with Klaas. Martin, Peter, Dave, and Tom joined him soon after.

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