True North Ales to offer Mill River wines

IPSWICH and ROWLEY — Although the idea might seem outrageous to a brewer, not everyone likes beer.

That’s been a problem for True North Ales when it tries to book large groups in its meeting space. “We decided if we were really going to have an events business … we really needed to start selling wine,” said Gary Rogers, who co-founded True North Ales with his son, Jake.

“We had all kinds of events where people asked if we had wine,” Gary said. The best the brewery could offer was “something that was not beer but going towards wine, which was hard seltzer.”

Now, after almost a year entangled in state bureaucracy, True North has started offering wine. It is prepared by Mill River Winery, which is all of six miles away in Rowley.

“The True North proprietary white blend is crisp and dry, produced from Washington state grapes. The True North proprietary red blend is a big, bold claret crafted from California and Washington grapes,” True North said in a statement.

“I’ve been impressed with the wine they make,” Gary said, adding that he wanted to partner with a local winery to boost both businesses.

He said the availability of wine should also boost the brewery’s day-to-day business. “We also know there are people who don’t come here, or don’t come here as often, because there is somebody in the group that doesn’t drink beer,” he said.

The wine will be sold by the glass only from a dispenser and will be officially launched at Trivia Night on February 15.

With the wine brought in and food sold by another vendor in a barbecue stand outside, the Rogers said they want to stick with their strengths.

“We know beer. We don’t know wine as well, and we don’t know the restaurant business,” Jake said. “We specialize in beer.”

Nevertheless, it won’t stop the brewers from experimenting. They have a SodaStream sitting ready to attempt sparkling wines, and Gary talked about mimosas and other mixed drinks.

“We’re starting to experiment a little bit,” Gary said. “What would a kombucha mimosa taste like? We don’t know, but we’re going to find out this week,” he laughed. “If it’s any good, we’ll offer it.”

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