Skyroc Brewery and Distillery is a thriving example of Attleboro’s past and future.
This story represents the first of what we hope to be many newsletters bringing you stories about the diverse, unique people, businesses and places that make Attleboro such a great place to live and work.
City's History - A Backdrop to the Present
Some 200 plus years ago around the time of the revolutionary war, (yes, that long ago), a nascent button industry started to sprout from the carriage houses and homes in Attleboro. The enterprising craftsman in the area realized there was a booming market for fancy shirt and coat buttons - which were essential to keep the popular long overcoats of the time closed up and looking sharp. Eventually, the quality of those buttons began to signify societal status, and an entire industry blossomed. Over time those craftsmen began to make even fancier buttons, bracelets, watch chains, and rings, which in turn led to adding gold and diamonds for nearly all types of jewelry.
Soon, an entire industry emerged that placed Attleboro as the jewelry capital of the world, producing both jewelry and the manufacturing equipment that made it, and fueling the growth and wealth of this community for the next 150 years. But even as that industry largely left the area several decades ago, the same entrepreneurial spirit has not, and one needs to go no further than a short stroll down the heart of Attleboro’s old jewelry district to find it thriving at Skyroc Brewery and Distillery, the first of its kind in Attleboro history.
From Humble Home Brews to Fast Growing Brand
For those that have not yet visited Skyroc, located down the street from Attleboro Jewelers in a refurbished Balfour Jewelry factory, it is a confluence of the past, the present, and the future. Your immediate reaction to the one-level tap room at 11 Riverbank Rd. would most likely be that Skyroc is unique - a true microbrew of open space, brick walls, and wood framed glass doors that tease you with glimpses of large silver brew tanks towards the back. Behind the large wooden bar, multiple taps emerge from the wall ready to serve freshly brewed beer. Even during Covid, socially distanced customers sit at round tables, enjoying a brew with friends, family, or people that may just be there to share a story. There are no TV’s, meant to keep the experience as a place to meet, converse, and build community. Others arrive to pick up take out orders - the energy is palpable and always positive.
Off to the left of the large serving bar, a second room opens up revealing what is best described as a Willy Wonka type copper topped whiskey still, with oak barrels for aged moonshine stacked in neat rows across another wall. This is the Skyroc distillery which is nearing completion and set to open later this year. (More on that later).
In just a few years since Nate and Tracey Cinelli founded Skyroc in 2016, it has become one of the most popular destinations and brands in the area. Today, Skyroc produces more than 3,500 gallons of its own craft beers per week, distributing over 18 beer and spiked seltzer labels at their tap location, through more than 65 package stores, and an estimated 150 restaurants in the greater area.
They were kind enough to take an hour out of their very busy day to share their story with us - and what a great story to pass along to you.
“It really started about 10 years ago when Tracey gave me a home brew kit for Father’s Day. Our whole neighborhood was into home brewing, and we were always trying everyone’s new beer,” explained Nate Cinelli, who recently retired as a police officer to focus on all of the brewing and distilling at Skyroc, “and what began as a hobby in our garage and kitchen became a passion, which then evolved into a vision for success.”
“Pretty quickly, our family vacations were being planned around touring a new microbrew somewhere in New England. “ added Tracey, “We asked a lot of questions and absorbed every ounce of information we could.”
When Tracey’s corporate job was eliminated in a round of layoffs nearly six years ago, they knew that it was the time to go all in. Like many great entrepreneurs, they learned to ask the right business questions and to understand their specific market for their product vision. The pivotal moment to go full steam occurred after a particular visit to a brewery in Maine. “The product at this microbrew was not impressive, but they were already selling in four states.” Said Nate. “We knew we already had an outstanding product, and if that other brand was successful, then we could do this.”
A Family Business with a Focus on Family
Perhaps one of the most endearing elements to the Skyroc story crystalizes when Nate and Tracey talk about their work/life balance. Both made the decision from the outset that their values were family first. “We didn’t want a business so consuming that our kids resented it because we weren’t there for them.” Tracey explained. “When we started, we decided to be open to the public for 15 hours per week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and that is the schedule we keep today. It allows us to stay involved with our kids’ lives, sports, and school.”
This core value extends beyond their own family and into how they treat customers. “We want people to feel like they are family when they visit.” she added. But the limited hours for the bar doesn’t mean this isn’t a full time job. Just the opposite, as the brewing and now distilling process are running all the time even when the tap room isn’t open. If they aren’t brewing, the small group of loyal employees is canning, cleaning, and preparing for the next batch.
With all that said, family first is the mantra at Skyroc. Even the name Skyroc reflects a combination of family names. “Each of the names chosen for our products is connected to a person or to some part of the history of Attleboro.” Nate explained. Some of the many examples include its popular 14K and 24K beers, Balfour’s Brown Ale, or Bomber Seltzer. Whatever the name, both view each product that is served on sight or that is shipped to be sold elsewhere as having their name on it, and the taste has to represent the highest quality.
COMING UP NEXT...Part 2 - The secrets to Skyroc's success, and big plans for the future.
About Kelly Crowley : Kelly Crowley is a Licensed Real Estate agent for Keller Williams Realty. Kelly has lifelong ties to the area and a keen understanding of the marketplace through her personal history and extensive knowledge of the varied communities she serves.