Best in the Nest Series August 16, 2021

Diversify Your Go-To Beer Lineup with Brews from White Lion Brewing Company

With a tap list of unique beers, including the Hakuna Colada Milkshake IPA and the Black Is Beautiful Imperial Stout, White Lion Brewing Company is a Springfield craft brewery you have to try.

This post is part of Swallow Estates Group‘s Best in the Nest Series, which highlights the best local businesses in Springfield, Western Massachusetts, and the Greater Pioneer Valley region.


Reading the beer list for White Lion Brewing Company, you get the sense this team knows its impact, and also knows how to have fun. With the Black Is Beautiful Imperial Stout and the Fight the Sour Kettle Sour, for example, the team’s bent for social justice, Black pride, and community building is evident. 

Moving down the list, you find Insane Mane Red Ale, the Thunder Boom IPA, and the Hakuna Colada Milkshake IPA… now, that’s a brewery team I’d like to have a beer with!

Indeed, Founder, President, and General Manager Ray Berry has always been about developing community, embracing diversity, and doing it in style, right in downtown Springfield.

“We’re not just a brewery, we’re a community agent,” Berry says. “We have leadership that understands the importance of being a part of the conversation to make brewing a better trade.”

“From day one, we made our home in the city of Springfield,” he says. “Before we had a physical location, we did what we could to become a part of the fabric of the city, from our cityscape optic packaging to White Lion Wednesday pop-up beer gardens to volunteering and hosting special events that benefit Springfield and the immediate area.”

Since its founding in 2013, White Lion has aimed to represent Springfield, with or without a physical location, and it has done so valiantly. But 2021 is the year of the White Lion, as the brewery’s taproom is now open!


White Lion team volunteers in Springfield MA

White Lion teammates support Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the Springfield City Hall steps. (Photo courtesy White Lion)


As of June 2021, White Lion officially has a brick-and-mortar location at 1500 Main Street, on the first floor of Tower Square in downtown Springfield. There, you taste the team’s craft brews right on tap. Berry and his team pulled out all the stops for the much-anticipated grand opening, which featured local influencers, such as Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and City Councilor Tracye Whitfield, and beer royalty, Jim Koch, owner of Boston Brewing, the maker of Sam Adams beers. The grand opening was packed, with the taproom featuring more than a dozen beers on tap and a preview of foods from HighBrow kitchen partner.

On July 31st, the HighBrow kitchen opened, so now patrons can get sticky ribs, nachos, truffle fries, and a full menu of delicious options to complement White Lion’s brews. 


White Lion Brewing Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

White Lion opened its downtown Springfield taproom in June 2021. (Photo courtesy White Lion)


If you’re wondering what sets White Lion apart from other breweries, the short answer is A LOT.

First, the beers are satisfyingly unique. They have a large selection of sours, like the Passion & Peach Bellini Sour, a personal favorite at Swallow Realty. They also make plenty of IPAs, including the Casual Acquaintance Triple IPA and a selection of New England IPAs, including Dank Dreams, Roarange Juice & Haze, Endless Mosaic, Endangered, and the Cats Down Under NEIIPA.

Golden ale, red ale, pale ale, sessions, IPAs, sours—they’ve got ‘em.

Secondly, White Lion has a unique business model. It operates on the hybrid business model of having both a physical brewery/taproom and a large partner distribution program. You can find its products in your local liquor store or bar, as well as experience them in the taproom. But that’s not the end of the model—it also has a mobile unit, called Wild DandeLion, with 10 draft lines and refrigeration for special events, and it is an active distributor for other local breweries. With its mobile unit, for example, it co-hosts the Free Music Fridays Concert Series at the MGM Springfield plaza.

“The music series exposes local craft beer that may not be in the position to work with MGM,” says Berry. “But they can work with White Lion and expose themselves to 300-400 people any given Friday.”

On Thursdays, the Wild DandeLion mobile unit can be found at the Live @ 5 Concert Series, which features music artists at restaurants around the city, and again, exposes other craft brewers to event goers. The series is sponsored by the Springfield Business Improvement District.

White Lion distribution doesn’t stop at local events, though. It also distributes local brewery goods to its network of retailers. Small brewers like Arcpoint in Belchertown, Brewpracticioners in East Longmeadow, and East Coast Kombucha in Norwalk benefit from White Lion’s scale and relationships. Going forward, the team is looking at distributing other artisan beverages, beyond brews.


White Lion Brewing Company_Springfield MA

Craft beer and soul food from a team that cares about including everyone—what more could you want? (Photo courtesy White Lion)


On top of the excellent product selection and business model, the team really cares about catalyzing greater diversity in beer. It shouldn’t be a space for just “white bros,” ya know? 

Berry himself is one of just a handful of Black brewery owners in Massachusetts. Of the more than 8,300 breweries in the United States, only 60, or fewer than 1%, are Black-owned businesses. In Massachusetts, only four breweries out of more than 230 are Black-owned. White Lion is proud to be among that group, which also includes Arcpoint in Belchertown, Crue Brew in Raynham, and 67 Degrees in Franklin.

A testament to his dedication to attracting a more diverse pool of beer lovers to the industry, Berry sits on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and on the Philanthropy & Outreach Committee for the national governing body of the Brewers Association. His involvement in community organizing and philanthropic action is a continuation of his former career in the non-profit sector—at the Housing Authority, and then as long-time senior vice president and chief financial officer at United Way of Pioneer Valley. He also makes it a habit to give back in a voluntary capacity, having volunteered on the Liquor License Commission prior to starting White Lion. He currently serves as a board of trustees member at Springfield College and a committee member at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, two institutions of great local pride.

On White Lion’s downtown taproom wall, a large-scale quote offers up insights into what keeps the brewery team innovating and executing at such a high level. It reads: “The dream is the catalyst. The effort is the belief. The renaissance is the achievement.”

Berry explains: “Everything started as a dream, and that was the driving factor. Everyone came together to put in that effort and belief. The city of Springfield has dubbed itself as being part of a renaissance, and White Lion wants to be a part of that fabric, part of those moving parts. This structure, these four walls, is all of that hard work and our achievement as a collective body.”

Indeed, the team has envisioned and manifested a delightful taproom experience and lineup of beers. The next time you’re looking to try something local and lit, check out White Lion.


Ray’s Local Recommendations

Ray Berry White Lion Brewing Founder with Customers at Taproom

Ray Berry (left)—founder, president, and general manager of White Lion Brewing—laughs with taproom guests. (Photo courtesy White Lion)


Do you want to know what a cool brewer does on his free-time? Here’s your shot.

Berry rooted down in Springfield after he moved here at 17 years old for college, and later grad school. He built a community around himself and has become a fan of all that Western Massachusetts has to offer, from freshwater fishing to food and entertainment. Here are some of Berry’s top local recommendations: 


  • Freshwater fishing is a great way to relax, unwind, and chill. Berry says some of his favorite bodies of water are in Northampton, Amherst, and Wilbraham.  
  • Theordore’s Booze, Blues & BBQ has unbeatable burnt ends, smoked and cubed beef brisket points. 
  • Bar Kaya is Berry’s go-to sushi spot. “The pork belly is dope,” Berry says. And he says to try the beef megami.  
  • The Big E, the world’s only multi-state fair, is a great spot for food and people watching, Berry shares. It takes place in fall, and is scheduled for September 17 to October 3, 2021. Attend concerts, get your fill at the farmer’s market, attend the agricultural showcase, or tour Storrowton Village Museum for free. Berry suggests grabbing some fair fare, kicking back with a beer, and just taking it all in. 
  • Springfield Symphony Hall offers all kinds of entertainment, from the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and theatrical plays to touring comedians and musical acts, such as upcoming shows with Boyz II Men, Chicago, and stand-up comedian Tom Segura. 
  • Orange Theory, in East Longmeadow, is a heavy cardio circuit with tread, rowing, free weights, and more. Berry suggests hitting a 45- or 60-minute cycle around the gym to hit every aspect of cardio. 
  • SWEAT Power Yoga is Berry’s go-to for hot yoga. “Great for your mind, body, spirit,” he says. We agree!


Of course, don’t forget to hit up the White Lion Brewing taproom on Main Street while you’re out on the town! We recommend getting a flight of beer and pairing it with one of the savory dishes from HighBrow kitchen.


Find White Lion Brewing online and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Untappd.