We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. In addition to a nice holiday with our families, our big Christmas present was our building permit, which allowed us to get much more serious about our buildout. We spent a good amount of time sawing into concrete floors, jack hammering, and digging. We needed to do all this for expanded bathrooms and to install an underground pump and floor drains in the brew area, which will be invaluable once we get going. Here’s a selection of videos and photos from our wild Christmas at Fairfield Craft Ales.
We had a great time at Beer Conn at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport this weekend. We met lots of great people and got excellent feedback on our beer—we’re up to almost 100 reviews on Untappd. Some people said we had one of the longest lines in the place. The one funny thing we found out upon debuting our new banner is that it has a misprint: it says we’re located at Honeypot Road (missing the “s” in Honeyspot). This led to several Winnie the Pooh jokes. Good times. Check out our pictures.
I’ll spare you having to look at a photo, but the Frankenstein-like scar under the knuckle of my right index finger is a testament to the blood and sweat (no tears yet) going into our beer-making mission. The past two weekends have involved some back-breaking work, most of it devoted to getting that awful carpet glue off the floor. We’re pleased to report that as of Saturday, the glue is gone for good. Then we spent yesterday patching cracks and holes in the floors and walls. When that was done, I started using a razor scraper to get rid of some opaque film that was ruining the view out our windows. But I slipped, and had to get six stitches that put my knuckle in a league with Mary Shelley’s monster and the title of an Edgar Winter song.
Other things that happened in the past two weeks? We got a lot of great information at a Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream speed coaching event, bought a keg washer (see photo), started developing some ideas for brewery swag, and are gearing up to get the actual buildout done. Stay tuned!
Carpet glue is disgusting. And it has an attitude I don’t particularly care for. It’s all like, “Hey, I’m pale yellow and have ugly swishy grooves from when I was put down, and guess what? I’m not gonna come up and you’re not gonna be able to paint your brewery floors.”
And then professional flooring guys and the tool rental guy at Home Depot and our contractor’s friend are like, “Oh yeah, that carpet glue is serious, man. It’s not coming up.” But we were like, “Well, we have to try because the cheapest alternative is gonna add $10,000 to our budget.”
So we rented this floor polishing tool with diamond floor-covering removal blades when Home Depot opened at the crack of dawn today. When we left at 5pm, we’d gotten up about a third of the glue. It will take a couple more days, but that stuff’s days are numbered. Suck on that, carpet glue.
We also removed a piece of wall where our bar will go, as well as a wall from one of the bathrooms so we can make it ADA-compliant.
Tomorrow we drive a U-Haul truck to a brewery in Brooklyn to pick up 70 kegs.
Two Police-song themes in a week might be a bit much, but they’re both fitting so we don’t feel that bad. It turns out that just as we began in earnest our search for equipment, our new friends at Powder Hollow Brewery in Enfield, Connecticut, were looking to unload their original setup. They opened a little less than a year ago and are already scaling up to a 10-barrel system at year’s end. Then we’ll take their brewing system, some fermenters, and other stuff they don’t need anymore. Mike, the owner, gave us some great advice. He’s super knowledgeable and a really good brewer. We picked up a growler of his IPA. If you’re ever up in Enfield, near the Massachusetts border, we suggest you do the same. The photo shows their taproom.
Thanks to Melvin Mason of the Stratford Star for the wonderful write-up today. Check it out here.
We always knew we weren’t going to be mainstream, but we think we have to take issue with the label “peripheral” that two business school professors applied to a category of beers that includes craft beer stalwart Sierra Nevada. In their post on the HBR blog, the professors measure consumers’ perceptions of beer brands based on distinctiveness (how much it stands out) and centrality (how well-known it is).
Their aim was to demonstrate how much of the beer world AB InBev will dominate if its acquisition of SABMiller goes through. The answer is that it will own most of the beers that are well-known, both in the distinctive and nondistinctive categories. No surprise there.
What also shouldn’t be surprising, but is still striking, is that the only non-lagers in the chart they published are Guinness, Blue Moon, Newcastle, and Sierra Nevada. And Sierra is the only craft beer of the bunch.
So we’re definitely entering a category that’s a niche, and a small one at that. That’s alright. We’re comfortable with being different. But peripheral? Like we’re fringe? On the outer edge (maybe even edgy)? Yeah, we can be that. Don’t worry HBR guys. We’re cool.
We filed the paperwork for our federal brewer’s license last night. Feels good, but it’s gonna be a long haul—the latest average wait time for approval is 132 days. Sounds like a lot, but it’s only the end of February. And let’s face it, this year’s practically over. In the meantime, we’ll order our equipment and start getting the space ready. We’re raring to go.
Our thing at Fairfield Craft Ales is brewing music-inspired beers. We name every brew after a song. But look at this article in Food & Wine magazine. Some brewers are teaming up with musicians and actors for beer projects. There’s “MmmHops” by one of the guys who used to be in Hanson and there’s Hootie’s Homegrown Ale (guess who’s–or should I say hoo’s–behind that).
Listen, rock and roll guys, we’re up for this kind of arrangement. Keith Richards, you’re here in Fairfield county. How about a little Brown Sugar?