Day 2 of our Kickstarter campaign was another great one! We got a bunch more pledges and encouragement from our friends, and we were named a “Project We Love” by Kickstarter. Plus we painted some more of our floors (see pictures below—the flecked floor in the men’s room is what the tap room will look like) and a refrigeration pro started the work to get our walk-ins operational.
Can we reach our halfway point on Day 3? As of daybreak today, we’re only $728 away! Please spread the word. Every little bit helps!
Wow! One day into our 30-day Kickstarter campaign, and we’re already close to one-third funded. Thanks to our 45 funders and to the 348 people who took the time to watch our video. Let’s keep the momentum going. Please share widely and contribute what you can. Our most popular reward level is Welcome to the Jungle, which gets you membership in our mug club plus a hoodie, T-shirt, pint glass, and bumper sticker. It’s a great deal. Let’s do this!
We’re launching a Kickstarter campaign today to help us hit the ground running. The text of our press release, which includes a link to the campaign, is below. Please watch the music video—which we tried to make fun and entertaining—and share the campaign with friends. We’ve put together a good package of rewards, so we hope you’ll also consider donating. We have until April 9 to reach our goal. Thanks!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Stratford’s next brewery launches Kickstarter campaign
STRATFORD, Conn., March 10, 2016—Fairfield Craft Ales, a music-inspired nanobrewery under construction on Honeyspot Road in Stratford, has just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.com (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1740197116/fairfield-craft-ales) to help fund its opening. The three-barrel brewery will have a tap room where up to eight different varieties of beer will be available in pints for onsite consumption and in growlers to take home. The company’s owners, Fairfield residents Mike Borruso and Joe Bow, have already invested over $100,000 of their own money into the project and have set an initial fundraising target of $15,000 to help them cover some of the remaining expenses that will help them open right before summer. They have until April 9 to meet their target. If the campaign doesn’t attract enough donors, the brewery gets no funds from Kickstarter.
Borruso and Bow are avid, award-winning home brewers who met when Bow was coaching both their sons in youth baseball. They started talking about brewing when they ran into each other on their Metro North commute to New York City, and hatched a plan to start a brewery in the summer of 2014. That began an extensive search for properties throughout Fairfield county, and a little bit in New Haven. They looked at buildings in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Milford, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull, and Westport. “We probably saw more than two dozen spaces,” says Bow, “and every time we thought ‘this is the one,’ some problem would come up, like the zoning wasn’t right, there wasn’t enough parking, or the landlord just didn’t want a brewery.”
But in the fall of 2015, everything came together and they signed a lease for 724 Honeyspot Road in Stratford. Borruso says, “This space really has everything we were looking for—the right size and layout located in a diverse and creative community, not to mention a thriving craft beer culture created by our neighbors up the street at Two Roads Brewing Company. Stratford has it all, as far as we’re concerned.”
Since signing the lease, Fairfield Craft Ales has been hard at work acquiring equipment and building the brewery and taproom. Almost all the equipment needed is already in the space and construction is almost complete. Borruso and Bow plan to get their equipment hooked up and the space painted by the end of March. But even assuming all that gets done on time, they can’t start brewing without government approval.
“To quote Tom Petty, ‘the waiting is the hardest part,'” said Borruso, who notes that they filed for their federal brewer’s permit in October. “We’re hoping to get our approval by the end of March, start brewing in April, and open in May. Then we can start serving our beer, which is the whole point.”
In the meantime, they’re paying rent and utilities, and continue to incur startup expenses. Those expenses include professional installation fees for some pieces of equipment, brewing ingredients and supplies, barware, and merchandise for resale like T-shirts and growlers. “This Kickstarter campaign is all about getting us through this initial startup period so we can deliver the amount of beer and brewery experience that our customers deserve,” says Bow. “The best part of this whole thing will be seeing people enjoying our products.”
Fairfield Craft Ales, Inc.
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According to James Taylor, a churning urn of burning funk is what you are when you’re a cement mixer, baby. Today, we had a 14-man crew of burning funk helping us cement in the holes and trenches we had dug for our brewery’s new plumbing. It was a classic teamwork effort—as soon as the cement started pouring from the truck, a supply line started, guys assigned themselves to stations and jobs, and all the gaps got filled and smoothed over. We were completely done within a couple of hours.
Afterward, we polished off five pizzas from our neighbors at Honeyspot Pizza and killed a keg of our pale ale, Unchained. It was a perfect pairing.
We’d like to thank our great friends: Dave Broggi, Wai Cheung, Brian Creamer, Jack Day, Bill Gerber, John Kuhn, Don Purdy, Eric Rubinstein, Scott Sawyer, Jose Walewski, and Chuck Wilkerson. And an extra special thanks to Mike’s cousin, Erik Denega, who drove an hour and a half from Putnam County, New York, just to help us out.
Today we scored 15 bar stools and 8 keg couplers (the things on top of the keg through which the beer flows to the tap) for about one-third their usual price. A place in Hamden called DeMil’s on Whitney just shut its doors, and Mike went out to the live auction bright and early this morning. After winning these items in some competitive bidding, Mike called a nearby self-storage facility, rented a U-Haul cargo van, hauled the loot to our brewery space in Stratford, set the stools up at our bar and high tables to see how they’d look, and then drove the rental van back to Hamden. On the way home, he stopped for an appetizer and a beer at a place he’s always wanted to try—the renowned craft beer haven, Eli’s on Whitney. The Philly steak egg rolls went down really well with a New England Brewing Sea Hag IPA. A pretty good day.
This week, we got a bunch of our chips cashed in. Our contractors started work laying in our floor drain and new bathroom plumbing, as well as framing out our ADA-compliant bathrooms and our bar. We also scored a couple of used walk-in coolers, some bar tables, 24-oz. beer glasses, a bunch of taps for our bar, and a sink from restaurant-equipment auctioneers.
On Friday, we rented a 26′ truck and drove all day to pick up the auction winnings (in Norwich and Franklin) and some of our big equipment from Powder Hollow Brewery in Enfield. The equipment included a 10-barrel brite tank (which is where you carbonate the beer), two 10-barrel fermenters, 49 kegs, and some miscellaneous small stuff.
Joe seemed to cut or scrape a finger at every stop, and at Powder Hollow he bled on almost everything. The last picture in our photo diary below shows a spigot splashed with blood. But don’t worry about it—Joe’s fine and we’re cleaning and sanitizing everything. You’ll see in some of the pictures that we placed the tables we bought in the bar area. They really start to make it seem real.
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!