Craft Brewery Planned For Historic Stratford building [Connecticut Post]

April 23, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Connecticut Post on April 21, 2012.

By Brittany Lyte

STRATFORD — Inside the former U.S. Baird building on Stratford Avenue, scraps of material clutter the floors, and asbestos lingers in the walls.

But Brad Hittle sees something more.

A Greenwich native who has worked for Rolling Rock and Pabst Brewing Co., Hittle can visualize the fermentation tanks and high-speed bottling, canning and kegging equipment that he and his business partners plan to fill the mostly vacant building with. He can already taste the beer.

By autumn, he and his team plan to unveil a new craft brewery inside the 1911 building.

Two Roads Brewing Company, named after a Robert Frost poem, is expected to bring 70 jobs to the area over seven years while providing the community with a place to tour, sample and buy craft beer, Hittle said.

Two Roads intends to offer public tours culminating with a beer-tasting in the planned sampling room overlooking the brew house. Private events and outdoor festivals may also be hosted on the 6.6-acre site.

Aiding the transformation of the contaminated manufacturing warehouse into a state-of-the-art brew house is a $500,000 state grant recently awarded to the site for remediation.

Hittle and his partners — Phil Markowski and Peter Doering, both of Connecticut, and Clem Pellani, of California — say the grant, awarded to the site by the Department of Economic and Community Development, will allow them to refurbish the site simultaneously as it’s being remediated.

They credit Mayor John A. Harkins and the Stratford legislative delegation with helping them raise the funds.

“It is clear that this investment will both clean up our community and create local jobs,” said State Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-21, who supported the grant along with Reps. Laura Hoydick, R-120, Terry Backer, D-121, and Larry Miller, R-122. “This is an excellent example of what we can accomplish by working together, and I look forward to future opportunities to support economic development in our towns.”

Local politicians have also helped Two Roads gain momentum to change a state law forbidding breweries from selling pints of beer or from selling beer to patrons who decline a tour, Hittle said.

“We think we have changed that so people will have the opportunity to sample beers without being charged for the tour,” Hittle said. “And we would also be able to charge by the glass. That’s going to be great for us.”