May the road rise up to meet you. In this case, make that Two Roads and a case to go.
Brad Hittle, a managing partner of the Two Roads Brewing Company, posted on the brewery’s website this morning that their doors will open to the public today at 3 p.m.
The brewery’s tasting room located at the former U.S. Baird factory at 1700 Stratford Avenue will be operating on a Holiday schedule until the New Year. Hours of operation, Hittle posted, are Tuesday-Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m., Friday, 3 to 8 p.m. and weekends from noon to 5 p.m.
In comments made to the Star last week, Hittle expressed enthusiasm for the brewery works that he anticipates will bring 70 new jobs to Stratford in the years ahead, and while last minute preparations for opening the tasting room were being completed, Hittle explained his vision of paradise.
“The objective was to create a special beer tasting setting where you can come and experiment with our beers and talk to our employees, who are really, really educated about the beers,” said Hittle. “Or you can just come and have fun. It’s strictly about beer and people.”
Hittle credits new legislation passed in May with making the tasting room concept a reality.
“Prior to passage of Governor Malloy’s Sunday liquor sales law, breweries were not allowed to sell beer by the pint and were only allowed to offer samples,” Hittle said. “We worked with the Town and they helped us a lot in initiating a change in Connecticut law that would make this possible.”
While the Two Roads Brewing Company tasting room won’t be serving food, Hittle has plans of allowing food trucks to service his customers in the parking lot. “Or they can just order their favorite pizza and have it delivered.”
From the top floor tasting room, guests will be offered a bird’s eye view of the entire brewery works.
“We repurposed everything. The light fixtures are the original light fixtures from the old U.S. Baird days,” Hittle said. “The bar is made from the original wood of the manufacturing floor.”
Hittle and his partners, Phil Markowksi, Peter Doering and Clem Pellani wanted to pay tribute to Connecticut’s manufacturing roots, especially those of Stratford. “Stratford was really an amazing manufacturing Mecca,” Hittle said. “We actually have some 1898 machines from U.S. Baird that we will put in the tasting room as sort of museum pieces.”
As customers climb the steps toward the brewery tasting room, they will continue down a corridor that Hittle says will be filled with photographs and pieces highlighting Stratford’s manufacturing past. He dubs it the, “Made In Stratford Hallway.”
Having purchased the U.S. Baird site in March, Hittle and his partners went straight to work. They wasted no time.
“The Baird Corporation did a nice job of generally maintaining the building, but the construction required a lot of fundamental changeover,” Hittle said. “New electrical system, new plumping, new concrete floor, new heating system and boilers for the brewing process, new equipment, new parking lot, new packaging line and the walls have been restored to their original brick facing after being covered in lead-based paint.”
“We bought the building in March and our contractor was really into this project and agreed to some really quick time tables,” Hittle said. “Everybody involved has had the same approach. They’re really excited and bringing a lot of energy.”
They received a $500,000 state grant for remediation of the former manufacturing plant and Hittle points out that he and his partners were fortunate in many ways with regard to industrial cleanup. “There weren’t the sorts of problems you might associate with an old factory.” That, says Hittle, is one of the reasons they chose the Baird site in Stratford.
Hittle hopes the tasting room will take off and that people will take advantage of its ideal location, near highways and not far from the Stratford train station where customers will be able to take a bus right to the brewery’s door step. He plans on expanding the tasting room’s hours soon and suggests people check out their website at tworoadsbrewing.com for updated hours, news and events at the brewery.
Two Roads beer selection will also soon be available in local package stores too, but Hittle hopes that customers will come to the brewery in person.
“Come on in for pints, growlers, six packs to go, and Two Roads merchandise,” he posted this morning.