Three local entrepreneurs are working to make Bristol a part of the state’s growing craft beer industry and they're looking for your help.
Rich Loomis, Bill Collins and Dana Bourque are no strangers to the craft beer scene as they have been teaching many of the state’s would be brewmasters the finer points of making quality beer from their home brew supply shop, Brew and Wine Hobby in East Hartford for years. Now they plan on leveraging their brewing and business experience to open the Firefly Brewing Co., building on the success they’ve already achieved in the home brewing community.
“Every (beer festival) we bring our beers to the first question we usually hear is ‘Where can I buy this?’ said Collins, who works largely behind the scenes providing the business savvy needed to run both Brew and Wine Hobby and now Firefly Brewing. “Well, it's time for us to bring our passion to play and provide (the state) quality craft ales and lagers.”
The Firefly Brewing team is looking to establish their brewery and tap house within walking distance from downtown Bristol, a town poised to enter a sort of “Renaissance,” says Bourque, Firefly Brewing’s brewmaster.
“Really our goal is to establish this brewery in Bristol to help revitalize the downtown area,” said Collins.
If their plans come to fruition, Firefly Brewing will be more of a destination than a production facility. The Firefly team places emphasis on their goal of including a tap house, in their plan as a means of connecting with fellow craft beer enthusiasts.
“The goal of a tap house is to have people come in and drink your beer right there -- direct interface from producer to consumer. The feeling should be ‘I'm going to the place where they live beer; I'm going to live it for a couple hours with them.’ That's what we want,” said Loomis who runs the day-to-day operations at Brew and Wine Hobby with a focus on educating fledgling home brewers. “Bars are for getting drinks and being social. Breweries are for making beer. Tap houses are for meeting brewers and experiencing beer.”
Patrons will get the opportunity to meet entire team, including Bourque, the so called “mad scientist” of the group. This young emerging brewmaster first entered the world of professional brewing as a volunteer with the Thomas Hooker Brewing Company in Bloomfield, and later served as an apprentice brewer with the Willimantic Brewing Company where he honed his skills in one of the state’s most respected brew pubs.
“Where many of Connecticut's breweries produce a consistent line of beers, we will brew a rotating line with the intent of keeping our beers fresh and interesting for our customers,” said Bourque. “We want to harbor a unique flavor and support a creative environment for our customers.”
Firefly Brewing will take full advantage of Bourque’s brewing skills to produce a wide variety of unique offerings and seasonal beers to complement their tried and true staples which include a Vienna Lager, their Darkside Cream Ale, and a Tropical Pale Ale; all three are already fan favorites.
“Really, we have more experience teaching people how to brew than actual brew time, it happens when you do it for a living,” said Loomis. “We learn something from everyone, too. Each person shines a little light on what beer could be. We kind of wanted to bottle that experience.”
Now the team is hoping to not only learn something from their customers and fellow home brewers, but also to get them to invest and be a part of this new effort.
“This is a brewery by the people and for the people,” said Collins. “We want to get the public as involved as possible in the creation of the brewery and so we are launching a Kickstarter campaign in May.”
Kickstarter is an online funding platform for creative projects enabling new initiatives like Firefly Brewing to get funding from people just like you. Rather than taking out a loan or courting would-be large scale investors, Firefly Brewing will ask friends, family, neighbors, and fellow craft beer fans to invest smaller amounts in exchange for incentives.
Firefly Brewing’s initial financial goal is $30,000, an actual modest budget for the 7 barrel brewing capability they hope to start their new business with.
“Our goal is for the brewery to be primarily funded through this offering,” said Collins. “Each donation has a reward level, from your name on our wall of founders up to a custom run of beer made with us…”
The Firefly team is hoping their strong connections to the local craft beer and home brewing communities will help them kick start their new business.
“Opening a brewery involves a lot of physical labor and often a scary amount of money,” said Bourque. “We're looking to fans of the craft brew industry to help get this project up and running.”