Brewmasters and brewery owners from across the state are working together to start a non-profit organization that will focus on educating consumers, cross marketing the state’s growing community of craft beer producers and highlighting their locations as tourist destinations.
“We have seen an exponential increase in traffic to our brewery over the last year for our open house gatherings, tours and tastings, and private events,” said Curt Cameron, President of The Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield. “This is a testament to the growing interest in locally created products and the fantastic stories that go with each of them."
The effort to unite the state’s craft brewers comes at a time of significant growth in the local industry, with new craft breweries developing across the state, and those already established thriving despite the current economy.
“It's an exciting time in Connecticut as the CT Beer Trail is welcoming so many new craft breweries this year,” said David Wollner, owner of the Willimantic Brewing Co.
In 2011, the local craft beer industry successfully lobbied Connecticut lawmakers for formal support of the “Connecticut Brewery Trail” concept, which will connect the state's breweries and brewpubs with roadway signs to help guide residents and tourists interested in learning more about local beer.
While this effort was underway, the industry was further unified by the creation of the CT Beer Trail, an independent marketing company focused on uniting and promoting local craft beer producers and related companies while fostering an active community of area beer enthusiasts who are more than eager to support their local independent brewers.
“As the society moves toward more locally produced goods, both to promote local business and to become more environmentally friendly, the CT Brewers Guild is being formed,” said Jason McClellan, owner of the Olde Burnside Brewing Co. of East Hartford.
Small business owners like McClellan, Cameron and Wollner, are building on these efforts by joining with their peers under the umbrella of a craft brewer’s guild in the hopes of accomplishing industry goals through a unified front.
“The guild will provide our local industry with a forum to share ideas and grow our community,” said Wollner.
Wollner was recently voted in as a member of the guild’s board of directors where he serves as the guild’s vice president, alongside Cameron who serves as the guild’s president, McClellan who serves as the guild’s secretary, and fellow brew pub owner Scott Riley, owner of the Cambridge House Brew Pub of Granby, who was elected as the guild’s treasurer.
“The Connecticut craft beer industry was brought a little closer together with the formation of the CT Beer Trail,” said Riley. “To allow the Connecticut craft beer industry to work more closely together we have decided to formally create the Connecticut Brewers Guild.”
The guild is still in the process of forming but long term plans include actively reaching out to those visiting the state, cross brewery collaboration, as well as guild sponsored craft beer festivals and other educational events. The guild will work closely with the CT Beer Trail to promote the local industry while encouraging community growth and tourism across the state.
“The guild will bring the many breweries, brewpubs, homebrew shops, and retailers together to build consumer awareness for beers produced in Connecticut and the benefits of supporting those locally produced products,” said McClellan.