NEW BRITAIN – Alvarium is Latin for beehive, which is a home for the bee insect. Firefly is the name of an insect.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal made the connection between the two breweries’ names on Friday when he made a visit to Alvarium Beer Company in New Britain, who was working on a wine-cooler like collaboration brew expected to come out in a couple weeks, with Firefly Hollow Brewing, out of Bristol, in honor of American Craft Beer Week.
“I’m amazed at the amount of collaboration in this industry,” said Richard Blumenthal. “Not just brewing beer, but friendship.”
American Craft Beer Week is a nationwide celebration of small and independent craft brewers that provides an opportunity for craft brewers to share their creativity and passion for the beverage they love, according to Blumenthal’s office. This year’s week began on Monday and ends on Sunday.
The senator discussed the craft beer industry in Connecticut, which his office said is home to more than 65 breweries with more in the planning and construction phase. The industry supports more than $750 million in economic activity and produces over 160,000 barrels of beer a year in the state.
“We appreciate your support on the excise tax,” said Firefly Co-Owner Dana Bourque, alongside one of his main brewers, Justin Dawley, to Blumenthal. Bourque is also president of the Connecticut Brewers Guild Association. “It makes a huge difference for ability to produce more beer.”
According to Bourque, the excise tax on the amount of beer produced was lowered from $7 a barrel to $3.50 a barrel for business that made under a certain amount of barrels, about two years ago.
For his business that produces about 1,000 barrels a year, that means he’s able to reinvest about $3,500 in his business.
About 4,000 square-feet of space was added to the brewery recently, which is almost triple its 1,800 square-feet of space. Five fermentation tanks and more processing equipments is also being added with the savings.
Mike Larson, another co-owner of Alvarium, said his brewery has been able to bring a part-time sales rep and began canning operations in November. The business is also looking to expand its brew room in the fall.
“That’s where a lot of people fail to understand. You’re not taking money and putting it into the pot, you’re reinventing it,” said Blumenthal. “The problem is it was temporary. Now we have to make it permanent.”
As the two brewing companies toured the Alvarium brewery, which has its brewing vats in view of the bar and seating area, Blumenthal also said an eye needs to be kept on the major beer producers and their distribution practices.
When Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors merged in 2016, Blumenthal got a verbal agreement during senate committee hearings from the companies to not force out craft brewers from distribution chains to stifle competition.
So far the companies have remained complaint with their promise, which is key to allowing business to expand their markets and is sometimes out of state now for breweries like Two Roads Brewing Co. and Thomas Hooker Brewing Co., Blumenthal said.
“That’s one thing we’re extremely thankful in Connecticut for is our self-distribution right,” said Larson, which is what Alvarium will do. Another owner, Brian Bugnacki, will deliver their canned and keg products throughout the state and post the drop off locations on their Instagram account.
The third Alvarium Owner, Chris DeGasero, spoke to Blumenthal about the history Connecticut has with the hop industry, which is a main ingredient for brewing beer, before the crew toured the rest of the facility.
“This has a really nice feel, this space,” said Blumenthal, of the tap room, which about 80 % of was crafted by the owners with scrap steel from the city and reclaimed wood.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.