Fairfield Craft Ales brewery reaches $15,000 crowdfunding goal

Fairfield Craft Ales, a music-inspired nanobrewery under construction on Honeyspot Road in Stratford, has raised $15,000 toward its startup costs through a campaign on the popular crowdfunding site, Kickstarter (kickstarter.com/projects/1740197116/fairfield-craft-ales). The 30-day campaign was launched on March 10 and took 19 days to reach its target. Under Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing rules, the brewery wouldn’t have received any of its supporters’ funds if the goal hadn’t been met.

Fairfield Craft Ales is owned by Fairfield residents Mike Borruso and Joe Bow. They’re starting the brewery with a three-barrel brewing system, which places it among the smallest in Connecticut. They plan to expand as quickly as possible, but they are opening on a tight budget and need to start generating revenue to fund the expansion.

The brewery will have a taproom where people can come in, sit, and have a pint, and/or get a growler filled to take home. There will be eight taps behind the bar, three to five of which will be year-round, flagship beers. Bow says, “We have a few beers we think can qualify as flagships, but we want to follow our customers’ tastes. If they like something a lot, we’ll make more of it.” The remaining taps will rotate continually through seasonal and specialty-ingredient brews. The brewery will also self-distribute kegs to local bars and restaurants, including craft-beer-friendly hot spots in Stratford, Bridgeport, Fairfield, and Westport.

As for being music-inspired, Borruso says, “We think that naming our products after songs we love makes things more fun and interesting. In some cases, we’re choosing a song for a beer name based on mood or feeling, but in others we’re using something about the song to actually formulate the recipe.” He cites as examples Peace Frog (a pale ale with blood orange and palm sugar inspired by the song of that name by The Doors), Strange Brew (a cream stout), Rock You Like a Hurricane (a peat-smoked porter with Scorpion peppers), and Sugar Magnolia (a pale ale with magnolia oolong tea).

The brewery kept with this music theme for its Kickstarter video. In it, Borruso and Bow are dressed as blues musicians singing an original song about their project. Parts were shot at the brewery’s Honeyspot Road location, so viewers can see how the space is coming along. Borruso and Bow collaborated with their friend and neighbor, Steve Lackey, who is a professional video producer. The three worked together to write the song and conceptualize the shots for the video. “When Steve first suggested a music video, I was a little nervous,” says Borruso, “but his vision, direction, professionalism, and—most importantly—sense of humor, helped us make something we’re really proud of. We had a lot of laughs doing it.” The video ends with some outtakes that give a sense of how much fun their shoots were.

Borruso and Bow are avid, award-winning home brewers who met when Bow was coaching both their sons in youth baseball. They started talking about brewing when they ran into each other on their Metro North commute to New York City, and hatched a plan to start a brewery in the summer of 2014. That began an extensive search for properties throughout Fairfield county, and a little bit in New Haven. They looked at buildings in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Milford, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull, and Westport. “We probably saw more than two dozen spaces,” says Bow, “and every time we thought ‘this is the one,’ some problem would come up, like the zoning wasn’t right, there wasn’t enough parking, or the landlord just didn’t want a brewery.”

But in the fall of 2015, everything came together and they signed a lease for 724 Honeyspot Road in Stratford. Borruso says, “This space really has everything we were looking for — the right size and layout located in a diverse and creative community, not to mention a thriving craft beer culture created by our neighbors up the street at Two Roads Brewing Company. Stratford has it all, as far as we’re concerned.”

Since signing the lease, Borruso and Bow have invested more than $100,000 of their own money into the project and are hard at work acquiring equipment and building the brewery and tap room. Almost all the equipment needed is already in the space and construction is almost complete. Borruso and Bow plan to get their equipment hooked up by mid-April. But even assuming all that gets done on time, they can’t start brewing without government approval.

“To quote Tom Petty, ‘the waiting is the hardest part,’” said Borruso, who notes that they filed for their federal brewer’s permit in October. “We’re hoping to get our approval in early April, start brewing immediately, and open in May. Then we can start serving our beer, which is the whole point.”

In the meantime, they’re paying rent and utilities, and continue to incur startup expenses. Those expenses include professional installation fees for some pieces of equipment, brewing ingredients and supplies, barware, and merchandise for resale like T-shirts and growlers. “This Kickstarter campaign is all about getting us through this initial startup period so we can deliver the amount of beer and brewery experience that our customers deserve,” says Bow. “The best part of this whole thing will be seeing people enjoying our products.”

Fairfield residents Mike Borruso and Joe Bow.

Fairfield residents Mike Borruso and Joe Bow.

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