Over the past few years, the number of Connecticut breweries has increased and several are poised to open up their doors and let their beer flow. From tiny breweries that could fit in a basement to a factory-sized behemoth, the market for local beer is getting more diverse every month.
To get to Firefly Hollow Brewing (137 Center St., Bristol, Conn.), you need to squeeze through a narrow driveway that’s wedged between a gritty loading dock and railroad tracks.
Eventually you come to an opening that, if you peek at the right angle, you can see the tell-tale, stainless steel brewing tanks.
Dana Bourque, a scruffy 25-year-old wearing a white bandanna, was priming a wall when I stepped in and graciously gave me a tour of the brewery, which was only about half completed.
Bourque was an employee at Brew & Wine Hobby, a homebrew and winemaking store in East Hartford, when the owners asked if he was up to the challenge of brewing for a small, local brewery. With experience brewing at Willimantic and some other breweries, Bourque was on board.
The problem? They needed money. Big surprise.
“It’s been a chaotic process,” he said, walking around tools that had accumulated around the brewery, in a space Firefly started leasing in May of 2012. “We’ve been flying by the seat of our pants.”
To raise the capital and gain a following, Firefly Hollow put out a video and started a fundraising campaign through Kickstarter, a Web site that allows businesses and individuals to raise money for their causes. The response was more generous than the brewery expected, and it allowed the partners to pay for a plumbing system and purchase equipment.
Even after the Kickstarter campaign, it’s been an “uphill battle,” Bourque said.
Regardless, Firefly writes on its website that it’s a “Pay It Forward endeavor.” For every dollar donated to start the brewery, Firefly will help lawn another business.
Firefly hopes to selling pints from its location, where it plans to open from 4-9 p.m. on Wednesdays or Thursdays to Sundays.
“It’s too early to tell when it will be open,” Bourque said. “We’ve been blowing past deadlines for a while.”
(A version of this post was originally published in the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American.)