The History of New England Brewing Co.
Although the name "New England Brewing" has existed on the walls of many breweries in the Northeast for many years, the tale of this particular New England Brewing starts in Connecticut. It was in 2001 that the New England Brewing of South Norwalk, CT sadly had to close its doors. Then head brewer, Rob Leonard, took a long and knowledgeable look at the craft beer market around him. And upon seeing that a nation wide ground-surge in small breweries was just beginning (along with the insight that he had no, discernable job skills other than brewing) Rob purchased the company name; lock, stock, and... nevermind.
A lease was signed for a building on Selden Street in Woodbridge, Connecticut in the Fall of 2002. A few months later in June of the following year a grand "tap party" was held at the first bar to ever purchase an New England Brewing keg (Delaney’s in New Haven. RIP). This was on June 4, 2003, the birthday of New England Brewing (Woo!)! Pints were raised in celebration... by the seven or eight people who happened to come by. And then it was back to the work at the brewery.
Early on it was decided that New England Brewing beers would be available in cans. And that’s where a lot of the work came in. Besides brewing the beer, canning the beer would be difficult on a few levels. First would be the task of changing a mindset that said “only bad, old man beer comes in cans”. And the other chore would be to put the fresh beer into a can, filling the cans by hand two at a time, putting the lid on the can and sealing it one can at a time, then putting a six-pack ring on a half-dozen cans, then doing that four times to get a case, then to do multiple hundreds of cases to meet the growing demand. Yeah. Labor intensive.
The Selden Street location was the short-term home to New England Brewing’s first brewery dog, Gordy; a black Lab with a less than pleasant demeanor.
Kettles continued boiling and the word slowly got out that there was a brewery in the New Haven area again. As more and more people sampled the two beers that New England Brewing offered (Atlantic Amber and Elm City Lager) and as the beer world started to change, a wider variety of beers needed to pour out of Selden Street. Arriving in 2006 to meet the thirsty folks were Sea Hag IPA and Imperial Stout Trooper. This arrival happened to coincide with the recent passing of the Growler Law in Connecticut, allowing breweries to sell their beer in jugs. So, a makeshift bar and tap system sprouted up in the brewery and people started to knock on the door wanting to fill their growlers with and take home growlers of New England Brewing love.
While at Selden Street, a new brewery dog replaced Gordy. Another black Lab, this one named Eli, sauntered in and hung out for a while. He was ridiculously relaxed and always looked guilty.
The cement block walls of Selden Street soon became too confining as new and larger fermentation tanks, an automatic canning machine (No more two-at-a-time, 8 hour, fill-by-hand marathon sessions!), and more ingredients and cans filled the converted garage to it’s capacity. When more space is needed, a move is required. So in 2013, New England Brewing packed up it’s gear and moved…..across the street….literally.
Settling into the 175 Amity Road address took a little time. The front area of the new home was gutted and remodeled to make room for a real, live, tasting room/growler station. Now there was ample space for folks to come in, grab a couple of samples of what was on tap, and pick up some growlers to go. An actual staff appeared over time and a few more hands joined in the brew house and on the administrative end as well.
More beers were introduced from this locale like Coriolis, the dozens of beers in the Fat 10-er series, Double Fuzzy, Motuekamauke, New Hay IPA, Premeditated Murder Barleywine, The Ocho, Dose, Coconut Joy Porter, Coffee Breath Stout, and Kewl Beans Coffee Oatmeal Stout- just to name a bunch. These beers were all being brewed in the new, larger brewing system that was installed in late 2014/early ’15.
The current Amity Road location is where the third New England Brewing dog resides. A German Sheppard named “Mosely”, he has a knack for sounding ferocious but being afraid of almost everything.