SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
NEW BRITAIN - When Alvarium ended its public Kickstarter campaign on Friday, the brewery had collected more than $35,300 from 221 backers to create “a laid-back communal space where all can come together and enjoy our hand-crafted beer.”
The John Downey Drive company more than doubled its original goal of $15,000.
Kickstarter campaigns solicit public money, circumventing traditional avenues of investment. Project creators set a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If that goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected.
Donations to Alvarium ranged from $20 to $5,000. Several donors became “lifetime mug club members” as memberships sold out quickly. Other donor rewards included bottle openers, a chance to brew with Alvarium and have the beer served at a party thrown in the contributor’s honor.
Some donors will also receive a 20-ounce pour on draft beers (4 ounces more than a normal pour) or 10 percent off draft pours and merchandise, custom stickers, custom T-shirts and an invitation to Alvarium’s annual Fellowship of the Hive party.
Since the Latin word for beehive is “alvarium” and New Britain’s motto is “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey,” the brewery logo depicts bees leaving and returning to a hive.
The brewery is using its Kickstarter money to build custom honeycomb lighting, barrels for aging beers, a back patio, and games including pinball machines, tabletop shuffleboard and a life-size version of the popular Jenga.
“We have a massive wraparound bar constructed of reclaimed red oak and steel I-beam,” said Michael Larson, the general operations manager. “We’ve named it the ‘10-Ton Bar’ due to its sheer weight. The bar top was constructed by former City Steam brewmaster Ron Page. We’ll have 13 taps, and the tap back splash is custom-made and backlit with LED lights.”
Alvarium will brew 220 gallons a batch. With its oversized fermenters, the brewery can easily adapt to styles that are selling and can double-batch, making twice as much product. The owners have also installed a water tank that uses less water than other breweries.
“We’re going to open with five of our own beers, cold brewed coffee served on nitro (from the tap), a guest cider and wine,” said Chris DeGasero, head brewer. “Later, we’ll fill the remaining taps with more of our own beers.”
Alvarium will serve two-pint crowlers (a fill-to-order can) rather than four-pint growlers (glass jugs).
“We believe that crowlers offer increased shelf stability, transportability, and the ability to be poured in one sitting,” said DeGasero.
The company will host a ribbon cutting with supporters and city officials in the coming weeks. All the equipment is in place, according to Alvarium principals, it’s now a matter of brewing and ironing out the final details.
The brewery will feature kielbasa from Bugnacki’s Specialty Meats of New Britain. It will also serve fresh Bavarian pretzels, host food trucks on site and encourage patrons to bring in their own food.
Parking won’t be a problem, as a large parking lot is behind the building, at 365 John Downey Drive.
The owners also hope to have the patio built in time for summer.
Alvarium beer is also available at New Britain Stadium.
“We’ve spoken with the New Britain Bees organization and they’re thrilled to feature our beer,” Bugnacki said. “We’re equally thrilled to partner with them.”
By the time the brewery opens, owners estimate they will have spent $250,000 to $500,000.
“Consumers are consistently choosing the local option over national brands, as long as the local brewery serves great beer,” Larson said. “We’re going to fill that niche.”
New Britain Economic Development Director Bill Carroll said the city has been impressed by the motivation of the brewery crew.
“Those Alvarium guys work their tails off,” Carroll said. “Their Kickstarter campaign really puts them on the map.”
For more about Alvarium and its products, visit www.alvariumbeer.com .