City's first brewery since 1956 abuzz on opening day

Published on Saturday, 24 June 2017 21:40


NEW BRITAIN - The Alvarium Beer Co., the first brewery to open in New Britain in more than 60 years, was abuzz with patrons celebrating its grand opening Saturday.

The name of the brewery, at 365 John Downey Drive, is Latin for “beehive,” said Mike Larson, who owns the establishment along with Chris DeGasero and Brian Bugnacki. The name is meant as a tribute to New Britain’s motto, “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.”

It is the city’s first brewery since Cremo Brewing Co. closed in 1956.

The “hive” was certainly busy Saturday, with nearly every seat filled by customers eager to sample Nektar (an English pale ale) and other flavors in beer flights, with wood patterns resembling honeycombs.

Other customers played shuffleboard on a 12-foot-long table or enjoyed kielbasa made by Brian Bugnacki’s father, Dennis, the owner of Bugnacki’s Specialty Meats, and pretzels from Pretzel Haus of West Hartford.

“The response from the community for the opening of a small business has been overwhelming and absolutely amazing,” said Larson. “We built this place because we wanted to make a great craft beer and we wanted people to feel welcome. We used a lot of reclaimed wood from the building and low LED lighting to give it a home-like environment. We brought in a 12-foot shuffleboard table and we plan to put in an old-school pinball machine.”

Larson said Alvarium will usually have six to 10 beers on tap, including four staple beers, seasonal beers and experimental beers. In addition to India pale ales, which Larson said are very popular in the area, Alvarium also sells a German Hefeweizen beer called Trockenhopfen.

Jess Stahl and Scott Greer, of Windsor, said they supported Alvarium on its Kickstarter fundraiser webpage. The page was intended to raise $15,000 but raised $35,000 within a few hours.

“The beers are awesome,” said Stahl. “I’ve tried everything they have on tap and my favorite is the Trockenhopfen.”

“I love the beer. It’s fantastic,” said Michael Lockery, of New Britain. “It is great to have a brewery back in New Britain. On Friday nights I have no problem coming here on my way back from work.”

“It is great to have this here,” said Elliot Vallez, of Bristol. “I know everyone worked hard to get it up and running and it is good to have this in the community. The beer is great. I lived in New Britain for 10 years and I wished that they had a brewery back then. Now I mostly go to Firefly in Bristol.”

“The beer is quite tasty,” said Justin Theriault, another Bristol resident. “I will definitely recommend it.”

“They did a great job and it looks awesome inside,” said Jeremy Haas of New Britain. “I only live 10 minutes away so coming here is super convenient for me.”

“The beer is fantastic and the guys who own the place are super nice,” said Jackie Maniscalco. “I came in a few weeks ago thinking they were open and they gave us some samples. It was awesome.”

Alvarium is open Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10 pm, and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Business, General News, New Britain on Saturday, 24 June 2017 21:40. Updated: Saturday, 24 June 2017 21:43.