NEW BRITAIN - Do good with great beer.
That was the motto Saturday afternoon when hundreds of beer enthusiasts converged on Falcon Field to support a good cause.
The Connecticut Hops for Hope Brewfest returned Saturday after a one-year break, and the event looked to be a success in its second rendition.
“It’s everything we wanted it to be, with a great crowd and great weather,” said Nikki Vinci, volunteer organizer for Hops for Hope. “The breweries brought really special beers.”
Great beer was just part of Saturday’s event, though - the beer festival aimed to raise thousands of dollars for the Smith-Magenis Syndrome Research Foundation, which funds research for a rare developmental disorder. More than 35 breweries called Falcon Field home Saturday as they poured their beers for thirsty patrons in support of SMS research.
Connecticut breweries including Fat Orange Cat, Kent Falls, New England Brewing Co., Relic Brewing and Thomas Hooker joined breweries from across the Northeast like SingleCut Beersmiths from New York and Allagash Brewing Company from Maine. New Britain’s own Alvarium Beer Company was also on hand representing the city.
“In my opinion, this is one of the top three festivals in the state,” said Relic owner and brewer Mark Sigman, who added that Hops for Hope is one of the better organized festivals he’s attended. “I absolutely love it.”
Mayor Erin Stewart and her fiancé, Domenico Mutone, attended the festival, trying some local brews in the process. Stewart said she really enjoyed Hog River’s Lords Hill Russian Imperial Stout cask, which was brewed with raspberries and vanilla bean.
“My heart will always be with Alvarium, but that cask was great,” Stewart said with a laugh.
Those wanting to taste something a little stronger felt at home at the festival, too, as Connecticut’s own Litchfield Distillery was offering samples of bourbon, vodka and gin.
The Whey Station and Smokin’ With Chris food trucks were on hand all day serving food to complement the beer.
Connecticut Hops for Hope was formed by a group of friends with a mutual love of craft beer. When Stephen Wood, a friend of the people in the group, had a child diagnosed with SMS, the group decided to raise money for research with a festival revolving around their shared interest.
“Because SMS is not a well-known disease, it doesn’t get a lot of attention,” Vinci explained to The Herald last week.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, SMS is a developmental disorder that affects many parts of the body. Symptoms include mild to moderate intellectual disability, delayed speech and language skills, distinctive facial features, sleep disturbances and behavioral problems.
In 2015, more than $31,000 was raised for the Smith-Magenis Syndrome Research Foundation in the first Connecticut Hops for Hope Brewfest. There was no Brewfest in 2016.
While organizers were still tallying a specific total, this year’s Hops for Hope raised about $35,000 for the foundation.
“We’re just ecstatic that the craft beer community is so wonderful and generous,” Vinci said.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.