NEW BRITAIN - Within less than a year the Hardware City went from having no breweries since the closing of Cremo Brewing Co. in the 1950s, to now getting ready to open its second craft beer hot spot.
Five Churches Brewing at 193 Arch St. is not set to open for another five weeks, but the Herald got a sneak peek into what’s to come.
The brewery is located on the second floor. The small lobby area on the street level will eventually be used as retail space for merchandise, and a staircase that leads up to the taproom.
At the top of the stairs, the brewery’s floor plan is open with a wood brick oven, a bar counter and plenty of room where tables will soon fill. In the rear portion is the brew area and storage.
Exposed brick, reclaimed wood, pendant lights, steel beams and exposed pipes keep with the building’s industrial past.
“We didn’t want to take away from the feeling you got a year ago when you walked up here,” Michael Barillaro, one of several business partners, said.
What makes Five Churches unique are the large windows that surround the taproom that give view to five church steeples that circle it. Each steeple is also part of their logo.
While it’s common for brewers to develop a business plan first and then scout locations, it was the opposite for Five Churches.
Philip Lemnotis, another partner, said his family owned the building since the 60s-70s and were looking to do something with the space.
“We were here already... So it was kind of a no brainer,” he said.
Lemnotis’s family has lived in New Britain since 1949 and has owned several buildings over the last few decades on Arch Street.
He said their location is perfect because of its proximity to downtown.
Although Lemnotis’s business background is in transportation, he is an avid craft beer buff and has friends in the industry.
“It’s just a passion I had and these guys share it with me,” he said about Barillaro and a third partner/headbrewer, Austin Japs.
The three were strangers before, but have bonded exponentially. Lemnotis said he met Barillaro through a mutual family friend and got on board to working together right away. They then met Japs after putting out a hunt for a headbrewer.
“We’re like brothers,” Barillaro said.
For the last 14 months, Five Churches has been working on bringing the brewery to fruition. Despite its being just two miles from Alvarium Beer Company, the trio said it works in their favor.
“It makes (New Britain) a destination,” Barillaro said.
People can make it a trip to come to New Britain and visit Five Churches Brewing then go to Alvarium Beer Company or vice versa.
Unlike other industries, the craft beer one is more like a community.
“This industry is totally different as you visit different breweries there are so many collaborations. There’s really no struggling to see who’s going to be the best, everyone helps each other be the best they can,” Lemnotis said.
Five Churches Brewing will have 12 draft lines that will serve a variety of beers made in house including IPAs, stouts and even a gluten free option that will appeal to those who aren’t typically beer drinkers. They’ll also serve thin crust pizza that will take only minutes to cook and popcorn.
“We’re gonna try to keep it simple from the start, not get too crazy and just see where things go from there,” Japs said. “We really just want a nice, comfortable atmosphere where anybody who comes here feels welcomed and really enjoys the beer and the food.”
To keep up-to-date on Five Churches progress, follow them on social media @FiveChurchesBrewing.
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or