NEW BRITAIN – With a line of patrons stretching down the street, Five Churches Brewery opened Friday with a flourish as guests tasted the craft beer in the renovated building with exposed brick and steel beams, original maple floors and a brick oven for wood-fired pizza.
“This place is right out of Chelsea or Soho in New York,” said the city’s director of Economic Development Bill Carroll minutes after patrons flooded the tap room waiting for a drink. “It’s absolutely gorgeous. How lucky are we? We’ve had two breweries open in two years after 57 years without a microbrewery.”
The building at 193Arch St. owned by the Lemontis family for decades was sitting fallow when Peter Lemontis and his children decided to transform the space into a craft brewery. In its earlier incarnations it housed car dealerships, a coat factory and a glass fabricator.
As a brewery with large windows facing Arch Street and other parts of the neighborhood giving a full few of the “five churches” its named after, the building greets guests with tables that once graced a bowling alley that have been transformed by family members into spots where people can talk and enjoy the beer and the wood fired pizza.
Head brewer Austin Japs is a partner along with Lemontis, his sons Phil and Andrew, his daughter Christina Caccioppoli, his nephew Andrew Sklavouris and Mike Barillaro. The group joins Alvarium Beer Company as one of two breweries that have opened in the city in the past several months.
“My dad’s always been in New Britain so it wasn’t super surprising that he wanted to do something in a town that has always been so good to him,” Caccioppoli said. She said the attraction to the brewery will be the “great atmosphere, family vibe, fantastic pizza and most importantly incredible beers.”
The grand opening Friday attracted city officials, residents and people from throughout the state to sample Japs’ creations which range from an IPA to a Stout and others. They’ll have 12 lines of draft beer soon and also serve wine made in a Connecticut winery.
“I think it’s quite good,” said Dave Danforth, of Clinton, who was drinking an Imperial IPA called “Steeple People.” “I heard it was opening and I heard good things. It’s a little crazy for a grand opening,” Danforth said referring to the crowd that had packed the taproom minutes after the doors opened at 12 p.m. “But it’s pretty good.”
Minutes before Mayor Erin Stewart helped cut the ribbon to the sound of cheers. “Here’s to lots of beer and lots of good times right here in downtown New Britain,” Stewart said. Five Churches brewery will be open today from 12 to 9 p.m. Next week the brewery will be open Thursday and Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 12 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.