“If you need to know what your local beer is, look to your area code,” said Manuel Rodriguez, co-owner of the brand new suds company Stony Creek Beer. If you purchase a six-pack of this Branford-based IPA, which runs $8.99 -$10 locally, you’ll be choosing from the “203” or the “860” – Stony Creek Beer’s inaugural brews.
Both, details Rodriguez, are mid-field IPAs with the 860 being described as more “malty” and having a slightly smoother or harsher finish depending on whom you ask.
Hitting the shelves just three weeks ago, Stony Creek Beer is the brainchild of Rodriguez, a Short Beach resident and Peggy Crowley of Pine Orchard. Though neither is from Stony Creek, Rodriguez said they chose the name based on the desire to have a beer that really captures a local feel. Rodriguez added that a great photograph of Stony Creek helped them decide to name the beer after this small area of town. His own view of Long Island Sound and the wildlife there, he added, was the inspiration behind the heron which adorns the beer’s label.
Though the first run of the brew – all 1,100 cases – was done at Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield, Rodriguez said he and Crowley had their hopes set on opening a brewery right here in Branford.
In fact, they chose a location and paid for the site work to be done, said Rodriguez. However, he added, they were unable to see the vision become a reality in time for the company launch because the property they were eyeing ran into some environmental issues. With the possibility of still opening a brewery at the location in the future, Rodriguez declined to mention the name of the property at this time.
The hopes to have a brewery in Branford is still at the forefront of his mind said Rodriguez. “We’d very much like to build a brewery around here.”
While plans for the brewery on are on hold, Rodriguez said he and Crowley are focusing on their craft and working on getting their IPA into stores and restaurants around the state (search for locations by using their online Beer Locator).
Here in Branford, many eateries are serving the IPA including , , , and . Right now the beer is only available in bottle, but will be available on tap next month, said Rodriguez.
A 30-year veteran of the radio broadcast industry with a notable tenure as the general manager of WPLR, Rodriguez said his business background paired with Crowley’s vision for the concept is what is driving Stony Creek Beer. Born after an evening of kicking the idea around, Rodriguez said he and Crowley are now focused on growing their company and selling this new beer. An LLC since 2010, Rodriguez said this year’s goal is to sell 20,000 cases of Stony Creek Beer and 2013’s goal is to introduce some seasonal brews.
Rodriguez calls the 203 and the 860 “good starting points” to help establish the company. The beer, he said, is bolder than a Harpoon but not as strong as a Sierra Nevada Torpedo. He describes the beer: “The first taste is the bitterness, that’s from the hops. Then there’s a little citrus in the middle of the mouth, also from the hops. Finally there’s a peppery finish down back of the throat.”
In a market where there are so many other IPAs, Rodriguez said the peppery finish is what “distinguishes” Stony Creek Beer from the rest.
Some people, he added, taste “cut lawn” in the brew but in keeping with the local vibe, he said it’s more of a “sea flavor.”
Stony Creek Beer debuted with a tasting at where the “Creekers,” said Rodriguez, bought lots of his brew and the following weekend the beer was tasted at in town. Upcoming they will be attending the Brass City Brew Fest in Waterbury on Sept. 8 and the Harbor Fest in Bridgeport at Harbor Yard on Sept. 22.
Enjoying his beer, Rodriguez seems hopeful about the prospect of growing the company beyond the state and confessed that they have already purchased the trademark rights to other area codes in New England and Long Island. Looking to settle into the beer community as they grow, Rodriguez added, “We were consumers before we became manufacturers. It’s not just a beer to have, it’s a beer we’ll have with you.”