WALLINGFORD — Beer is more than just a refreshing beverage for the local brewers who are gearing up to open Center Street Brewing Co.
The Record-Journal recently stopped by the nearly complete facility on Wallace Avenue to chat with co-owner and head brewer Peter Ford as well as Jake DeGennaro, assistant brewer and director of marketing.
They discussed the science of brewing, the variety of beers and their passion for the craft.
Q: Is this your first brewery?
Ford: Yes, this is our first independent brewery. We started off like a lot of brewers have, Jake and I both started off as home brewers...decided again to go to (brewing) school, and we both brewed on equipment very similar to ours out in Portland, Oregon where we purchased our equipment as well as up in Vermont.
Q: What is brewing school?
Ford: There’s a number of schools. There’s more and more popping up around the country. A lot of the newer schools are developing through chemistry departments, so there’s both undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees and chemistry and fermentation sciences. The American Brewers Guild is one of the two oldest schools in the country.
Q: What got you into this industry?
DeGennaro: By trade we’re both nurses in kind of the science community, and brewing I think incorporates a lot of that.
Ford: I actually started my career down here as a teacher at Choate.
Q: What is the brewing process like?
Ford: We’re going to be creating all our beers here in house. We have an oversized five-barrel system with ten-barrel cellaring tanks that gives us the capacity on an annual basis to produce 1,500 barrels.
It’s taking grains from barley producers and milling them and brewing everything right here. The process with most of the beer we’ll be making will be about a two to three week process.
Q: What kinds of beer will you be making and serving?
Ford: In New England ... the IPA craze is still prevalent so we’re going to be offering a wide array of different IPAs.
We do lighter, pale ales, blonde ales, and then things kind of hit that mid-range with people who like brown ales — something that’s a little more mild.
We’ve been out to Portland, Oregon and we’ve tried to infuse a little bit of that brewing philosophy here and that is to try to keep things new and fresh.
DeGennaro: We want to have something for everybody when they come in.
Q: What has the process been like to open a brewery?
Ford: It’s been in the making here in Wallingford since early 2017, in planning for about six years altogether.
It’s a combination of a lot of years of brewing. I’ve been brewing for about 30 years. I attended the American Brewers Guild a few years ago up in Middlebury, Vermont and since that point I’ve been slowly putting together the pieces to get this up off the ground and kind of realize the dream.
Q: How did you decide on the all-wood interior and bar tops here?
DeGennaro: Our bar rail going around the outside there is actually trees that were taken down from Sleeping Giant in the tornado and the bar top is actually from northern Connecticut.
Ford: Part of it was we were sort of forced with what we had in the bones of the building, but I like to be a little creative so I think it had a great combination of an industrial feel with the beams.
Our thought was to bring in a combination of a New England barn... also a place where people feel comfortable and warm.
We thought integrating a lot of the wood and finishes kind of help to soften up and create that feeling for us.
Q: When do you plan on opening?
Ford: So we’re sort of hoping, given how our licensure process ties up, mid-February.
We’d love to be able to say we’re going to shoot for Valentine’s Day weekend and I think that’s sort of a real loose goal, but we hope people can start coming in mid-February, certainly by the beginning of March.
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