MERIDEN — Gary Krock checks the pot temperature before adding his bucket of grains into the mash water.
“It will convert to sugar in an hour,” Krock said. “That makes this work.”
Krock is a beer-maker following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who made a German lager and owned several businesses in the city. A year ago, Krock sought permission from the city to open Lost Tourist Brewing out of a converted mudroom in his home on Ridgewood Road.
After receiving his federal permit and city approval, the beer started flowing in January. He came up with the name Lost Tourist based on a pre-GPS vacation in Florida where he became hopelessly lost. He was reminded of that adventure when it came time to take his hobby to the next level.
“Well, I was drinking a lot of beer,” Krock said. “Someone suggested I start making it.” Faith in Meriden
Krock, who has a full-time job, can brew three one-sixth kegs in a session. His IPAs and lagers are featured at festivals and at a recent Meet the Brewer event at Maloney’s Pub on West Main Street. He recently had a tap takeover at the new Taino Prime restaurant on East Main Street and is working on a deal with the Polish Legion of American Veterans Post 189, also on East Main.
“His beer is fantastic,” said Taino’s bar manager, Murdock Snakesace. “He’s going to do very well.”
Krock describes his beer as “unique and refreshing and hop forward.” One of his short-term goals is to introduce fall lagers to more local bars. He would also eventually like to open a taproom.
“The Meriden Brewing Company had lagers and ales,” he said of a downtown brewer in the 1800s. “I want to continue in that tradition. I have faith in Meriden to revitalize.”
Krock is considering the transit-oriented district downtown, or possibly on the east side.
He expects any taproom to initially be a Friday to Sunday operation near eateries or food trucks. He also plans to retail bottles from the taproom and is glad a new law increased how much beer can be sold from breweries.
But for now, Lost Tourist is a distribution-only operation and the only one licensed in Meriden.
“People say, ‘I didn’t know we had a brewery in Meriden’” Krock said. ‘Trial and error’
As he pours a New England Summer IPA out of a spigot on the refrigerator, he talks about the many varieties of beers and the alchemy and influences: Edward Hammer Hops is a West Coast-style IPA, Pharoah’s Secret is a popular double IPA and Albert’s Ale is a “favorite beer I’ve been making since I first started,” he said.
The Alchemist, a small Vermont brewery and its flagship IPA Heady Topper, remain a strong influence.
“If you have a passion for it, you’re going to do it. Everyone I’ve met so far has helped me out,” he said.
Krock is anxious for the Powder Ridge beer and music festival on July 27 and eager to begin on the autumn lagers.
“It’s a lot of trial and error,” Krock said. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes. You’re always learning and there’s always something to learn.”
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