E-Malt. E-Malt.com News article: USA, CT: The Candlewood Brewing Co. ending its short run in New Milford next month

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E-Malt.com News article: USA, CT: The Candlewood Brewing Co. ending its short run in New Milford next month
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For a second time, a New Milford craft brew pub is shuttering in a big-box retail plaza — a location that goes against the grain for the vast majority of Connecticut beer entrepreneurs in the Land of Steady Habits, who typically choose downtown settings or commercial parks offering ample elbow room for seating and equipment, The Register Citizen reported on July 2.

The Candlewood Brewing Co. is ending its short run in New Milford next month, in a leased storefront along the busy retail district of Danbury Road and Route 7.

Founded by Pat Raffaele and David Adams, the microbrewery is being offered for sale to any interested buyers. But on their Facebook page, the proprietors have signaled their intent to close without stating a reason. The Facebook page lists hours through 9:30 p.m. for Friday and Saturday night, with a closure planned for Sunday when Candlewood Brewing is typically open in the afternoon hours.

Candlewood Brewing did not respond this week to an inquiry, with the voicemail box full for its listed telephone number on July 1.

With plenty of online accolades for Candlewood Brewing’s varieties selling for $7 a glass, is the strip-mall setting to blame?

The vast majority of the 120-plus breweries in Connecticut are located in downtown environments that are an easy walk for locals, or in commercial parks and industrial buildings with ample elbow room for equipment and vehicles. A small percentage more of destination Connecticut breweries offer picturesque settings, whether historic mills, farms or scenic pockets of towns and waterfronts.

Of breweries and brewpubs that are listed on the Connecticut Beer Trail maintained by the Connecticut Brewers Guild, one other establishment is located in a shopping-center setting — Luppoleto Brewing, opened in 2019 in the Dexter Plaza shopping center in South Windsor. On the brewery’s website, Luppoleto’s founders stated they chose the site for its proximity to local apartments and a future commuter rail station, along with easy access to and from Bradley International Airport.

Some 33,000 vehicles pass the Fairfield Plaza strip mall daily on average where Candlewood Brewing is located, according to a brokerage listing. On Facebook Candlewood Brewing generated some 1,200 followers, dozens of whom expressed sorrow at the news in posts to its page.

A short drive north of Candlewood Brewing, the Housatonic River Brewing Co. has ten times as many followers on Facebook, with its beer garden a popular summer destination for locals, situated across the river from New Milford’s historic downtown. On its own Facebook page, Housatonic Brewing asked its patrons to visit Candlewood Brewing in its final few weeks in business, posting patrons are “missing out” who had yet to try Candlewood brews.

It was the second try for a microbrewery in the Fairfield Plaza strip mall, which is anchored by a Staples store and with All Out Fitness having committed to the bookend storefront once occupied by TJMaxx. Bad Dream Brewing was the earlier entry in Candlewood Brewing storefront, with its proprietors having blamed the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown as too much to overcome. In its final week, the Candlewood Brewing menu includes an Oktoberfest dating back to its earliest days dubbed “Keeping the Dream Alive” which it titled in homage to Bad Dream Brewing.

The Beer Institute estimated that Connecticut brewers took a $170 million hit to their combined revenue in the first nine months of the pandemic in 2020. While sales rebounded in 2021 as people got vaccinated and then got out of the house, receipts nationally have been down from their 2021 levels in every month this year save March.

Whether as a result of pandemic closures or other reasons, several closed including 30 Mile Brewing in Old Saybrook, Better Half Brewing in Bristol, Cold Creek Brewery in Ellington, Cottrell Brewing in Stonington, Iron Brewing in Norwalk, Shebeen Brewing in Wolcott and Steady Habit Brewing in Haddam. But the large majority of Connecticut breweries pulled through the pandemic, some with assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and other aid.

The Small Business Administration approved Candlewood Brewing for $75,000 in assistance in June 2021 under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

02 July, 2022

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