Niantic Public House and Brewery starts canning brews

East Lyme — Nearly a year after celebrating its opening last November, the Niantic Public House and Brewery recently added canned take-home beers to its offerings, a move that came earlier than owners Todd and Jenn Sakowski expected and signified the success of their downtown venture.

After Electric Boat asked the couple to create and can a custom brew for a party celebrating the christening of the submarine Oregon last weekend, the couple decided — after coming up with a brew and logo and finding a company to can the beer — that now was the time to continue canning beer.

“Once we had a can made, we said to each other, ‘Why not keep going?’” said Jenn, who noted canning was always part of the long-term strategy.

Now, the brewery’s first three canned brews — a collection of both citrusy IPAs and a milky stout — can be purchased in packs of four at their downtown tap room, located behind the Black Sheep, or soon, at Main Street’s Mermaid Liquors, as well as at Village Wine and Spirits, where an American IPA they created, called "Bowie’s Brau Ale," is already for sale.

‘Bowie’s Brau Ale,’ according to its description, is a “hop forward ale … loaded with calypso, huell, melon and mosaic hops,” while their “juicy” New England IPA, called "Mystery of Juiceboxin" is described as a “juice box for adults” with “big orange and peach flavors and aromas.”

Their third brew, called "Beware the Turtle," created specifically for EB’s submarine christening and named after America’s first submarine, the Turtle, is a dark Milk Stout, where “hidden in its black waters are flavors of chocolate, dark fruits and caramel.”

Additionally, the couple will soon be providing a rotating tap selection to Lillian’s Café, a restaurant also located on Main Street.

“We always say the brewery is like a family,” Jenn said. “But also, Main Street has become such a family, and it’s been so unexpected.”

“Todd and I grew up in a small town, but it didn’t feel like (Niantic),” Jenn continued, explaining the two grew up in Ledyard. “It’s exciting to open a new brewery and follow Todd’s dream, but it’s also amazing how we’ve really created such amazing connections along the way, too.”

“We didn’t expect everyone to take this on like it was their own family,” Jenn said. “But that’s what’s really happening.”

A growing business

Since opening their downtown tap room, located in the back warehouse of the former Mitchell’s grocery store and which features a 50-foot bar, the couple has managed to establish themselves as a popular downtown staple while also balancing full-time jobs and raising their 5-year-old son, John.

Todd, who works as a quality engineer at PCC Structurals in Groton, has since started working there part time to run the brewery full time. Jenn, who helps bartend and run the brewery when she can, still works full time as a compliance analyst at Electric Boat.

The couple have hired five employees to bartend and brew, one of whom, Jacob Cullers, is a New London-based artist who transformed the wall of the once barren-blue tap room into a colorful undersea adventure featuring a brightly-colored octopus, turtles and sea creatures.

“We really want that Cheers feeling, where you can come in and talk to each other,” Jenn said. “We have customers that come in and have dinner here every Thursday night. And we have customers that come in and go looking (for our son) because of some new toy they found for him.”

The brewery allows customers to bring in their own food to eat.

The couple have also added 12 more taps to the original 12 they opened with, and now offer a rotating selection of seven of their own (they originally only offered three). They also offer rotating guest taps from breweries across Connecticut and New England, so there is “something for everyone,” according to Todd.

“For example, we always try to have two taps dedicated to New England Cider, as well as two varying sours,” Jenn added. “It’s really all about variety.”

Additionally, Jenn said, she and Todd have started outsourcing some of their brewing to Overshores Brewing Co. in East Haven — “a collaborative beer space,” Todd said — allowing them to brew bigger batches totaling 465 gallons at a time, compared to the smaller, 100-gallon batches their brewery tanks can handle.

That change, Todd explained, has allowed him to make more beer for their growing crowds, while also allowing him the time and space to create and experiment with new brews, as “we never brew any batch more than once.”

“I always get excited about new processes, new hops, things like that,” Todd said. “It’s boring to make the same brew again. Even, when I love a beer, I’m still excited to see what else I can do.”

“It’s a lot of time spent staring at my phone, researching what other people are doing, all the new stuff that’s coming out, reading industry publications,” Todd said. “I just did my first milkshake IPA this week, for example — it’s a fairly new style in the industry — and we have a Raspberry Porter coming out this week.”

“It’s been such a dizzying year,” Todd said. “None of it has been processed, it’s wild. But we are having fun.”

For a full list of events as well as an up-to-date tap list, visit www.nianticpublichouse.com.

m.biekert@theday.com

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