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Beer'd Brewing Company opens long-awaited second taproom in Groton

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Groton — Beer'd Brewing Co. owners Aaren Simoncini and Precious Putnam were correct to be concerned about the capacity of their second taproom, called The Silo, for Sunday's grand opening.

By mid-afternoon the wait to get inside the 60-person-capacity taproom was more than two hours, and dozens of people milled around the outside of the facility at 225 Leonard Drive, at the end of the Airport Business Park.

But don't worry: They were being served beer.

While some sat on the sidewalk or stood in the parking lot, those who had walked under a raised garage door could still peer through the glass wall separating them and the brewhouse from the taproom.

They could see the slate-gray tables and darker gray chairs, and the main bar plus a standalone bar in the middle, and the large and colorful artwork adorning the walls. Simoncini said he wanted "something different," something "super industrial" with "clean lines."

"In Stonington, we have a very rustic design," he said of the American Velvet Mill location of the eight-year-old company. "In our industry, you see a lot of Edison bulbs and reclaimed wood and soft surfaces."

Similarly, customer Andrew Zellman commented on the "different aesthetic" from the Stonington location — and on how he didn't think he saw a male employee without a beard.

He was there Sunday with five friends, all in their 20s and 30s, and Ben Goclano said they were still not able to get inside after precisely one hour and 25 minutes. But they all started with Kittens & Canoes, an American Pale Ale, and proceeded to have other beers.

Wearing a tiara, Gales Ferry resident Melanie Cipher was celebrating her 40th birthday at Beer'd with her husband and brother.

Friends Katie Pollard, Keith Buttermore and Andrea Scott have never been to the Stonington location but have had Beer'd brews elsewhere and have gone to most other breweries in the area. They arrived Sunday with food from Chester's Barbecue in Groton.

"I think a lot of people inside are camping out. They waited so long," Buttermore commented from the brewhouse.

He pointed out that Pollard should've instead given her maiden name: Beers.

A plan three years in the making comes to life

Simoncini said the idea for a second location came from needing to make a lot more beer. He and Putnam, his wife, would've done that in Stonington except they couldn't find much commercial property with the utility services he needed. 

Meanwhile, Mystic Cheese Co. owner Brian Civitello was looking for places to expand, and the business owners kept running into each other and discussing the same struggles. So they decided to build a facility in the Airport Business Park.

Simoncini is excited to be closer to Electric Boat, and Putnam said people who live in Groton don't want to drive all the way to Stonington Borough and back after they've just gotten out of work.

Beer'd and Mystic Cheese originally planned to open in the summer of 2018 but encountered delays with construction and financing. Beer'd began production at the facility in October 2018, and Mystic Cheese opened last March.

Putnam said a lot of people didn't realize Beer'd had already been brewing there for a while. Simoncini said expanding production to Groton allowed Beer'd to grow production from 3,100 barrels in 2018 to 6,500 in 2019.

With Mystic Cheese next door, Beer'd customers can order grilled cheese or cheese and meat boards from the cheese shop's app and have it delivered.

The hours at the new Beer'd location are 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 2 to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Simoncini wanted to make the Groton location more of a bar scene, and as such, patrons have to be 21 or older. The new taproom has cans and 24 draft lines but no growlers, along with wine from Jonathan Edwards Winery and Saltwater Farm Vineyard.

Simoncini said he is trying to offer non-alcoholic craft beer from the Stratford-based Athletic Brewing Co., noting that a lot of people are "sober curious" or trying out a "dry January."

Whereas his Stonington location requires a 15-barrel minimum for brewing at one time, Simoncini said, Beer'd bought a one-barrel brewhouse to install in Groton for experimental purposes.

Putnam said the next large purchase is a canning line for the Groton facility, which will enable brewers to can on any day. Beer'd currently works with a company that comes in twice a week, which Putnam said has created a bottleneck.

Beer'd has grown over the years from Simoncini and Putnam to a staff of 32, and has clearly grown well-known enough to have no publicity issues opening a taproom tucked away in an industrial park.

"If you brew it, they will come," Simoncini said two days before the grand opening. He paused. "As long as it's good."

e.moser@theday.com

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