Brewing company gets OK to add tap room

Milford Point Brewing, 230 Woodmont Road, Unit 29B, Milford’s first brewery, will become its second to have a tap room, following unanimous Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) approval at its Nov. 20 meeting.

Christopher Willett received a special exception to expand a previously approved brewery to include a tap room with brewery games for entertainment.

Willett is the partner/owner of Milford Point Brewing LLC with Gerald Candido. The brewery opened April 7, 2018, had a small taste and growler-filling room, and sold its products for off-site consumption and through some local stores.

The brewery plans to open a tasting room with room for 60 patrons, using an adjacent vacant space. The space would increase from 1,100 square feet to 2,200 square feet. According to a Nov. 21 press release, the brewery expansion adds two fermenters, doubling its production capacity.

“We have been asked many times by people as to when we are going to get to this level,” said Willett.

The project requires 99 parking spaces. As part of the approval process, the board agreed to a finding of parking adequacy because the parking spaces are shared with other businesses.

The board did not have a police report available because the Police Commission canceled its Nov. 13 meeting. The board included the condition that the brewery would have to meet any requirements set by the police department.

The facility would be open Thursdays and Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Willett told the board these hours are planned so the tasting room does not conflict with hours of operation of neighboring businesses, which he said is typically weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Willett said there are no plans for a restaurant, but would possibly consider having food trucks if it had approval for them. City Planner David B. Sulkis said if the brewery had food trucks, it would have to return to the P&Z for approval. Willett said any entertainment would be inside and would be small in size, such as a guitar player.

D’Amato Investments is the owner of the three-acre parcel with four buildings located in the Industrial (ID) zone. Willett presented the board with letters of support from almost all tenants, and from D’Amato.

Public supports expansion

About 20 people attended the public hearing with five people speaking in favor. Board vice chairman Carl Moore said the board received eight additional letters in favor of the expansion. No one spoke in opposition.

Economic and Community Development Director Julie Nash spoke in favor of the proposal, saying the Economic Development Commission supports small business growth.

Nash said the Brewers Association estimates craft breweries contribute more than $718 million to the Connecticut economy each year, “employing thousands and providing a boost to tourism.” She said the Connecticut craft brewery industry has tripled in the last three years.

Phil Pappas, 670 Boston Post Road, executive director of the Connecticut Brewers Association, spoke in favor of the brewery. Pappas said the expansion would bring more profits into both the brewery and Milford, while also creating jobs, and giving customers a better experience. He said there are 83 breweries in operation across Connecticut with another 30 to 35 planned.

“This is giving Milford Point Brewery a competitive advantage to keep up with the market trends,” said Pappas.

John Sudusky of 87 Hawley Ave., spoke in favor of approval, saying, “I am one of those people that Chris mentioned who is demanding this tap room to expand.”

The P&Z approved the application for Tribus Beer at 100 Raton Drive at its Dec. 19, 2017 meeting. Tribus opened on Aug. 11 as a brewery and tap room with an outdoor biergarten and visiting food trucks.

At its June 19 meeting, the P&Z unanimously approved a brewpub and restaurant called Dockside Waterfront Biergarten and Brewery at 40 Bridgeport Ave. This facility is expected to open in spring or summer 2019.

According to the website for the Connecticut Brewers Guild, as of September 2018, there were more than 80 breweries in operation across the state with many others in the planning stages. The website lists the names of 18 breweries that plan to open, including the Dockside.

“We’re a local brewery that has always aimed to serve great-tasting craft beer to folks in Milford, and then branch out from there,” said Candido. “The support we’ve received from the community, our customers, and business and elected leaders across the city, has been humbling. We’re looking forward to embarking on this phase of growth, and most importantly, continuing to put forth a great product for our customers, the city, and beyond.”