Benjamin Braddock, Founder and Owner of Hog River Brewing Company is excited about opening his brewery in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood in the spring of 2016.
Watch a video about Hog River Brewing.
An Entrepreneurial Mindset from The Start
Although his background is in insurance, Braddock has always had an entrepreneurial mindset and feels fortunate that his dream was supported by his wife. “I always wanted to open a brewery,” he says. However, Braddock confesses, “I was a terrible home brewer. We did everything wrong in the beginning.”
His determination led him to read up, learn more about the technical aspects of brewing and attend brewing school at Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL.
Braddock later volunteered at Thomas Hooker Brewery to hone his brewing skills. He eventually took a part-time position at Willimantic Brewing Company where he says he learned the pub side and the production side. “This was when I began to envision opening my own place,” he recalls.
That was seven years ago. “It was a ‘now or never’ kinda moment,” Braddock notes on the Hog River Brewing website.
Startup Funding and Marketing
Hog River Brewing recently completed its Kickstarter campaign, which generated 100% of its funding in seven days, and went well over their fundraising goal. The campaign is now over and it’s been eye opening to see all the support.
Braddock says they have been marketing through word of mouth and social media. So far, Hog River Brewing Company is just Braddock and his wife, Joy. Their plan is to hire four employees and for Joy to be working at the brewery full time within a year.
Enhancing Hartford’s Parkville Neighborhood
Born and raised in Connecticut, Braddock says the goal was always to open in Hartford but the location search was difficult. After an expansive search he chose Parkville after “searching far and wide in Middletown, Southington and Unionville.” He was happy to find space at 1429 Park Street in the same building as reSET, which he notes played a critical role by helping them make contacts.
“The space at 1429 has a lot of character and history, which is what we were looking for,” he says, emphasizing that he’s glad the brewery will be located in Hartford. “We want to preserve some of Hartford’s history and bring some of the lost stories of Hartford forward again,” he added.
Hog River Brewing signed the lease for the space in April 2015. Braddock anticipates the brewery will have two units on the first floor, occupying 4,0002 ft. Hog River Brewing will have a seven-barrel capacity with 16 draught lines in total. “We’ll feature a rotating list of brews with one flagship. We’ll also have draught cider and two draught wines,” he explained.
“We want to provide options—not everyone is a beer drinker,” he adds. The goal is to have the space be a social hangout for the community, we’d like to think of it as ‘Hartford’s living room.’”
Along those lines, Braddock says they chose the Hog River name as a nod to the city. As the Hog River Brewery website explains, “Also known as the Park River, Hog River once flowed through the city of Hartford but was buried in the 1940s by the American Corps of Engineers. The river runs underground today but is visible in areas of the city. Just one piece of Hartford history we want to tell you more about over a pint.”
Looking toward the future, Braddock says a key goal is to support the community, invest back into the city of Hartford and support non-profits. “For example, we want to provide discounts for people using CTfastrak.”
Braddock says he has friends who own a brewery in Norway and eventually would like to collaborate. “We also want to collaborate with other local breweries,” he added.
Another of Braddock’s goals is to roll out the “Hartford Rare Beer Society,” which he envisions as a membership-based club with about 20 members. “Members will be invited to two private parties per year and have access to special barrel-aged beers.
“A lot of breweries that are opening are making standard, safe beers. We want to make unique beers, something different,” he emphasized. “The Hartford Rare Beer Society will provide a way for us to test new recipes including those that will be aged in barrels and soured.”
He noted that memberships to the Hartford Rare Beer Society are limited to 20 and are now available. Those who are interested should contact Hog River Brewing Company for details.
Advice for Entrepreneurs
With regard to other entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting their own business, Braddock advises them to “follow your dream. You’ll hit roadblocks, but you need to keep pushing through.”
He adds that it’s also important to have a good support system.