Published in the Hartford Courant on February 12, 2018
Here’s a little extra incentive to walk, jog or bike along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail: At the 21.3 mile marker, you’ll find craft beer.
No matter how you arrive at Southington’s Kinsmen Brewing, which sits along the trail and enjoys plenty of foot and bicycle traffic, its founders and staff want you to be part of their clan.
“Kinsmen just means community, family, kinship,” says co-founder Greg Caucci. “It’s about that brotherhood, sisterhood that we’re trying to create here, lasting relationships.”
Caucci, who has a background in actuarial science, was a home brewer and looked into opening a brewery on a smaller scale, he says. Then he saw the raw space, the former Clark Brothers Bolt Company factory in Southington’s Milldale section, and his vision changed.
“I saw a place for people to congregate,” he says. “We were going to do a small, small system initially, but then when we finally saw the space we realized we had to make it much bigger, had to readjust the whole business model. We thought if this is going to be something that was super viable, we had to hire a brewer, we had to do this all right.”
Kinsmen opened softly in April and celebrated its grand opening at the end of June, welcoming visitors to the beer-hall style taproom with ample seating. The brewery retains the building’s original rustic look, including ceiling beams and exposed brick, but with new skylights, windows, floors and light fixtures.
FEATURED/NOTEWORTHY BEERS: Head brewer Bob Bartholomewoversees the production of Kinsmen’s wide variety of beers, and visitors will usually find a few of its core selections on tap.
The 21.3, named for the brewery’s location along the trail, is Kinsmen’s house IPA with citra, mosaic and cascade hops, and they recently introduced unique fruited versions of it, with peach and tangerine. Another favorite, the Yup/Nope, is a citra-hopped double IPA. The Deckside American IPA is brewed with lemon drop, cascade and Motueka hops, and the Roast stout incorporates medium-roast Ethiopian coffee from Rebel Dog in Plainville. Caribbean Queen, a coconut mango IPA, will be released again on Valentine’s Day.
Though Kinsmen’s IPAs sell the fastest, Caucci says, its visitors appreciate the brewery’s selection of beer styles. “[IPAs are] what drives a lot of craft beer drinkers out to our place, but other people love the fact that we have a variety of beers.”
Kinsmen has recently experimented with a gruit ale, a hop-free floral brew with lemon verbena, milk thistle, heather blossoms and dandelion root, and collaborated with Skygazer, a Southington brewery in planning, to release Earthbound Misfit, a cherry lime Berliner weisse.
TASTING ROOM AMENITIES: Kinsmen’s expansive taproom has seating for about 200, and additional space in a gaming area with a pool table and televisions. The brewery is also developing an event space for weddings, fundraisers and other special occasions, and Caucci hopes to have it open by mid-summer.
Kinsmen also welcomes drinkers who may not want beer, offering cider by Wallingford’s New England Cider Company, wines by the glass, a Texas Mule vodka cocktail and even bourbon and spirits.
FOOD OPTIONS: Kinsmen has partnered with the owners of Domenic and Vinnie’s Pizza in Southington to launch Sauced, an on-site catering option at the brewery. Sauced features pizzas, salads, panini sandwiches and small plates like pretzels with beer cheese sauce and breadsticks with marinara. (No outside food is permitted at Kinsmen, with the exception of cakes or desserts for special events.)
UPCOMING EVENTS: Kinsmen’s calendar is full of live musical performances at the taproom each week, and the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s O’Shenanigans 5K on March 10 starts and finishes at the brewery, with a course through rural roads in Southington and Cheshire. Costumes are encouraged.🍺