Nod Hill Brewery to toast 2nd anniversary with extended tap list, food trucks
Beer drinkers, rejoice! Nod Hill Brewery is celebrating its second anniversary of business this month, and breaking out a few specialty beers to mark the occasion.
“We’ve stashed away a few kegs that we’re going to be putting on tap next weekend,” said owner Dave Kaye.
The brewery will host a two-year anniversary part on Saturday, Oct. 26, from noon to 10 p.m. The party will include three different bands and food from the Cousins Maine lobster truck and Green Grunion burrito truck. There will also be surprise giveaways and raffles.
“We really just want to show our appreciation to the community that’s given us so much support these past two years so we’ll be offering an extended tap list that day — about 17 or 18 different beers for people to try throughout the day,” Kaye said. “We have two beers coming out for just for the event. One is a barley wine and the other is a pale. We’ll have specialty casks and $4 pours all day for people looking to sample. And of course, people can buy cans to bring home.”
Kaye said he’s proud that Nod Hill’s beers have become popular both locally and across the stateline in New York. He’s also enjoyed the fact that the brewery’s culture has made it a point of attraction to visitors and townspeople alike.
“We have anywhere from 400 to 500 people on a typical Saturday,” Kaye said. “The busiest months so far have been in the fall — September, October, November. It’s great beer drinking weather. But we’ve also been doing really great in the summers with the addition of our porch.”
As for the quality of the beer, Kaye has noticed an improvement over the last 24 months. He credits head brewer Kyle Acenowr who has been with Nod Hill since its inception.
“He’s dialed in the recipes and because of that our quality of beer is in a great place,” Kaye said. “We have a lot of different styles now and I’m really happy with our everything is tasting.”
The solar panels were a by-product of Nod Hill’s early goal of having a sustainable approach to brewing.
“Getting to be 100 percent green has been fulfilling,” Kaye said. “We really wanted to show everybody that we care about sustainability, and I’m very proud that we’re playing a positive role in terms of being an eco-friendly business here in town.”
The commercial growth — the beers can now be found in package stores in New York as well as dozens all over Connecticut — is another big highlight for Nod Hill as it enters year three.
Kaye credits sales representative Chris Greeney, who was hired this spring, for that improvement.
“He’s gotten our name out there and because of that we’ve doubled our production capacity for beer distribution,” Kaye said. “Nod Hill is now in Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties. We have 40 new draft accounts this year alone and plenty more new package store accounts thanks to all the work Chris has been doing.”
In its first year, Nod Hill brewed 700 barrels of beer — good for 31.5 gallons. In year two, it more than doubled production — to 1,600 barrels brewed from October 2018 to October 2019.
“We started with six beers on tap, now we have nine,” Kaye said. “There’s been plenty of options, and we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on what people want to taste. We have beer fans who come in to sample and buy cans but we also have others who come in for the atmosphere and the old school tap room vibe. ... It’s a very wide mix of people. The good news is everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.
Expanding the radius
Other than distribution, what’s the biggest difference between year one and year two?
“We were working out of a 25-mile radius during the first year,” Kaye said. “Nobody knew we existed. That’s totally changed. People are coming from all over now. We’ve become a destination of sorts.”
The quality of the beer is a main attraction but live music on Thursday nights and a TV-less taproom has also contributed to good word of mouth.
“We’re really proud of the live music scene here and the great talent we’ve brought in,” Kaye said. “There’s been a nice rotation on Thursday night of local talent. It’s developed into a fun tradition. ... We’ve also been offering yoga in the taproom on Sunday mornings. It’s a small class, 15 people max but it’s been building in popularity with both yogis and first time people who are just looking to try something out.”
Whether its yoga or live music, Kaye thinks of his taproom as more than just a place for people to drink beer.
“It’s about building lifestyle,” he said. “You have to be open to trying different things nowadays and offering that variety to people. ... We think of our taproom as a community gathering spot. It’s more than just somewhere to sample the newest craft beers.”
Types of beer
It’s only been two years, but some beer styles have also come and gone in terms of popularity.
“Belgian style beer was big in year one, less popular in year two,” Kaye added. “... There’s been a big swing towards lagers.”
What other kinds of beer can people find at Nod Hill?
“We’ve had 65 different brands representing around 25 different styles of beer,” Kaye said. “We’re really focused on modern, hop-drive beers. New England-style IPAs are our bread and butter, and there’s high demand for it in both our tap room and in the market.”
The brewery has also produced popular German-style lagers.
“IPAs and double IPAs is how we grew our reputation but some people now come through specifically to taste and buy our lagers,” Kaye said. “It’s been cool to see that shift. And it’s not just here, it’s something I think the whole craft beer world has been seeing.”
Nod Hill also produces a popular imperial stout called “Shadow Self” that has real coffee beans in it from a local roasting company.
“It’s really cool to be at the beginning of the process with that one and see how it’s come out,” he said. “We sampled a lot of beans to get the recipe right, and it’s been nice to see the support for it. It always sells out.”
Here come the sun
The solar panels have created a shift in beer names at Nod Hill. This year they’ve come up with beers titled “Sun Runner,” “Beam,” and “Solar Rays.”
“It’s part of our identity now,” Kaye said. “We’re trying to incorporate that solar theme into all our beers and putting it into the designs on our cans.”
The move to solar has set up community partnerships with the Woodcock Nature Center and the Redding Land Trust.
“We love giving back to those organizations, they share our environmental cause,” Kaye said, “and they’re both right up the road.”
Giving back to those nonprofits has been yet another accomplishment that Kaye takes pride in.
“I didn’t know what to expect when we started but you set yourself up for any number of things to happen,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have found a lot of like-minded people in the area. It’s been great to create those meaningful relationships. It’s mutually beneficial and a natural connection.”