In the mid to late 1980’s, the firm was approached by four young men who wanted to open a brew pub in Connecticut, where they would brew beer for sale on premises in combination with the service of food and other beverages. The sale of liquor is heavily regulated in Connecticut and elsewhere, a leftover from the end of Prohibition. Liquor can only be sold pursuant to a license and no brew pub license existed at that time. So then firm partner, John “Calvo” Calvocoressi, a former State Liquor Control Commissioner, went to work to create a brew pub license in the State of Connecticut. He registered as a lobbyist and proceeded to work the legislature explaining the benefits of locally brewed craft beer to somewhat skeptical state representatives and state senators. In the end, he prevailed, and in 1989 Connecticut created its first brew pub license, which has been a part of the development of the craft brew industry in Connecticut.
Back to the four young men who hired Calvo. Once the license was created, they went forward with their plans and in 1991 the Hartford Brew Pub opened on Pearl Street in downtown Hartford, the first brew pub in the State of Connecticut. The pub enjoyed tremendous popularity for years, but eventually closed its doors. By that time, other brew pubs had sprung up all around Hartford and the state.
This interest craft beer also spawned a great increase in craft breweries. When the Hartford Brew Pub opened, there was one brewery in Connecticut: Elm City in New Haven.
Today, there are 17 breweries on the Connecticut Beer Trail, including Back East and Hooker in Bloomfield and Olde Burnside in East Hartford.
And the Hartford Brew Pub beer continues to be found locally. Phil Hopkins, one of the founders, kept the name of their signature beer, Arch Amber. It is now brewed under license from Phil, doing business as the Hartford Better Beer Company, by Shipyard Brewery in Maine. Arch Amber and its sister, Arch IPA, can be found in better package stores.
For its part, our law firm takes great pride in the small, but significant, role we played in the development of this new, great Connecticut industry. And Calvo solidified his reputation as the “Booze Baron of Connecticut.”