Barley Head Brewery celebrates first-year anniversary in Downtown Mystic
On Saturday, July 28, Barley Head Brewery celebrated its one-year anniversary of operations on Water Street in Mystic. Appropriately, the occasion included stout beer floats with Barley Head’s Obscurus Stout and Mystic Drawbridge vanilla ice cream. We sat down with owner and head brewer Drew Rodgers to ask him some questions about his brewing business and what makes Mystic special.
What inspired you to begin your own brewing operation?
I’ve been in the industry long time and have always wanted to start my own brewery. Often you hear a story about a brewer who quit his corporate job, but for me, I have been doing this my whole adult working life and have been angling eventually to open my own spot – now was just the time. (Drew was the head brewer at the Cottrell Brewing Company in Stonington)
What do you love about being located right here?
We’re right on Water Street, across from Sift – we get so much foot traffic here, that drives a lot of business in the summer. It’s a super-vibrant part of town, there’s a lot of foot traffic, a lot of really amazing restaurants and food – it’s nice to be a niche within that fabric.
What value are you aspiring to offer to your customers?
We just really want to make good beer that we enjoy drinking. We use a lot of locally-sourced ingredients so you get that sense of place when you drink our beer, which is important because this place is fantastic, we should draw as much as possible from it. For instance, we just started talking to Whittle’s Farm about doing a peach beer with them.
What is an emerging trend in craft brewing that you find interesting?
There are a lot of them right now – the Florida Weizens are interesting, they’re very colorful and infused with fruits – I get a lot of inspiration from that. The New England IPA’s are delicious, and very popular right now, they’re hazier and juicier, and have a different mouth-feel.
What one thing about Mystic would you tell someone who has never been here before?
One thing that’s always fascinated me about Mystic is how many artists and artisans there are here. The Mystic Seaport Museum has created this culture of making really cool things with your hands. There’s always been an artistic bent to this town – it’s one thing that makes Mystic unique among seaside towns.
I’m a huge fan of the Seaport. One of the things that they do is train people to learn skills like printing or blacksmithing – my wife’s a blacksmith, for instance. In Mystic, there are guys literally making barrels from scratch, people can learn to build their own boats out of wood here. Things like that give this place so much character, it brings Mystic an authenticity.
What do your customers tell you about why they love your business?
What I hear a lot is when they have a connection to a particular beer and they get really excited about it – when people get really excited about a beer, that makes me want to make more of it, or more beers that have those qualities.
What is one potential scenario for what Barley Head Brewery looks like five years from now?
My dream would be to have a farm brewery that works with this brewery – we want to stay small, keep using locally-sourced ingredients, serve the local community and stay creative.