Greg Caucci and his business partner Bruce Staebler did not initially envision opening a brewery with a large taproom. But when they saw the sprawling factory space in the Milldale section of Southington, everything changed.
The factory had previously been the home of the Clark Brothers Bolt Co. factory, a major supplier of carriage bolts. Today, the building sits alongside the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, a paved walking trail running from New Haven to Massachusetts. Caucci and Staebler could feel the history of the place and saw great potential. They decided to supersize their ambitions.
Instead of a small brewery with a small brewing system, they opened a sprawling, 12,000-square-foot brewery and beer hall in 2017 that would eventually have an in-house pizzeria.
“The name Kinsmen comes from brotherhood, family, kinship,” Caucci says. “It’s what we were trying to create when we found the space. Almost like an extension of your home.”
Today, Kinsmen Brewing Co. is filled with the familiar exposed brick and wood, communal tables and barrels found at other breweries, but the “V”-shaped ceiling and the rectangular nature of the room with the bar at one end and a stone fireplace at the other give it a much more medieval feel. It reminds some guests, Caucci says, of the hall where the infamous Red Wedding was held on Game of Thrones, minus the disturbing bloodshed, of course.
When Caucci and Staebler’s ambitions for the space grew, so did their ambition for the beer. Rather than rely on their homebrewing skills, they hired Bob Bartholomew, a Connecticut native who had made a name for himself as a brewer in Maine at the Banded Brewing Co. (formerly Banded Horn). Bartholomew was looking to move back to Connecticut and wanted to create contemporary, innovative beers.
“We do a lot of experimentation, so we have a lot of very funky things as far as beer styles go,” he says about Kinsmen’s beer. “We generally try to keep it as modern as we can.”
Even when they do a traditional style, they add innovation into the mix. A recent Scottish ale was flavored with toasted marshmallows. The brewery also has 40 barrels for aging sour beers and other styles. The brewery’s first barrel-aged beers were released earlier this summer.
During my visit, the Caribbean Queen, a mango coconut smoothie IPA, is just as good and thankfully not nearly as sweet as its name implies. While the Yup/Nope Double IPA, one of the brewery’s most popular beers and a New England-style IPA, had too thick (hazy) a body for my liking, I’ve enjoyed this beer in the past, so it might have just been this batch.
Accompanied by a bar with a full assortment of liquor, the brewery is also home to the in-house pizzeria Sauced. Though a separate company, you order your pizza at the bar and a server brings you your food. The presence of this solid pizza and the brewery’s proximity to the rail trail add to Kinsmen’s appeal as a destination. It will also soon be a major venue for weddings: As of this writing, the brewery was preparing to open an additional 300-person capacity catering hall adjacent to the existing brewery and taproom. Thankfully, this hall’s appearance bears less resemblance to the Red Wedding hall from Game of Thrones.