Avon — At Hopmeadow Brewing Company, love and family come together with IPAs, stouts and lagers.
Bryan Hickey is the master brewer, his son Gabriel, 24, is assistant brewer, his daughter Olivia, 17, is the cashier and Christy, his wife of 26 years, is the entertainer, signaller and runs the taproom .
“I was pretty happy because it’s hard to get good staff,” he said of the chance to run the business with his immediate family.
Christy Hickey said: “It’s been really fun because luckily we all get along… We’ve always been a close family group.”
The family lives in Simsbury.
As well as raving about the beer, customers say the company’s family vibe adds to the cozy vibe of the brewery which opened in June 2020 at the height of the pandemic, just after reopening The establishments.
“Hopmeadow Brewery is a laid back, friendly place where Bryan, Christy, Gabe and Olivia greet you with a welcoming smile, a big hello and a great beer,” said Donna Lisevick, a regular customer. “I love the different IPAs. Point of Interest is hands down my favorite IPA, but a pint of O’Hickey’s always steals the show. Dark, sweet, never bitter and a strong, solid finish.
Last week, the company brewed its 100th batch of beer.
Longtime executive chef before turning his beer-making hobby into a career, Bryan Hickey said, “I couldn’t be happier. »
John and Sheralyn Flanders have become regulars, enjoying quiz nights on Thursdays and live music on the weekends.
“We appreciate that Hopmeadow is a true family business,” said John Flanders. “They are welcoming to their guests and show great pride in what they have all built together. Christy has warmed the walls with her unique artwork and engages people with her witty sense of humor. Bryan’s passion for brewing high quality beer is evident in every offering.
Bill Latz, who describes himself as a “beer snob”, said Hopmeadow Brewing Company is not “sterile” like some big breweries.
“It’s a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It kind of reminds me of that old Cheers TV show – people know who you are,” Latz said. “The beer is really of the highest quality. His beer is second to none.
Bryan Hickey, 49, first got into brewing in his early twenties and produced some superb batches, but there wasn’t enough time as his chef career took off and the couple, in love from high school, built his family. They also have a daughter, Izzabella, 26, who does not work at the brewery.
He took up the brewing hobby 18 years later in 2014 and found it was “a different ballgame” in terms of ingredient availability.
“I was making really good beer and brewing every weekend,” he said. “This led to the opening of a brewery. It was the next logical step.
Brewing beer, he said, is an extension of the culinary arts.
“I love making delicious things,” he said. “(Brewing) is not a job for me. It’s a passion,”
Hickey had a business plan in 2017, but couldn’t find the right location for three years. He originally wanted to open in Simsbury, where the family lives, but they needed a place with city water and sewers.
They found the perfect location at 205 Old Farms Road in a former industrial building being renovated and with the possibility of expansion that could one day include a cannery and restaurant. Currently, various food trucks visit the brewery.
The brewery has high ceilings, large windows, five stainless steel tanks and is decorated with many works of art by Christy, including a mural with images of vines and hops.
The tap room and brewery area are approximately 2,000 square feet with additional patio space outside. There are 12-15 types of draft beer at a time.
It’s such a small home brew, said Bryan Hickey, that Hopmeadow Brewing Company almost feels like a larger-scale home brew.
Sometimes they even crush the beans by hand, and Bryan compares this to cooking with love.
“It helps you put a personal touch on the beer you make,” he said.
His “employees” are happy too.
“Working with my family has been really fun. It certainly brought us all a lot closer,” Olivia Hickey said. “I met a lot of really nice and interesting people who work there and it helps me develop a career path.”
Gabriel Hickey calls the brewery his “home away from home”.
“Between brewing beer with my dad, learning to love every step of the process, pouring into beautiful glasses, and finally watching our customers’ eager eyes close as they take that first frothy sip, my only wish is to be able to welcome more,” Gabriel said. “Some of the pleasures of this life that I learned from my parents are piling up in this brewery and I am honored to be an apprentice to it all…Hopmeadow has helped me discover new parts of myself- even as well as the world around me.”
Hickey said he chose the name Hopmeadow because it is the name of a main street in Simsbury that the family walks to get to the business and is said to have a connection with hops, an essential flower in the production of beer, giving it aroma, flavor and maintaining freshness.
As Bryan Hickey recounts, the street gets its name from the fact that hops – an image on Simsbury’s town seal – were once grown there. But he said local historians cannot verify this because the earliest records were lost in a fire long ago.
“When I was thinking of a name, it seemed natural that it would fit,” he said.
Family and friends also renovated the space for the brewery.
“We created the place and the result is nice,” he said. “We put a lot of blood and sweat into the place.”
Find more information at hopmeadowbrewingcompany.com or facebook.com/hopmeadowbrewingcompany.