December 18, 2017

Q&A with Ben and Joy Braddock, Hog River Brewing Co. owners

HBJ Photo | John Stearns
HBJ Photo | John Stearns
Ben and Joy Braddock opened Hog River Brewing in 2016.

Ben and Joy Braddock saw good things brewing in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood and wanted to tap into and feed the vibe, opening their craft brewery, Hog River Brewing Co., there in Aug. 2016.

"We noticed early on that the Parkville neighborhood had a pulse and it was on the verge of something special," said the couple, who began fermenting their brewery concept in 2013.

They said they wanted to help revitalize an eclectic, diverse neighborhood with myriad small businesses sharing the goal of turning Parkville into an area that supports small business, innovation and diversity.

Inside Hog River, local history is reflected in the massive machine presses that hammered parts for the first pneumatic tires manufactured for cars and bikes in the U.S., when the building housed Hartford Rubber Works, and later Pope Manufacturing Co. A machine's gear is represented in the brewery's logo.

The Braddocks have hosted events to give customers reasons beyond beer to visit, including workout classes, maker pop-up markets and beer dinners. In November, they hosted a Hartford Symphony Orchestra concert and have live music every Thursday.

Is Hartford a craft-beer city, or becoming one?

Hartford has made great strides to become more of a beer city. Connecticut's overall beer scene has exploded in the last few years, but still is behind the curve compared to the rest of the country. Breweries are finding their niche and they are all doing a great job.

What's the biggest challenge facing Hog River Brewing?

Increasing competition. There are a lot of breweries opening in Connecticut and a lot have the same business model. We decided to take a different approach to sell 99 percent of our beer direct to the consumer in our taproom. This was a risk and it is paying off.

What's one beer a newcomer should try?

We have about 12 core recipes that cycle in and out. They range in style from our award-winning Kölsch to more innovative styles such as the popular New England IPA. Our passion is classic German-style beers.

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