For fans of beer, few things can come close to the enjoyability of sitting down to a tall, frosty mug of fresh brew at the end of a long day. And with the crew down at Half Full Brewery opening Stamford's — and all of Fairfield County's — only production microbrewery according to the company, the beer scene in Stamford just got a whole lot brighter.
Tucked away in a business park off Homestead Ave., Half Full Brewery began serving up their initial offering, Half Full Bright Ale, throughout the area in the beginning of August. The location managed to open its doors to the public for regular tastings and tours just in time for the end of summer.
"We have local flavor," said Jordan Giles, "Chief Beer Organizer" for the company. "We're proud to be from this community. We want people form this area to be proud this beer is from here."
The founder and "Chief Beer Philosopher" of the company, Conor Horrigan, had no idea brewing is where he'd end up, but four years ago, he knew he wasn't happy where he was. In fact, fresh out of school, Horrigan was spending most of his time in a suit and tie.
"I was working a Wall Street job and I didn't like it, I wasn't passionate about it at all," Horrigan said. "But I didn't really know what I was passionate about. I discovered the thing that made me happiest was doing something really cool, having a fun experience, something different, new, awesome. Meeting new people, hanging out with old friends. Being around people and bringing them together."
Horrigan took off on a trip around the world with his now-wife, Lindsay, experience the world and putting a lot of thought into what he wanted to do, exactly, and how he would achieve that next step.
"I needed to expand my beer education and I needed to expand my business education," Horrigan said. "I needed to expand my skill-set, you could say. I decided to apply for my MBA and go back to New England for the summer leading up to business school"
Horrigan ended up at the New England Brewery Co. in Woodbridge in the summer of 2009 to learn more about the process and the craft, telling them up front he had an idea he'd like to pursue of his own someday and offered his hours working for free in exchange for knowledge.
"Three months just flies," he said. "But I wanted to understand everything. When I first showed up, [Rob Leonard] didn't think I was going to be able to do it. There's a lot of people out there who want to start their own brewery and don't realize how much is involved. By the time I left, they knew I was serious and saw how much I wanted it. I can't say enough good stuff about those guys and their product."
Horrigan, a bit wiser, took two years to finish his MBA, draw up a business plan and raise some funds. Then Jennifer Muckerman contacted him from St. Louis. With brewing in her blood, she joined the team as brewer and Chief Beer Artist.
Muckerman went to work honing the product that would become the founding Half Full Brewery beer, Bright Ale. Muckerman has some help in Chris Heagney, Beer Artist Protégé, a Fairfield County native who studied studied philosophy in college and attended brewing school at Brewlab in the UK.
They would get settled in at Half Full's new digs, leased just this past February at 43 Homestead Avenue.
Then he brought on Giles, who joined the team from Darien and is as knowledgeable about Horrigan's journey as the founder is himself. Giles also gives great tours of the factory and pays attention to even the tiniest of details in the process of how the ale is made.
"I like Conor and believe in his ideals," Giles said. "We were both unhappy in our current work situations prior to this place, and we were both looking for a new adventure. The idea of dedicating your life to friendship, to following your passions and dreams, to doing what you love so you can succeed—that's an ideology I can get behind."
Hall Full is currently only offering their product on draft until they can work out a bottling plan. You can find Half Full Bright Ale served up in the tasting room of their home at 43 Homestead Avenue, or at any of the following locations:
- Beach House Cafe
- The Boatyard
- Coal House Pizzeria
- Darien Social
- Harlan Social