On March 11th Connecticut based craft brewer Two Roads Brewing Company will be opening a $15 million expansion called Area Two Experimental Brewing in a state-of-the-art 25,000 square foot facility. It will be entirely focused on sour, barrel-aged and experimental beers. According to Master Brewer and co-founder, Phil Markowski, “Area Two will be a brewery of boundless experimentation,” meaning that “we will continue to innovate, redefine and stretch the definition of beer.” Included at Area Two will be barrel-aged, lambic-style sour beers, beers aged in barrels obtained from distilleries, wineries and other sources as well as beers spontaneously fermented from local, airborne yeast. Beer will also age in large wooden tanks known as “foudres” for as long as two years to deliver unique characteristics found in these highly complex beers.
The showcase of the souring operation will be Area Two’s coolship; a large, shallow steel pan housed in a separate building facing the property’s wetlands preserve. The wetlands will be a rich source of local microflora which will be introduced to the fermenting beer as it rests in the coolship. This process, called “spontaneous fermentation,” is behind some of the world’s most renowned sour beers – and now the same process has a home in Stratford, CT. A mark of distinction of the Area Two coolship building is a unique curved ceiling, designed by Markowski, to encourage the desired microbes to settle into the cooled wort and facilitate spontaneous fermentation.
“The name Area Two is carefully derived from the Two Roads brand,” explained CEO and co-founder Brad Hittle. “The use of the numeral ‘2’ draws the needed connection to our main brand, Two Roads, while the name and its subliminal connection to Area 51 immediately and playfully conjure up the concept of experimentation — which is what this brewery will be about.” Hittle, an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience, explains that “art and science collide at Area Two,” and that “in the craft beer world, one cannot succeed without a blend of both.”
Situated on 10 acres, Two Roads’ entire property now includes the original and new brewing facilities, a wetlands with a future nature path, a large grass field, dubbed the ‘Hopyard,’ for outdoor events and parties, hop vines and a botanical garden where various fruits are grown to be used as brewing ingredients. Designed by Connecticut architects Neil Hauk and Associates, Area Two features a tasting room with a seasonal patio and a rooftop beer garden. The total in-season capacity for Area Two is over 180 people. “We wanted to create a beer campus,” as Hittle puts it, “where craft beer fans can spend an entire afternoon and evening experiencing a vast array of fermented beverages.”
Initial offerings at Area Two will include several Lambic style ales, a tequila barrel-aged gose, a bourbon barrel-aged cherry quad, a sour beer aged in whiskey barrels, an ale aged in a Calvados foudre sourced from Normandy, France and Kombucha — among several other creations.