BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Area beer lovers will be able to take a step back in time later this month when Brewport opens its doors, offering up a sudsy slice of Bridgeport’s brewing history.
Master brewer Jeff Browning, most recently of BAR in New Haven, will be cooking up some of his own creations, as well as brews taken directly from journals recorded by a top Bridgeport brewer from 1902 through Prohibition.
“We will be bringing back authentic recipes,” the Hamden resident said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Nestled right smack in the middle of the Route 8 loop on Frontage Road, Brewport couldn’t have a more visible location. Each day, about 100,000 cars pass by the building, formerly a newspaper distribution warehouse built in the 1950s.
Bruce and John Barrett, who run the billboard company Barrett Outdoors, bought the building about 15 years ago with dreams of finding a creative use for it.
“We really believed it had the potential to be a restaurant site,” said Bruce Barrett, who lives in Milford. “And I love Bridgeport.”
The spacious 250-seat restaurant will be steeped in the city’s — and the building’s — industrial roots. Menus will be printed in newspaper form and the owners saved a few newspaper distribution boxes that will decorate the dining space. Workers have paneled sections of the walls in wood from the original building and the prominent bar sports recovered zinc and copper pieces.
Gas lights were custom made for the walls. Even the urinals in the men’s room are fashioned from old beer kegs. A long mural outside was inspired by a 1883 lithograph of old-fashioned beer-making equipment and Browning will display some of his extensive collection of beer memorabilia throughout the restaurant.
“It’s all very industrial looking,” Browning said.
Brewport will stay true to its name, serving up eight house beers and 16 other craft beers with no national brands. While there will be other “high-end” liquors available, the restaurant will be smoke and TV free and will not be serving shots, Browning said.
Hungry? Brewport will serve a simple menu featuring New Haven-style pizza made at the open kitchen in the center of the space, salads and root floats topped with Browning’s own Wellington’s Old Style Root Beer.
The space will also feature a shop and a large entertainment area for music and films, Browning said. The 114-spot parking lot outside will have security attendants and fencing, Barrett said.
“We want this to be a place people feel comfortable coming to,” he said. “We hope to bring the South End back to its former glory.”
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