BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Peter Cowles of Fairfield has been making his own beer for 18 years, but it was a win at a recent brewing competition that made him think he could turn a hobby into a business.
The prize for snagging top honors was a chance to brew at the commercial Heartland Brewery in New York City.
“That really pushed me over the edge,” said Cowles, the marketing director for Time Inc.’s InStyle Magazine.
This Saturday, Cowles and his wife, Tara, will make his dream a reality when they officially open Aspetuck Brew Lab, a small-but-sleek brewery and tap room at 3389 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport’s Black Rock neighborhood. The grand opening is planned for noon and will include a ribbon-cutting with State Sen. Steve Stafstrom and City Council members Kathryn Bukovsky and Scott Burns.
“Beer is a huge creative outlet,” said Cowles, bounding up and down the stairs to check the temperature on a brewing stout. “It’s a blank canvas. You can do anything with beer.”
Open on weekends only for now, the brewery will have between five and eight beers on tap at any given time, including red and black IPAs and a Belgian-style saison. Cowles will also offer specialty beers with a higher hop or alcohol content.
The couple will not sell food, but guests can order delivery if they’d like to have a meal on the premises.
“We’ll have a big stack of menus,” Cowles said.
Tucked behind Stoked, a progressive smoke shop, and under Kip’s Ski Shop, Aspetuck’s taproom is outfitted with orange and black metal stools and sconces fashioned from Erlenmeyer flasks. A selection of t-shirts and Aspetuck glassware is available for sale.
“It’s the perfect location,” Cowles said. “It’s all great.”
Tara Cowles left her job at Aspetuck Land Trust to get the brewery up and running. Her association with Aspetuck and the fact that the fresh water they use comes from the Aspetuck watershed spawned the brew lab’s name.
The couple heard about potential locations across Fairfield County, but Tara Cowles said they were convinced Fairfield or Black Rock would be ideal.
“We really want to be part of the neighborhood, part of the community,” she said.
Aspetuck Brew Lab will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
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