July 17, 2014

Hooker Brewing wants site next to Rock Cats' Hartford stadium

Pablo Robles
Pablo Robles
Curt Cameron, CEO, Thomas Hooker Brewing Co.

Thomas Hooker Brewing Co. plans to submit a proposal to build 50,000-square-foot brewery, restaurant and visitors center adjacent to the proposed Rock Cats baseball stadium in downtown Hartford, owner Curt Cameron confirmed.

Cameron said the development would create at least 50 new jobs on top of the 24 employees he has in Bloomfield. All new equipment would cost an estimated $5 million. An architect is putting together an estimate for land and construction costs, he said. Cameron has his sights set on the parcel that used to house the now demolished HB Davis building.

The brewery is "busting at the seams" in its 17,000-square-foot Bloomfield home, Cameron said, which has meant having to delay or turn down brewing contracts for other breweries.

He said Thursday that if a brewery called him now about a contract, Hooker wouldn't be able to get the batch going until mid-September.

"We are getting killed on opportunity costs right now," Cameron said.

Hooker has been trying to find a suitable Hartford location for several years, he said.

As a result, he wants to move quickly. He hopes to be up and running by spring 2016, when the stadium, if approved, is slated to open. He has been talking to Rock Cats owner Josh Solomon about the plan.

Cameron thinks being open then will help spur other development around the stadium.

If Hooker's proposal is successful, the brewery would upgrade its 20-barrel system to a 50-barrel system. More space would also mean a revamped training center for developmentally challenged adults who work at the brewery, he added.

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