September 13, 2018

Brewery launches in Manchester's Cheney Historic District

PHOTO | Jessica Prout
PHOTO | Jessica Prout
Labyrinth Brewing co-founders Chris Walnum, left, Sean Gaura, middle, and Adam Delaura, right.
PHOTO | Jessica Prout
Labyrinth Brewing has a 2,100-square-foot tap room at 148 Forest St. in Manchester.

Connecticut's brewery craze has hit Manchester's Cheney Brothers Historic District, the mecca of the late 19th century's silk industry.

A trio of friends from town opened Labyrinth Brewing Co. on Aug. 25, unveiling a revamped brewpub in a former waste silk warehouse that was once part of the Cheney family's silk mill complex. The 2,100-square-foot tap room at 148 Forest St., which can hold up to 175 patrons, serves six to eight beers.

The 39-year-old owners, Adam Delaura, Chris Walnum and Sean Gaura, have added four employees to their operation and plan to produce 800 to 1,000 barrels of beer annually.

Due to state licensing restrictions, the co-founders donated their beer before opening last month, giving away samples to charity events in Manchester benefitting the Silk City Arts & Music Festival and Manchester Community College's premier fundraising event, Evening of Fine Wines.

The group also rallied a panel of judges, professional brewers, ingredient suppliers, bar managers and bloggers to select pilot beers to sell.

They've chosen Turbo Love Juice New England IPA; Wyvern's Raspberry Wheat; Siren's Song Lime Gose; and Pan's American IPA, among other IPAs, cream ales and stouts.

Fixed in a mill built in 1882, the brewers undertook a 16-month construction of the historic space supported by two Kickstarter fundraisers that collected nearly $22,000. The donor names are scrawled on a "Wall of Heroes" in the brewery.

On opening day, the co-founders were met by a line of 85 guests waiting to visit the newest brewery hotspot in Manchester, which also includes Parable Brewing Company and 2nd Bridge Brewing Company.

Delaura says the group has many local community ties, but he never expected that level of support at the brewpub, just a quarter mile from Main Street.

"That is one of the reasons we are in Manchester, because the community support is amazing," he said. "Thus far, we have seen a lot of repeat business. Most people can walk or its just a short ride away."

Without a food license, patrons are encouraged to bring their own food or grab a bite from one of the many food trucks frequenting the brewery. Labyrinth sells red and white wines and ciders for non-beer drinkers.

Merchandise is also for sale, with Labyrinth embroidered shirts, glassware and pint glasses available. Sweatshirts and long-sleeve shirts will soon be available for the fall and winter months.

Starting next week, Labyrinth will stay open later on Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate the foot traffic. The brewpub will be open Thursdays from 4 to 9 p.m., Fridays 4 to 10 p.m., Saturdays noon to 10 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m.

The brewers have booked numerous acoustic musicians to add to the taproom ambiance, and will play music in their stereo sound system otherwise.

If goes well, Delaura said the group will add on more space and hire up to five employees in the next six months to support its taproom and production, which they hope will grow to a selection of 10 to 12 beers in that time.

"We are trying to keep a good variety of beers here to showcase multiple styles," he said.

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