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August 19, 2016

Manchester natives plan brewery in Cheney Historic District

There are shared experiences too compelling to ignore. For three Manchester natives, brewing beer is the passion that led to the creation of Labyrinth Brewing Co.

Adam Delaura, Chris Walnum, and Sean Gaura received Planning and Zoning Commission approval last month to open a brewpub in the Cheney Brothers National Historic Landmark District in Manchester.

Under new regulations, Labyrinth Brewing is permitted in the historic zone to operate without selling food — a previous requirement of the Master Plan of Conservation and Development.

The 37-year-old home brewers have leased a 5,000-square-foot property at 148 Forest St. to construct a brew house and taproom.

The company hopes to open next spring in the former waste silk warehouse, once part of the Cheney Brothers silk mill complex, Delaura said.

Acquiring space near Main Street was essential, he said, as the busy area would help boost business. Several of the Cheney mills have been converted to apartments that will be conveniently close to Labyrinth Brewing.

Built in 1882, the Forest Street building is an open canvas, Delaura said, with area to construct a brew house and taproom serving between 75 to 120 people.

The co-founders met through a club of a dozen home brewers exchanging recipes and brewing tips. Walnum’s father encouraged the long-time friends to pursue the brewery because they should love their work, he said.

With that support, the trio decided to dive into their creative outlet as their full-time job, leaving careers as a banker, retail manager, and librarian.

While they like their current jobs, Delaura said, the timing is ideal for the co-founders to make a career change.

Brewing is similar to cooking, he said, as the art of creating generates a social experience the partners are passionate about.

Labyrinth Brewing launched this year and began connecting with companies around the state to gather business advice, brewing tips, and learn about obtaining a federal brewing license.

Without a license, the company is limited to donating samples to events such as the Farm to Table Dinner and the Silk City Festival on Aug. 11.

Delaura said quality assurance is crucial to the product Labyrinth is working to build.

With 20 pilot beers, the group assembled a tasting panel of nationally recognized judges, professional brewers, beer ingredient suppliers, bloggers, bar managers, and gastro pub owners to determine which brews are sold.

The panel will score each recipe on aroma, appearance, flavor, and overall impression of the brew.

As musicians, Delaura said the co-founders respect the art of expression. Labyrinth’s taproom will feature a gallery supporting local artists.

In a recent crowd-funding effort, the group exceeded its $1,400 Kickstarter fundraiser goal, raising $3,000 from friends, family, and anonymous donors. The funding supported purchasing business cards, shirts, and glasses to promote their brand while they construct a comprehensive business plan, he said.

Delaura said the company will seek a second wave of donations in a large Kickstarter fundraiser this fall to assist with financing their taproom.

For details about Labyrinth Brewing Company visit

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