Something distinctive is brewing in the Candlewood Lake area. It’s a brand-new nanobrewery with craft beer that’s sure to tempt the tastebuds of local beer lovers.
Candlewood Brewing Company, which opened with a soft launch earlier this year at 116 Danbury Road in New Milford, is one of the latest breweries to be part of the coveted Connecticut Beer Trail.
Mayor Pete Bass said, “We are excited with the addition of Candlewood Brewing to our town. This company portrays the American Dream of a startup to a microbrewery with unique beers. We appreciate their investment and wish them much success.”
The taproom offers a relaxing interior lake vibe with indoor seating for 49. The décor features custom, hardwood bar areas, and Candlewood Lake photos and mementos line the walls. There’s an outside patio, too, that seats up to 15 people.
The main attraction is the wide assortment of flavorful craft brews, sure to please everyone – from casual microbrewery visitors that will know a good beer when tasted, to the pickiest of craft beer connoisseurs.
Candlewood Brewing co-owners, Dave Adams and Patrick Raffaele – who love the Lake just as much as they’re passionate about their beer – are having fun creating a wide variety of brews for likeminded folks and enjoy matching each new beer with a lake-themed name.
“The 1928 New England Style Pale Ale, with a generous amount of hops aroma and flavors, is one of our bestselling IPA beers to try,” said Patrick.
“We just rolled out Skinny DIPA, a Double India Pale Ale, and we’re currently working on a new summer wheat beer,” added Dave.
Deb Sowerby, who meets with friends at Candlewood Brewing every week, said, “I want my Vanished Village!” as she entered the taproom. It’s an easy drinking stout with roasted coffee notes. “Being here is like the Cheers bar where everyone knows your name. I feel very at home and relaxed here,” she shared.
“Candlewood Brewing has great beer and good people. What else do you need?” added Lyn Sullivan – who came with her husband Tim, Tim Jr. and daughter-in-law, Shannon – to meet up with Deb.
Chicken Rock Bock, a seasonal lager made in a traditional style with a signature touch, is Kathy Ciuci’s favorite beer on tap. This Sacred Heart University intern, who’s working on her Brewing Science Certificate at the brewery, said, “It’s a really good example of the style… a smooth, drinkable bock.”
Candlelight XPA Extra Pale Ale is a crowd pleaser, too, for those who enjoy a light, clean and crisp taste.
“If a customer can’t decide on what flavorful craft beer to try first, then there’s always the Pontoon [Flight] where one can try four craft beers at a time,” said Dave.
Each sampler is $10, and a pint is $7. All varieties of beer are available to-go in single crowlers, 16 ounce 4-packs, and a 3-pack crowler special.
Candlewood Brewing sources local ingredients as much as possible. The owners are environmentally conscious and practice sustainability, like using biodegradable, ecofriendly rings for 4-packs and giving spent grains to a local farm for livestock.
Pizza is offered by the slice, and sweet hard ciders and crisp, local wine as well.
The co-owners’ partners, Kathryn Gerety-Raffaele and Ro D’Ostilio, are integral to running Candlewood Brewing. They work behind the scenes in all aspects of the business with Kathryn working on marketing and bookkeeping and Ro in permitting and product packaging. They also enjoy working in the taproom so they can meet the customers.
As for future plans, Dave said, “we’re focused on spending the next one or two years dialing in our recipes.” He would also like for the company to be active in brew fests.
The owners envision moving into a bigger space in the lake area when the timing is right. “We’ll outgrow this space soon enough. It was turnkey and just the right size, a good steppingstone for us to start our brewery,” said Patrick.
Like many small businesses, it began with pure passion and a brilliant idea.
From its inception, Candlewood Brewing is all about the determination to brew “a beer for everybody” and share them with good friends, family, and beer enthusiasts alike.
For Patrick, the journey began in the mid-90s when he became fascinated by his first trip to a microbrewery. He also received a beer kit from his wife in 2009.
Seven years ago, Patrick’s fulltime employer held a contest for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and he became the recipient of a “dream grant.” He spent much time working on the business plan and began brewing with a fellow brewer, Howie Nuehlen, in the basement of an antique home.
Then, came the opportunity. In the spring of 2020, Bad Dreams Brewing was up for sale. Patrick immediately thought that Dave, a fellow craft beer lover, would be an ideal business partner. He owns a successful plumbing business in the area and brings a different skillset to the table.
Dave, who was always a big fan of the previous brewery – and also loved sampling Pat and Howie’s batches that they were producing – knew right away that he wanted in on the deal.
Keeping the Dream Alive is a fest “bier” that pays homage to Bad Dreams. Today, Howie is the head brewer for Candlewood Brewing.
In June of 2020, the two partners took over the Bad Dreams Brewing lease and spent the following months renovating the brewery.
Taproom Hours: Thursday, 5 – 9 pm; Friday, 5 – 9:30 pm; Saturday, 12 – 9:30 pm; Sunday, 12 – 6 pm
Article & Photos: Alicia Sakal