Kent Falls Brewing Company Led Way for Farm Breweries in CT

The state is looking to make it easier for people to open a brewery on a farm. That could be a boost for a lot more than the beer business.

At the Camps Road Farm in Kent, a former dairy operation was transformed.

While barnyard animals still roam the land, a new crop stretches to the sky. About an acre of hops grows there.

Kent Falls Brewing Company Paved Way for Farm Breweries in CT

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount about farming and doing all this together,” Barry Labendz, founder of Kent Falls Brewing Co., said.

Labendz is a part of group of five which had a big dream about five years ago.

If a successful hop harvest was hard, even more challenging was the idea to build a brewery here.

“We went to the town and we said we want to do this. And they said there’s nothing on the books,” Labendz said.

After difficult year of navigating town and state rules, Connecticut’s likely first farm brewery – Kent Falls Brewing Company - finally opened in 2015.

Now years later, Governor Dan Malloy has signed a bill to make that process easier for future businesses.

The new farm brewery permit lays out more straightforward steps than what Kent Falls had to go through.

It also sets clear rules about sales, ingredient sources, and the use of the title “Connecticut Craft Beer.”

“More people are probably likely to apply and try to open a farm brewery in Connecticut with this permit that without it. I mean I think that’s it. That’s the really exciting part,” Labendz said.

Experts estimate the state’s craft breweries already create a more than a half-billion dollar economic impact each year. And some hope this new law only increases that.

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