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A Brew For All Seasons

Hops on the Hill is a Year-Round Farm-to-Glass Brewery

Phil Lohr and Al Gondek share a clear vision of what their brewery is all about. 

The two men, co-owners of Hops on the Hill Brewery on Dug Road aren’t interested in making exotic, fancy-sounding beers. 

“I love brewing, but it’s the means to an end, it’s not the end itself,” Phil says. It’s more about community, a great venue and bringing people together to enjoy the farm environment. That’s what we have to offer, the whole experience.”

Phil and Al opened their farm brewery in June of 2018 in an old tobacco barn on land Al owns. Planning for the business started many months before. Phil was a brewing hobbyist for many years - “Before home brewing became popular” - and Gondek, whose family has operated farms in Glastonbury for decades, was growing hops on some of his fields. 

“Al was growing an acre of fresh hops, we met and started talking about hops and what I knew about craft breweries,” Phil says. “I asked him ‘Do you want to give this a shot?’ We started with a very humble vision and wanted to grow it over time.” 

For Al, the brewery represented a dramatic shift in his life. 

“I thought of growing hops for other brewers but I never thought of owning a brewery myself. If you had told me five years ago I’d be part owner of a brewery,” he says with a laugh, “I’d never have believed it.”

The beers he and Phil brew are all made from local ingredients, including hops that come from a field visible from the large windows inside the cavernous brewery barn. Hops on the Hill offers about 10 beers brewed in the giant steel drums inside the barn. 

There’s coffee porter, apple ale, citrus ale, Winterfest lager and a nut brown ale, to name a few. Phil says they’re traditional beers, not trendy brews with fancy-sounding names. 

“If you want a cupcake mango pilsner, that’s not us. Our beers are very traditional, brewed to taste like biting into a fresh piece of bread.”

The barn that houses the brewery was originally used by Al’s family to dry tobacco they grew on the surrounding land. While the tap bar at one end is new, the rest of the barn, which features rough-hewn timbers and bunches of dried tobacco leaves hanging from the beams in the high ceiling, is authentic. 

The brewery is open year-round, something Phil says many customers don’t always realize. While it doesn’t have a kitchen, customers can order-in food from one of several local restaurants. Phil and Al say they also are considering opening the brewery up to large events, like weddings. 

Their customers seem to understand the farm culture he and Al have created with Hops on the Hill, Phil says. 

“We’re hearing that people get it, they get the vibe that all of these beers are made with Connecticut produce. It’s not just a brewery on a farm, it’s truly farm to glass.”



 

  • Photo provided by Hops on the Hill
  • Photo provided by Hops on the Hill