Stony Creek Looks at Casino Move As Addition to Consumer Experience

In today’s competitive market, brand loyalty is harder to come by said Stony Creek Brewmaster Andy Schwartz.

“There is just so much new and exciting craft beer options out there, especially in the state of Connecticut and the Northeast, we have always believed in the importance of offering the customer a real experience to go with the beer they are drinking,” he said.

It is why the brewery, that made more than 20,000 barrels last year built its water front brewery and tap room in Branford, Connecticut.

“Just this last year, we attracted over 360,000 visitors to our brewery, and the average stay is over three hours,” he explained. “This creates a tremendous opportunity to offer our guests a lasting impression and experience to hold on to.”

The latest experience to blend with the brewery will be adding a taproom to the Foxwoods Resort Casino in near-by Mashantucket this summer.

With 95 percent of the guests that visit Foxwoods living in markets Stony Creek sells its beers, Schwartz sees this as a great second location to expand on the brewery’s name

“This second Connecticut location, on the eastern side of the state, allows us to reach more people, from more of our surrounding states, to give them a “postcard” memory to take home of their time experiencing our brand and Connecticut beer,” he said. “We believe that people who leave with these experiences will be more likely to purchase our beer in their home town, and might be more likely to visit our other brewery location.”

Being a northeast regional brewery, Stony Creek is are always looking for, and open to, opportunities to grow its exposure in the region.

“We are also part of a fairly young and thriving craft beer state,” he said. “The Northeast is hot in terms of craft beer. Adding a second location gives us the opportunity to tell more people our story and give them the chance to “experience” our brand, and thus hopefully develop a real connection to it.”

The new location will be a fully operating brewery as well as tap room.

“Our plan is to innovate new products and do extensive collaborations,” Schwartz said. “It will be a celebration of locally brewed Connecticut craft beer.”

The brewery already has a relationship with the team at Foxwoods for a few years now, including making a brand for the casino called Foxwoods IPA, which has proven to be an extremely successful beer.

“They are the perfect partner, their leadership team has a very clear vision of their future, and local craft beer is a big part of that vision,” Schwartz said. “They fully understand the importance of offering fresh, quality, local and unique experience to their guests.  They attract millions of visitors per year from the Northeast Region, all looking for authentic and exciting experiences. It’s a natural fit and a tremendous partnership.”

With two floors, 7,100 square feet, and seating for over three hundred guests, both floors of Stony Creek Brewery will offer distinct experiences. The ground floor will be designed as an ode to Stony Creek’s New England heritage with a spacious beer garden and a brew deck with a view into the brewhouse, giving guests a first-hand look at the beer production process. The second-floor design includes a full cocktail bar with a southern California theme, a stage for live entertainment and an elevated banquet table overlooking the property. Adding to the refined but laid-back atmosphere, guests can also lounge in the Pool House, an intimate space with canvas privacy screens, integrated bar counter and a large HD video screen.

It was important that Stony Creek found a space and a location that was synergistic to their brand and family.

“It had to work naturally and be mutually beneficial,” Schwartz explained. “We wanted to find a location and a partner that had a similar vision to us, very similar demographics, and the right level of excitement.

“Foxwoods had all this in spades — no pun intended. As we got to know their leadership and toured the space and scouted opportunities within their property, it all fell in place naturally. Foxwoods is the largest Resort and Casino in North America, complete with an exciting new outlet mall and cutting edge thrill ride attractions. It draws upwards of 12 million visitors per year including their outlet mall traffic. They are aggressively pursuing new and exciting tenants and experiences. All of this was a part of our decision to partner with them.”

Schwartz anticipates somewhere between 25-30 new staff members at the Foxwoods brewery and tap room.

“These will be Stony Creek employees,” he indicated, saying the plan is to hire as many of them as possible, well ahead of opening, so that they can work in the Branford brewery to be trained in the Stony Creek way and experience the brewery’s culture prior to opening.

“This will help them feel a part of the family and will help to make sure the experience we offer here at our Branford brewery is consistently represented at our Foxwoods brewery,” Schwartz explained. “We call what we do here in Branford, “time on the Creek”  it’s a real “way of life”. It will be important that our new family members understand our ‘Aggressively Laid Back’ lifestyle thoroughly.”

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  1. Brewer Magazine Q&A: Andy Schwartz, Stony Creek

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