Brew Fest brings the party to Vernon




The first Hockanum Brew Fest brought together a crowd of over 1,000 for an afternoon of enjoying craft beverages and celebrating the future of Rockville.

Last Saturday, 27 different breweries, wineries and distilleries came to Rockville for the first attempt at throwing a beer festival in this usually quiet village. Attendees turned up in droves, lured in by one of the first nice days of the season and the promise of good craft beer.

“The weather is fantastic,” UConn alumnus Mike Donohue of Fairfield said. “I’ve been enjoying a lot of IPAs and trying out a few other random selections.”

The event took place on a grassy stretch along a shutdown section of West Main Street set between the Hockanum River and Hockanum Mill. Attendees had their IDs and tickets checked at the gate before receiving a small tasting glass emblazoned with the festival logo and year.

Despite this being the first brewing festival held in Vernon, vendors and attendees alike praised the organization of the event.

“It’s been a well-run, great event,” Tommy Smith, an employee of New England Brewing Company and a Vernon resident, said. “I think it will be great for the community.”

“The lines have been short even though there are a ton of people here,” Donohue said. “By the time I finished my first beer, I was already next in line.”

Ken Kaplan, the owner of Kaplan Cycles, a motorcycle restoration company that operates out of the mill across from the event, said this event brought new people to Rockville.

“This is the biggest party Rockville has ever seen,” Kaplan said. “We’re opening a motorcycle-themed brew pub [in the mill], and hopefully this shows UConn students and others will come down.”

Drew Crandall, an organizer of the festival, said before the event that he hoped it would bring new life to Rockville.

“It’s been absolutely great,” Crandall said the day of the event. “We had a massive rush in sales and the weather has held out. It’s really been fantastic.”

While the crowd was littered with local residents and attendees in UConn apparel, some of the attendees had never been to this area before and had been drawn in just for the event.

“If their plan was to get people to this town, it worked,” Jay Carter, a Hartford area resident who heard about the event online, said. Carter said he attends brewing festivals often and was happy with how well the event turned out despite one complaint.

“Get Sam Adams out of here. I can have that any time,” Carter said. “It’s all about the local stuff.”

Will Harris is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at

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