Home Fairfield Ridgefield gets into the craft brewery act with Nod Hill

Ridgefield gets into the craft brewery act with Nod Hill

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nod hill brewery robert kaye david kaye
Robert and David Kaye.

As a man who always preferred scotch to beer, Robert Kaye finds himself in a curious position: With his son David, he’s in the midst of opening Nod Hill, a craft brewery on the premises of his long-established Riverside Fence at 137 Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield.

“I was never a beer drinker,” the elder Kaye admitted. “But when my daughter did a semester in Salzburg, Dave told me, ‘If you don’t try beer in Austria, you’re nuts.’”

A few glasses of monk-brewed Marzen beer at Salzurg’s Augustiner Brewery soon changed his mind, he said. “Dave led me by the nose,” he laughed. “I got a real
education about it.”

David’s interest in hops-and-malt developed into experimenting with home-brewing while attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music — in addition to Nod Hill and his position as Riverside’s sales manager, he also owns Creeksound Recording Studio in Newtown — and he gained further experience working as a bartender and cellar man at a London pub after graduation.

Meanwhile, Robert had found himself unemployed after some 20 years as the principal of Meadowlands Marketplace, where he operated the Meadowlands Flea Market. By 2006, he said, “I found that I couldn’t compete against the larger merchandising groups, who were using flea markets as loss leaders.”

Looking for a job — “I’m not a corporate guy,” he said. Kaye eventually bought Riverside Fence, which at the time had eight employees; today it has 42. Twice named to Inc. magazine’s 5000 list, which showcases the fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S., Kaye said Riverside is today the largest custom fencing company in the county, though he declined to give sales figures. Inc. reported in 2014 that
it had a three-year revenue growth
of 136 percent.

The father/son duo had talked about opening a brewery for about four years, “and thought we’d do so three or four years from now,” Robert said. However, once he purchased the Ethan Allen Highway property two-and-a-half years ago and took
note of the sudden proliferation of craft breweries in the area, “We decided to
not be caught behind the 8-ball.”

After successfully seeking an amendment to Ridgefield’s zoning laws to allow a brewery in the B-2 commercial zone — which previously allowed manufacturing, but not brewing — in February, the Kayes set about transforming about 2,400 of Riverside’s 32,000 square feet into a brewing and storage facility, with another 500 square feet set aside for a tap room, which they said can fit about 55 comfortably; a room for private functions will also
be available.

Having hired 26-year-old Kyle Acenowr, formerly head brewer at The North Brewery in Endicott, New York, as Nod Hill’s head brewer, the Kayes are now finalizing their brewing plans as they eye an
October opening.

Nod Hill will offer six core beers on draft at all times, including stouts, porters and double IPAs, as well as cans and bottles for sale. Distribution will also be
available to a handful of bars in the surrounding area.

“The key to our beers is that they be drinkable,” David said, explaining that Nod Hill will eschew the types of sometimes bizarre flavors that appeal primarily to cultists. “We want to brew what we like — something that after you take a sip, you want another one. Brewing something that’s aggressively flavored just for the
sake of it isn’t what we’re about.”

The tap room will not be serving food, Robert noted: “I don’t want to be in the restaurant business.” Instead patrons will be welcome to bring in their own food.

With parking for 70 cars, Nod Hill can also expand into the so-far unused field in the back of the property, Robert noted.

“We’re starting out small — in our first year we’re looking at producing around 800 barrels. But we have the capacity for much more than that.

“It’s a very large property,” he added. “We have almost eight acres to build on, so if and when the time comes (to expand further) we’ll be ready.”

Nod Hill will be open Thursdays from 4 to 8, Fridays from 3 to 8, Saturdays from 12 to 8, and Sundays from 12 to 5.

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