Derby brewery opens doors long closed
Updated 4:46 pm, Friday, August 25, 2017
Bad sons make good beer.
That is the premise behind a craft brewery opened last month by Shelton brothers Bill and Mark DaSilva in a renovated factory building across the Housatonic River on Roosevelt Drive in Derby. By the look of the crowd on a recent Saturday afternoon, they have succeeded.
The brewery is the newest venture of the DaSilvas, who co-founded the Southport Brewing Co. more than 20 years ago. The first location in Fairfield paired in-house brews made by Mark DaSilva with pub fare. The company expanded to locations in Stamford, Milford and Branford. The original location closed last year. Only a restaurant with the SBC name remains in Milford.
The brothers decided they wanted to get back into the beer-making business, Mark DaSilva’s first love.
To that end, the DaSilvas purchased the 113-year-old Manger Die Casting Co. building, gutted the inside and renovated the interior’s red brick walls and wood-beam ceiling. They added a large rectangular polished-wood bar and matching tables and stools. Then they installed a state-of-the-art stainless-steel brewing system that can make up to 15,000 barrels of beer.
The brothers purchased pressurized growler filling stations and canning equipment. At this point, cans in 4-packs can only be purchased at the brewery, but the brothers said they may expand distribution.
Outside the building, they put up a grass patio area with more seating and a fire pit. Above the front doors is the brewery’s symbol, a combination skull and hop that glows with a green light at night.
“We decided it was all or nothing,” said Bill DaSilva, head of business operations. “We are either going to make it or we’re not.”
And since they are getting back to their beer-making roots, it is only fitting it happens in the Naugatuck Valley, where the DaSilva brothers grew up.
“We wanted to do something for the people of the Valley, especially in this area, because it’s been a long time, maybe 100 years, since they had a brewery in Derby,” Bill DaSilva said.
The business is attracting high-level attention, with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., planning to stop by Thursday to talk about how the site turned from a contaminated brownfield into a going concern again.
The name Bad Sons is an acronym using the first letter of each lower Naugatuck Valley town; Beacon Falls, Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, Oxford, Naugatuck and Seymour.
“The name worked perfectly because our father used to jokingly refer to Mark and me as the bad sons because our older brother is a pastor,” said Bill DaSilva.
The brothers were familiar with the old factory building because the Manger family grew up on the same street as them.
“Every day we have been driving past the old factory building and we always said it would be perfect for a brewery,” said Bill DaSilva.
After purchasing the building, they began renovations with the help of an $85,000 grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
They have eight beers on tap, each with a whimsical name Bill DaSilva said somehow reflects the nature of the Valley.
Conn Ale is a pale ale made from the Connecticut-grown Cascade hops, Doobage is a bitter finish India pale ale reminiscent of Vermont’s famous Heady Topper, Bad Billy Brown is a brown ale blended with English-style malt, like a light porter. Hooligan is a bold and hoppy India pale ale; Flight Risk is an easy drinking, lower-alcohol session IPA, Street Fight is another session IPA with a bit more hoppyness, Lupefield is a powerful double IPA that tops out at nearly 9 percent alcohol and Skip Daze is the brothers’ spin on a traditional wheat beer.
For those who find themselves in the brewery but don’t like beer, the brothers said they have various Connecticut wines and ciders on tap, as well.
All the spent grain is picked up by Stone Garden Farms in Shelton, which uses it to feed their cattle.
“I really like the idea that our grain is being used to feed the cattle that can be eaten by us,” said Bill DaSilva. “We are going to be as sustainable as possible.”
Like most breweries in the state, Bad Sons does not serve food, but on Wednesdays, Dew Drop Inn delivers wings and on Thursdays, Roseland Pizza delivers food.
“We fully support our area restaurants,” Bill DaSilva said. “And they support us. Roseland even allowed us to create our own pizza.”
During the rest of the week, they see assorted food trucks.
Bad Sons Brewery, at 251 Roosevelt Drive, Derby, is open Wednesday and Thursday 4 to 9 p.m., Friday 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.