Two Roads Brewing Company is building a second brewery that could turn even the staunchest wine connoisseur into a beer lover.

The Stratford craft beer behemoth broke ground Thursday on a $12 million, 25,000 sq. ft. barrel-aging facility dubbed "Area Two." The new site is being built on 2.5 acres of land adjoining the existing brewery, and is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

Area Two will focus exclusively on rare sour and barrel-aged beers, fruity styles that are popular in Europe and tend to be higher in alcohol content. Many of the recipes require wild yeast, which cannot be used in the main facility due to the potential for contamination.

Some of the Area Two brews will spend upwards of two-and-a-half years in wooden barrels sourced from wineries and distilleries, transforming into "something more wine-like than what we're used to," Two Roads Master Brewer Phil Markowski said.

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Like wine, these beers are often made with fruit. Two Roads already has a small orchard on the orchard, growing sour cherries, black currants, elderberries and raspberries, with plans to expand and produce peaches, gooseberries and other fruits.

"We'll mix it up," Markowski said of the different flavor combinations in store for Area Two.

With hundreds of barrels aging beer in excess of two years, Markowski said, the new facility will look more like a winery than a traditional brewery. Visitors can expect to see materials common in winemaking, like concrete tanks and foudres, casks used for maturing and storing wine.

"Part Disney World, part science lab," is how Neil Hauck describes plans for Area Two. His Darien-based firm, Neil Hauck Architects, is designing the facility – Petra Construction Corp., based in North Haven, will build it.

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According to Hauck, people will enter the building through a vestibule on the second floor and then descend into the 120-person tasting room, while taking in the surrounding brewery. Visitors can sip on their beers on the deck overlooking the property's wetlands, which Two Roads plans to beautify to create a park-like atmosphere.

"This is going to be a showcase," CEO Brad Hittle said.

He and his co-founders – Markowski, CFO Peter Doering, and CCO Clem Pellani – acknowledged Stratford officials like Mayor John Harkins and State Rep. Laura Hoydick for their work in helping Two Roads get its start five years ago.

Since its inception, the brewery has grown to produce the equivalent of two million cases of beer and is considered a Top 40 brewery in the U.S, Hittle said.

And now, with a second facility in the works, Two Roads is being taken to another level. According to Pellani, beers brewed in Area Two will allow Two Roads to distribute to areas they don't normally reach, because the barrel-aged beers travel well.

"I am incredibly excited for this," Pellani said. "It's a nice complement, to give the people of Connecticut a slightly different experience" alongside what the traditional brewery offers.