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Meet Joe Connolly of Springdale Barrel Room in Framingham

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Connolly.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Joe. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Homebrewing began as a hobby that distracted me from my “real” job in hospitality. I was hooked by the creativity of the endeavor, something my corporate job was sorely lacking. When I was ready to run from the hotel industry I looked around for jobs that could professionalize my love of beer and brewing.

I ended up managing a beer store, which was a perfect avenue for my interest in this industry. I met so many of my future colleagues in this first job, including the Hendler brothers (owners and founders of Jack’s Abby and Springdale). Most importantly it forced me to learn and understand the myriad styles and stories that make up the wonderful world of beer. It prepared me to join a craft beer wholesaler, where I got to share my passion with an even larger audience.

Joining Jack’s Abby Brewing to open and manage Springdale and the Barrel Room has been the toughest and most rewarding job of my life. We get the great pleasure of unleashing our creativity in this fantastic medium, but it means that we don’t have the luxury of “turning it off” when the day is done. We live and breathe this industry.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Marrying your passion and profession has its natural challenges. It’s hard not to get analytical with a beer in hand; you’re always picking it apart, looking for flaws or looking for the secrets that achieve a certain characteristic.

I relish the challenge of welcoming people who are not familiar with wild-fermented, “funky” beer to our space. In addition to our IPAs, we always feature a selection of acid-forward beers that challenge the misconception that there is such thing as a standard “beer flavor.” Maybe you don’t like cheap yellow beer – not all of us do, either. But barrel-fermented beers aged on raspberries and pink peppercorns don’t share much in common with that fizzy yellow stuff.

Oh, and the ridiculous web of laws around opening a business that makes and sells alcohol is no one’s idea of a good time.

Please tell us about Springdale Barrel Room.
We are the experimental side project of Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers. We ferment the beer with ale yeast and generally play in the sandbox outside of craft lagers. This means we’ve gotten to crank out IPAs, Belgian-style beers and wood-aged, acid-forward beers commonly referred to as “sour” or “wild” beers.

We’re quite proud of our wood-aging program, which is one of the largest in New England. It mirrors our personal taste for “sour” beers that do not express themselves through only acidity but are rather balanced, accessible and drinkable.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
There are certainly some experiments that have forced us to dump beer down the drain, but I’m proud that we have ownership that lets us do that when its necessary. Each of those mistakes was an opportunity to learn something new, albeit the hard way.

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