Wilton’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) has received a letter from three owners of Twelve Gods Brewery (including Demetrius Papanikolaou, who also owns Orem’s Diner) who want to see Wilton embrace the craft beer trend.

The trio wrote,

Craft breweries have experienced tremendous growth and popularity in recent years, serving as both producers of high-quality beverages and vibrant gathering places for residents and visitors alike and we believe that our town has an opportunity to join the communities across the nation that have embraced the growth of craft breweries and the cultural, economic, and social benefits they bring.” 

The Twelve Gods team went on to ask the selectmen to consider a change to Wilton’s liquor ordinance, which currently allows the sale of alcohol under country club, restaurant and liquor stores permits. Since a brewery would not fall under any of those classifications, Twelve Gods is seeking:

  • a change to the Town’s liquor ordinance that would permit the sale of alcohol under a brewery permit
  • an amendment in Wilton’s zoning regulations to allow such a brewery — as defined by Connecticut statutes as a manufacturer of beer — under a special permit in General Business District zones

“It is time for Wilton to join the rest of the state and become a part of this popular and growing industry and allow for the manufacture and sale of craft-brewed beverages in town,” the Twelve Gods team wrote.

The letter did not cite specific plans or a location the company might have in mind.

The selectmen discussed the letter at a special meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice revealed that she, Town Administrator Matt Knickerbocker, and Town Planner Michael Wrinn had met with the company several months ago. At that time, she said, the company had only expressed interested in manufacturing and retail sales, with some tastings.

Vanderslice acknowledged the letter raised numerous questions about the nuances of what might be allowed or not allowed under any proposed changes, such as a “beer garden” or venue like Nod Hill Brewing in Ridgefield.

The selectmen seemed receptive to considering the ideas presented by Twelve Gods. Town counsel is expected to appear at the next BOS meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6 to further discuss the topic and the implications for proceeding with any changes to the Town ordinance.

Public hearings will take place if the BOS considers changing the liquor ordinance and if the Planning and Zoning Commission entertains the brewery special permit amendment.

A “Brewpub” Already In Progress

P&Z has already shown some willingness to bring craft beer to Wilton.

In 2021, P&Z approved a text amendment to Wilton regulations that specifically defined a “brewpub,” giving the green light for a new establishment at 4 Danbury Rd. in South Wilton. It is currently under construction.

The two-story building will house a craft brewery production area on the first floor, and a “brewpub” restaurant on the second floor.

The text amendment that made the South Wilton brewpub possible would not apply in the case of Twelve Gods because it only applies to restaurants.