A unique story is brewing in the heart of Wilton that blends heritage, craftsmanship, and a passion for creating exceptional microbrews. Meet the team behind Twelve Gods Brewery: a local trio with a vision to bring change to Wilton’s liquor ordinance and zoning regs, and striving to bring craft beer culture to their community.
Sakis Panolis, co-owner of Twelve Gods works alongside longtime friends Rafael “Ralph” Rodriguez and Demetri Papanikolaou (owner of Orem’s Diner). The team of three synergizes their strengths to turn their shared vision into a reality. With Panolis serving as head brewer, Papanikolaou handles administrative and business functions, while Rodriguez manages branding, marketing, and social media.
“Nectar of the Gods”: Modern Twist to Ancient Mythology
The idea for a brewing company first sparked in 2016, when Panolis and his brother received a common home brewing kit for Christmas. “It was very simple. Although that beer turned out horrible, we just caught the bug after that,” Panolis said.
Born in a small town by the famed Mt. Olympus, Panolis was captivated by ancient mythology and decided to give a modern twist to the concept of “nectar” — in this case, beer. Inspired by Panolis and Papanikolaou’s Greek roots, Rodriguez worked to conceptualize the brewery’s name and visual identity.
“We draw inspiration from the 12 gods and ancient civilizations, where we put a modern and godly twist to our beers, but we also pay homage to the traditions,” Panolis added.
At the core of Twelve Gods Brewery lies an unwavering commitment to preserving traditions while infusing a contemporary spin. Their approach to brewing embraces age-old techniques, with a particular emphasis on local, quality ingredients.
“We try to focus on traditional recipes and styles, but make them the best that they can be made, with the highest quality ingredients,” Papanikolaou said.
The team credits their creativity to their small size and one-barrel system, which allows them to take any style of beer to new heights without risking too much. The result is a distinctive lineup of craft brews, each telling a story and boasting flavors and styles that range from citrus to fruity; lager to pilsner.
Talking technique, Panolis discusses the different ways each beer is crafted, like the triple decoction technique employed for their PLZEŇ Czech style pilsner. This intricate process involves three key resting temperatures: the acid rest, the protein rest, and the saccharification rest. At each rest, the mash is separated by interrupting stirring to wait a few minutes until there is one part “solid” mash for every three parts “liquid” mash.
From Passion Project to Fully Operational Brewery
Twelve Gods Brewery’s journey now faces a pivotal juncture. While the team has mastered the art of brewing and utilizes professional equipment, the brewery is still technically classified as amateur — unable to legally sell its creations. This is where the proposed changes to Wilton’s liquor ordinances and zoning regulations come into play. If passed, these changes hold the key to Twelve Gods Brewery’s evolution from a passion project into a fully operational brewery.
The proposed changes, as outlined in the trio’s letter to the Board of Selectmen, are essential to transform the brewery’s destiny. If the town of Wilton were to allow a brewery permit, the team could then pursue state and federal licenses and bring their crafted beers to a wider audience.
Their aspirations don’t end there. Should the ordinances shift in their favor, Twelve Gods Brewery envisions an expansion, both in terms of brewing capacity and community presence. The team aims to enhance its brewing machinery, enabling larger batches and a diverse array of beers.
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“We want to get a bigger kit with more capacity. And then you know, some sort of tap room where you could come and try then buy our beers. And at some point, expand that taproom into something with full seating — either indoor or outdoor — into a beer garden,” said Panolis.
While challenges such as weather-dependent crops and supply shortages persist in the brewing industry, the Twelve Gods Brewery team remains optimistic. Their determination is mirrored by their engagement with the local community, their involvement in events, and their commitment to offering unique experiences centered around their craft.
This vision is one where tradition, community, and exceptional craft beer converge to create an environment that’s not just about the beer, but about the stories, experiences, and connections it fosters.
“We envision a space that locals can call their own. Where you can come over with your family, sit down, enjoy a beer, any of the other drinks that we offer, and good food under a great atmosphere in town. Our town is missing out on that part, aside from the great restaurants that are here,” Panolis explained.
For those keen to get a taste of Twelve Gods Brewery’s offerings, opportunities do exist. The team invites aspiring brewers and microbrew lovers to join them on Tuesday, Oct. 24, for a beer-making class at the Cannon Grange in Wilton. Engaging through social media, local events, and collaborations, the brewery offers enthusiasts the chance to discover their craft whenever possible.
As the team’s journey unfolds, Twelve Gods Brewery is poised to prove that the ingredients for success aren’t just hops, malt, and yeast, but also passion, heritage, and a shared dream.