What Do Brewmasters Have in Common?

Scott Vallely

Scott Vallely of Charter Oak Brewing Co.

So, what do brewmasters have in common? Well, the first requirement to becoming a brewmaster is the ability to give a speech and respond to questions from the audience while simultaneously drinking a cold beer. Everything else thereafter is serious business.

Last Wednesday I had the good fortune to spend time with two of Connecticut’s own brewmaster superstars at the Stamford Innovation Center in Stamford, Connecticut.  I met Scott Vallely of Charter Oak Brewing Co. and Conor Horrigan of Half Full Brewery. These are two men with blood rich of fortitude and passion. They are unstoppable on their quest to quench the thirst of craft beer fans near and far. In fact they’re so driven with so much positive energy and enthusiasm, I can’t help but want to enjoy their beer all the time.

The hypnosis began as I entered the room where the brewmasters stood. They towered like giants protecting their harbors which were filled with ships of greatness. Like a pirate lusting for treasures I couldn’t help but fixate my eyes on the cold ones peeking from the waters below. I grabbed a glass and filled it with the latest and freshest craft beer Connecticut has to offer. It was bliss. I was speechless. It was perfect.

Scott and Conor both talked a little bit about their journey to the craft brewery business. Both agree that it’s not as easy as make a great beer and they will come. No, it’s all about pushing on and building awareness. A typical workweek is usually all seven days and even nights if an opportunity presents itself. It’s a continuation of educating the customers through tastings, events, onsite brewery tours, or anything else that comes to mind.


Scott Vallely began by brewing in his basement. These days he’s brewing small batches up in Massachusetts each week, but soon will have a flagship brewery open at a very cool spot in Southern Norwalk, aka SONO. He has over 60 recipes and is excited to introduce them all. With the new brewery he can introduce one new recipe a month and really start to cater to the niche craft beer market. He’s all about high quality and freshness when in comes to brewing to drinking. In fact one of his newest editions was so fresh it wasn’t completely ready yet and still had a couple of days to go in the fermentation process. Still, I was very excited to try it, but it went so fast that I guess I’ll have to wait until it hits the local shelves. He also produces 22oz limited editions such as, “Lights Out Stout” which I’m drinking while I write this.

Conor Horrigan
Conor Horrigan of Half Full Brewery

Conor Horrigan started his journey in college when he got bit by the entrepreneurial bug. He started a painting company one summer during break and painted houses on Cape Cod. Although this eventually ended it never really did leave him. He new the bug bit hard and the entrepreneurial virus lived dormant waiting patiently to become active again. That day came after many hours spent basking in ideas and bouncing them off his friends at the Spring Lounge in Manhattan. He was working in finance on the investment banking side at the time. He wasn’t feeling fulfilled with the life work choice he made. So one day he went from Bear Sterns to just Beer. He started off by educating himself on how to brew beer. He continually experimented with a brew at home kit and even went to work at a brewery to learn the nuances and true craft behind the art. While his education in beer was developing he studied at UConn for an MBA. It’s only been a little under three years since the first batch of Half Full Beer hit the streets and it’s growing fast. IMG_20150422_214904-2-2

I don’t want to work for the man, I want to be the man. Life is short, so beer is the answer. Conor Horrigan, Chief Beer Philosopher

Connecticut alone has over 20 breweries. It’s clear the pursuit of creativity and uniqueness in the craft beer industry is flourishing, but to stand out from the rest you have to shine like a superstar and these guys really know how to shine.

To find out more about Charter Oak Brewing Company and Half Full Brewery visit their websites and be sure to follow them on Twitter @CharterOakBeer and @HalfFullBrewery.

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Five Reasons Why You Should Attend a Mastermind Dinner

Mastermind Dinners are a perfect way to start getting connected. Jayson Gaignard author of the book, “Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins”, tells his story of how getting connected changed his life for the better and invited success into his life in ways you could only imagine. His book is packed with step by step details and invaluable tips to create your own successful Mastermind Dinners. The following are five reasons why you should attend a Mastermind Dinner or host one yourself.
1. Build a Tribe: Unless you’re a troll living under a bridge and don’t like people, it’s always refreshing to meet new people. The most memorable times of my life were the minutes and seconds I spent with others. Although I am somewhat of a loner and like my solitude, I truly enjoy time well spent with others. Now add the excitement of engaging with new minds…and new ideas…and fresh concepts. This is what happens at a Mastermind Dinner. We are meant to grow as a tribe. Tribes connect and feed off each other. The phrase, “Survival of the fittest” should be called, “Survival of the fittest tribe.” For a deeper understanding about tribes and how they fit into the world today read, “Tribes” by Seth Godin.

2. Learn what you don’t know: We have all learned something. We believe we can just Google it and all our questions will be answered. This may be true for many of the times, but it’s not always going to be that simple. To get to the great stuff in life sometimes a great amount of hard work needs to be done. That’s good right? Because if it was easy everyone would do it. This is where the power of the tribe with its synergistic energy can help to solve those issues, get past those road blocks and break through those barriers.

3. Practice being a Master: I recently finished reading a book called, “Mastery” by Robert Greene. This book walked me through the lives of amazing individuals who became masters of their craft. He touches on habits, behaviors, and the internal drive of these amazing people. Becoming a Master is a walk that never ends. There is no completion or finish line. There is no final course or capstone. There is no solving of the puzzle or reaching the final level. Mastery is a way of life. It’s about continuing and not trying to correct along the way. Don’t even try to correct before you begin. Just begin and continue. Mastery is about doing what’s next instead of spending too much time thinking about what happened and basking in the mistakes, because mistakes are the most important part of becoming a Master. Without mistakes mastery would not exist.

4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable: There will always be a time in your life when you have to do something you don’t want to do. We visualize over and over what could go right and what could go wrong. The easy way to deal with this is to push forward and proceed with confidence and be rather than been. Fear is fuel for the great and will spark a fire to greatness. Bring all your fears and challenge yourself at your next Mastermind Dinner. Check out, “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday to peel back more layers on this topic.

5. Get Refreshed: Spending a few hours with interesting people with amazing stories and incredible ideas is a perfect way to get refreshed. Working hard is only part of the story. We also need time to play. Many would say that play is critical to success in one’s life. I’ve often felt my best and performed most optimally when I incorporated play into my life. It’s as important or perhaps more important than anything else for success and well being. To dig deeper into the whole play philosophy read, “Play it Away” by Charlie Hoehn.

Interested in creating your own “Mastermind Dinner” go to Eventbrite and make it happen!