When Thomas Hooker Brewing Company President Curt Cameron heard that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration wanted to talk to him, he assumed he was about to be reprimanded over a silly advertisement the company ran using Malloy’s image holding a pale ale to promote its open house.
But the governor apparently got a kick out of the ad, which featured him with a comic book-style dialogue balloon saying, “taxes are going up, but Hooker beer still goes down smooth.”
The tour of the newly renovated brewery was in keeping with Malloy’s goal to tour Connecticut businesses both large and small.
The state is filled with entrepreneurial small businesses and over the next 20 years they will become increasingly important to the state’s economy, he said.
“Listen, I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can as a state to help them,” he said.
The brewery seems to be reaching out in some entrepreneurial directions, too. Cameron said he found a significant profit stream in offering to host events at the brewery.
Despite no advertising, the building now doubles as an event venue about 10 times a week, he said. Businesses and organizations like to try something different than the usual hotel or restaurant meetings and the idea has just spread word-of-mouth, he said.
The success has the business looking to hire more people. Currently the brewery employs nine full-time employees and eight part-timers but Cameron said he’s looking to hire around five more. One of them would focus exclusively on organizing the events, he said.
So far, Cameron said he’s happy with the governor’s performance and willingness to make tough choices and cut expenses.
“As long as he reigns in some of the expenses, I don’t mind paying my fair share,” he said.
He said that Malloy’s proposal to raise the tax on alcohol wouldn’t directly impact his business and noted that the alcohol excise tax is actually about to be cut in half for small breweries like his. And that may equate to more jobs, he said.
“If I can take that money and hire another person, I sure will,” he said.
But the tour wasn’t all talk of business and taxes. Malloy sampled a few of the beers and joked around with Cameron and his staff.
At one point he tried his hand at brewery marketing director, recommending they name one beer “Red Stripe Rip-off.” Later he asked about growlers, large bottles that can be purchased and then brought back to be refilled at a reduced price.
“So basically people drink this because it’s good for the environment,” Malloy said after it was explained to him.
He also told Cameron that his Chief of Staff Tim Bannon swears by Hooker’s summer brew.
Cameron told Malloy that goofy ads like the one featuring him have been pretty successful in attracting attention to the Friday night open house. When they’re funny, they sometimes go viral on the internet, he said. A portion of the proceeds from the open house go to The Village for Families and Children.
And while Malloy seemed amused by the ad, he wasted no time giving it back to Cameron.
“The word hooker has a lot of different meanings, you know,” Malloy told him as he walked in the door.
After Cameron explained that he hears a lot of hooker jokes, Malloy said he was only talking about rugby.
“But your mind instantly went there,” he said.