The second annual Last Taste of Summer craft beer festival benefited from warm temps and sunshine on Saturday following a week of very heavy rain.
The festival featured live music and numerous food trucks, with samplings from over 30 of Connecticut’s finest craft breweries and distilleries including Asylum Distillery, Bad Son’s Brewery, Charter Oak, Down The Road Beer Company, Fairfield Craft Ales, Guinness, Long Drink, Owl’s Brew, Nebco, New Belgium, New England Brewing Company, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Stony Creek, The Finnish Long, Tito’s White Claw Hard Seltzer and wine from Oyster Bay.
Proceeds of the festival went to Live Green CT! ’s Start In Your Own Front Yard Program that helps to prevent plastic from getting into the ocean.
Specifically the program integrates the global sustainable development goals from the Paris Climate Conference into local projects.
“Today we are showing a good example of how to manage plastic in a responsible way,” said Daphne Dixon of Live Green, who partnered with Scot Weicker to organize the event. “And we’re working with ShopRite to take care of the plastic in a responsible way.”
Dixon said all contaminated paper cups and other litter were separated from recyclable items at the event.
Dominick Cingari of ShopRite said his company would take back all the plastic wrap from the event and recycle it.
“We’ll take it all back and run it through our WRAP program,” Cingari said.
WRAP is an acronym for Wrap Recycling Action Program. By law, the sample cups for beer tasting arrived wrapped in plastic to keep them sanitary.
While Greenwich’s plastic bag ordinance banned plastic bags from retail establishments and restaurants as of Sept 12, there is no ban in Stamford.
Still, ShopRite, located just over the town line in Stamford, has their own recycling facility in New Jersey, which has operated since the 1980s.
“We don’t have to go outside for most of our recycling because we do it all in house, including all those yellow plastic bags,” Cingari said, referring to plastic bags customers can return to the store after use.
ShopRite assembles all the returned yellow plastic bags into 2,000 bails and sends them to their recycling center. From there they’re sent to Trex to be made into decking.
In addition to grocery bags, Trex incorporates bread bags, case overwrap, dry cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, ice bags, wood pellet bags, ziplock and other re-sealable bags, produce bags, bubble wrap, salt bags, and cereal bags into their decking – as long as materials are clean, dry and free of food residue.
“Our goal is to recycle everything,” Cingari said. “We recycle shrink wrap on cases and anything that comes in wrapped in plastic. We also compost.”
“There’s a lot they’re doing that they don’t have to do,” Dixon said of ShopRite. “And sometimes it’s more expensive. They do it because it’s the right thing.”
In addition to plastic recycling, ShopRite, which has four stores in the area, donates food to homeless shelters like Pacific House and also to the Lower Fairfield County Food Bank.
What can’t be donated for human consumption is either composted or donated for animal feed.
Also, he said ShopRite gives away about 80,000 reusable bags a year, including at local events like the Last Taste of Summer. Also, for four years in a row, they have given away coupons for free reusable bags on Earth Day.
While all this is good, Cingari said Stamford’s Board of Representatives will vote this week on a citywide ban on plastic shopping bags. We’ll update this story if Stamford passes a plastic bag ban ordinance.
Another partner in the event was, Junkluggers who offer full service junk removal offices and businesses, retail locations, construction sites and more.
Asylum Distillery is the first craft distiller in Fairfield County, and specifically Bridgeport, since Prohibition.
“We use 100% Connecticut Non-GMO corn in all of our products making them Gluten-Free,” said Bridget Schulten who was sampling varieties including Simply Celery and Ginger Zap in the VIP tent.
“Our products include award-winning Gin, Vodka, Ginger Zap Vodka, Cinnamon Zap Vodka, Connecticut Maple Whiskey, Fifth State Whiskey and Moonshine,” Schulten explained. “Our team is passionate about bringing you unique local spirits with bold flavors, meant for sharing with friends and family. Our credo is ‘Distilling the Spirit of Connecticut.'”
Carrie and Mark Greenwald of Maher & Greenwald Inc fine gardens, design and installation were on hand with photos of beautiful gardens they designed in Greenwich. The spoke of the importance of pollinator pathways. (See also: Greenwich’s First “Pollinator Pathway” Connects Natural Areas along North Street).