When you’re a toxicologist by training and you and your buddies like beer, what’s the logical next step?
For Dayne Laskey, ’11 (Pharm.D.) the idea of opening a brewery first occurred to him one day in November 2015 when he and his childhood friend Mike Zaccaro ’09 (CLAS), along with their pal Jon Ahlcrona ’08 (CLAS) were engaged in some home brewing of their own. This past weekend, the three friends realized a dream. On Saturday, April 6th— just in time for #NationalBeerDay on the 7th’ — they opened the doors to Tox Brewery in New London, Conn.
In his ‘day job,’Laskey, teaches clinical toxicology as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy at the University of St. Joseph. He also works in the emergency department at Hartford Hospital. He and Zaccaro are partners in New London’s only taproom, while Ahlcrona supplies expertise as ‘brewing mentor’ in his role as operations manager.
With Laskey’s educational background, which includes an ASHP-accredited pharmacy practice residency at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, followed by a clinical toxicology post-doctoral fellowship with the Georgia Poison Center, it’s no wonder that the names of the brews on tap have a somewhat sinister tone. Among them are Placebo Effect, Deadly Nightshade, Belladonna, Angel Wings, and Citra Pollen – and there are more to come.
Laskey describes it this way, “My partner Mike and I have been best friends for most of our lives. We used to play in a band during our UConn days (The Supertones) and were several time winners of the annual SUBOG battle of the bands! We also began brewing back then. Given my passion for poisons and antidotes, I started naming our beers after poisonous plants, animals, and fungus. And so Tox was born!”
The friends describe themselves as ‘beer nerds’ and ‘curiosity-filled explorers’ and while the path from conception to opening the brewery took some time, the hurdles they encountered never dulled their enthusiasm. Their joint love of the science and artistic process of creating the perfect beer for every occasion was aided by a Kickstarter campaign in November that raised nearly $30,000 to help them realize their dream.
“We envisioned a steampunk mad science themed taproom with diverse beer offerings. We signed our lease a year ago and have been working night and day, building everything possible ourselves, to make this happen. As we began brewing on our system earlier this year, we were extremely picky and dumped batch after batch (over 750 gallons) down the drain when we felt they were not perfect. The result was an opening day with nine unique offerings that we love and are proud of,” Laskey says.
Currently, Tox Brewery is open on Saturdays and Sundays only, but plans are in the works to be open on Fridays in the future. As part of its 1881 series, UConn Alumni will have a special event at Tox on May 19thwhere a unique beer will be crafted for one day only — just for members of UConn Nation.
Since all three of the Tox principles are married to UConn graduates — Laskey is married to Corey (formerly Scheer, BS ’09, PharmD ’11); Zaccaro is married to Lily (formerly Huang, BS ’11, MS ‘12); Ahlcrona is married to Amanda (formerly Moulton, BS ’08, Masters ’13) – the May event is already assured of a strong alumni presence!