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Food & Drink

Quick Bites: Problem Solved in East Windsor brings an ever-changing beer list with scientific flare

Craft beer and...math?

It might not be an expected pairing, but Problem Solved of East Windsor’s unique charm shows just how well it works.

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“People walk in here and geek out over the names,” says Alan Bukowinski, co-owner of Problem Solved. “They’ll bring them back to a time in high school where they think, ‘Oh, I should remember this, but I don’t.’ Other people just love all the math-related names.”

It’s this binary love of brewing beer and science that connected Bukowinski with head brewer and co-owner Heath Gelinas. They met at a local homebrew shop for a beer appreciation class, giving them both the opportunity to try different styles and learn about their ins and outs. They made sure to stay in touch with brew days and, in time, wanted to open their own brewery.

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“We both settled on Problem Solved because it brought in our day jobs,” says Bukowinski. “Our logo is the light bulb going off moment, too. The ‘Aha!’ moment.”

Brood Brook Brewing and Problem Solved

If you’re unfamiliar with East Windsor, Problem Solved wasn’t the first brewery to take up residence. For years, Broad Brook Brewing, now in Suffield, resided at the same location Problem Solved is at now. They had a following and a footprint in East Windsor and left a noticeable vacancy when they chose to relocate.

For Bukowinski and Gelinas, they saw opportunity.

“I reached out to the landlord and thought it would’ve already been rented,” said Bukowinski. “Turns out, it wasn’t, and it worked out pretty well for us. A lot of the infrastructure–electrical, plumbing–was already here. As was the footprint. We brought in our own equipment and made it our own.”

They didn’t want to be “Broad Brook part two,” as Bukowinski puts it. They changed up the look and feel of the brewery to coincide with a scientific style. They added an adjacent game room for darts, jenga, and more.

Most of all, you’ll find they focus on an ever-rotating beer menu.

No style of beer left untapped

“When you visit,” says Bukowinski, “you won’t likely see the same tap list from a couple months ago.”

There’s always a balance of beers to find at Problem Solved. You’ll have a few lighter beers, like a kölsch, wheat ale, or easy-drinking lager. There will be a few darker options, too, whether its a black lager, brown ale, or stout. You’ll probably find one or two fruited sours, along with some juicy IPAs for the New England-style lovers.

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There’s never a shortage of selection, nor one style trumping the rest. It speaks to the talent of Gelinas and a willingness to explore every facet of beer.

“Each style has its own steps to it,” says Gelinas. “Mash, boil, cooldown, ferment. IPAs have a few extra steps, like with dry-hopping and whirlpool-hopping. More steps compared to a kölsch.”

There’s also the time it takes to brew and the steps involved, all of which vary depending on the beer: “Brew days can be anywhere from 6-7 hours to 13-14 hours, especially when you get to some of the bigger beers that need a longer boil. On the fermentation side, it can take 2-3 weeks up to a couple months to let them age out a bit. We have our Anniversary coming up in October and we have a large beer on the way.”

Brewing, much like baking, uses a whole lot of science at the end of the day. It’s why Gelinas’s mechanical engineering background, along with Bukowski’s experience as a math teacher, has come in handy, giving them the knowledge to make processes faster and cut down on time where they can.

It’s why their beer is so delicious, too.

Weathering the pandemic and continued success

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Few businesses didn’t face their share of struggles with the pandemic. Just as Problem Solved had opened up their new gaming space and looked forward to the future, COVID-19 through a wrench into their plans.

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“80% of our beer sales at the start of the pandemic were from in-house,” says Bukowinksi. “Once that started, you couldn’t have a beer here. We had to change our business model.”

Everything switched to takeout. Customers placed their orders online before driving to the brewery and picking up their haul.

“There was a huge aluminum shortage, too,” says Gelinas. “We used to only do 32 oz. crowlers. We had to pivot to a 16 oz. model because we couldn’t find crowlers anymore. We had to find a supplier for cans and the equipment to do the canning.”

Along with a couple rounds of PPP loans and an incredible showing of support from their community, Problem Solved kept their doors open and weathered the storm. They still have got a ways to go, as Bukowinski says, but they plan on serving up more unique beers with the same quirky names they always have.

“We’re right off I-91 and next to Route 5.”

Stop on by and grab yourself a pint!


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