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'Todd's CT Pour Tour' Makes a Stop at Tavern

Todd Ruggere, 39, stopped in Monroe Friday, along a beer drinking tour to every Connecticut town, while raising money for cancer research.

Todd Ruggere stands by his Chevy Equinox.
Todd Ruggere stands by his Chevy Equinox.
Todd Ruggere, 39, was pulled over by a police officer in Vernon last month, while driving his yellow Chevy Equinox, which has a caricature of himself holding a beer painted on the side along with the words: "Todd's CT Pour Tour".

Telling the story of his run in with the law over beers at Tavern, 262 Main Street in Monroe, Friday, Ruggere shared his exchange with the officer. "He saw my fliers and he said, 'Oh, when are you going to Vernon?' He said, 'Slow down. I don't want you to miss your beer.'"

Ruggere, who hails from Grafton, Mass., has the ambitious goal of having a beer at all 169 of Connecticut's towns and cities as part of a fundraiser for cancer research. Last Year, he completed a similar tour through 301 towns and 50 cities in Massachusetts. It took him nine months and he raised $43,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

"I always wanted to raise money for cancer and one day I was trying to list all the towns in Massachusetts," Ruggere recalled. "I realized how much I don't know, so I wanted to learn all the towns and raise money for cancer research."

Ruggere said it wasn't a tragic loss of a loved one that inspired him, it was seeing commercials of children battling cancer.

But why a beer at every stop?

"I think it's the most popular thing," he said. "Everyone loves beer."

Connecticut Brews

Ruggere is early in his Connecticut tour, having visited Stratford, South Windsor, Hartford, Woodstock and Berlin before coming to Monroe on Friday afternoon.

Baymont Inn in Manchester and Two Roads Brewing Co. in Stratford are sponsoring Ruggere. He stays at the inn as a central location in Connecticut and has Two Roads painted on the hood of his Chevy.

While in Stratford, Ruggere visited Two Roads Brewing Co. "I hooked up with Two Roads a couple months ago. People told me about it. It's an awesome, huge brewery with wicked nice people."

He said he'll order Two Roads' beers at places that have it. At Tavern, Ruggere washed down his Swiss cheese burger and fries with a glass of a Thomas Hooker brew.

"I'm trying to only drink Connecticut beer," he said of the tour, adding for the Massachusetts tour he found himself mostly drinking Samuel Adams.

In keeping with the local theme, Ruggere wore a green Hartford Whalers cap Friday.

'Everyone Was Naked'

Ruggere brings a yellow ball to each stop with the names of every town in the State written on it. Bar patrons often have fun trying to find their own town.

Towns often have different sections. For instance, Monroe has Stevenson and Stepney. Ruggere marvels at how so many people he's met along his travels believe the sections are actually towns in themselves — and get angry when it's not written on the ball.

"I tell them it's not a town," Ruggere said. "I'm shocked."

Ruggere also brings a pink ball with him. Bar staff use a marker to sign the name of their place onto it. Bartender, Melanie Petrella, did the honors for Tavern.

Ruggere will also use colorful markers to write the name of the town in his drawing pad and one or two words to describe it. For Monroe, he jotted down "Panthers".

Not every town has a place to drink. For instance, Ruggere said Bridgewater is the only dry town in Connecticut. In those communities — and at a few others — Ruggere will stop by someone's home for a beer. He said bar owners and citizens who follow his journey on his website, Facebook and Twitter pages often send him an invitation.

"I'm going to a girl's house in Bethel and to a farm in Easton," Ruggere said of his Connecticut tour.

One time last year, Ruggere was invited to have a beer at a nudist colony in a small town in the Berkshires.

"I went because I thought it would be fun for my project," he recalled. "It was all old people — No hot chicks. Everyone was naked, playing horseshoes and tennis like it was nothing. It was weird. I was actually there for a few hours."

A Mayor's Welcome

Some of Ruggere's visits are planned as big fundraising events ahead of time with raffle prizes and donations. Other times, he quietly drops into a place, has a beer, then writes the name of the town into his pad before talking a selfie with his cell phone.

Ruggere said he's stopped at as many as 10 towns in one day when someone drives him. On Saturday, he plans to take a bus tour of Branford, Woodbridge, Wolcott, Wallingford and Milford.

Ruggere, a father of one and a financial advisor for a mutual fund company, has gained some celebrity from the publicity his "Pour Tours" have gotten him.

Ruggere said a town employee in Wolcott told him the mayor, Thomas G. Dunn, is planning to welcome him to town when he visits Shebeen Brewing Co. He also said most of the bars — including Tavern — don't charge him for his beer.

Several Connecticut bars have been calling Ruggere to invite him there and he said it's hard to say no when he gets calls from several places in the same town.

He also gets hundreds of emails, Facebook and Twitter messages from fans following his tour. Ruggere recalls a time when he was getting a haircut and the hairdresser said, "Oh, you're the guy who's drinking a beer in every town."

Through his experiences, Ruggere said he's enjoyed stops at towns like Monroe most of all.

"To me, the towns are much better than the cities," he said. "It's nicer to drive through and the parking isn't a problem."

To follow the CT Pour Tour on Facebook, click on this link or visit the website, CTPourTour.com.

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