Food & Drink

The Breweries Of Connecticut

If it seems like a new brewery opens in Connecticut every week, that's not far off — the state's beer scene continues to grow at a rapid clip, with nearly 50 operational breweries and dozens more in planning and development. We're planning to tell the stories behind these local breweries and what you'll find when you visit: core beers, specialty brews and sought-after releases; tasting room amenities, food trucks, special events and more.

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Come for the Suzy Greenberg mango IPA, but stay for the games at Back East's taproom.

Back East Brewing: Renown For Its IPA Standouts

  • 1296 Blue Hills Ave
  • Bloomfield
  • 860-242-1793
  • Website
  • Thu, Fri: 4-8pm
  • Sat: noon-4pm
  • 1296 Blue Hills Ave, Bloomfield, 860-242-1793, Website
  • Thu, Fri: 4-8pm, Sat: noon-4pm

When DRAFT magazine released its list of America's 50 best IPAs in late June, the rankings included predictable favorites, like Cigar City's Jai Alai out of Tampa and the top-rated Julius from Tree House Brewing in Charlton, Mass. But of the featured standouts across the country, only one brewery's name showed up three times in the top 25. The judges, including certified cicerones, worked their way through a blind taste test of 386 submitted samples and chose three IPAs from Bloomfield's Back East Brewing. They ranked its Rakautra India wheat ale at No. 21, followed by the Galaxy-hopped Intergalactic Lupulinary at No. 16 and Ice Cream Man, with 100 percent Citra hops, at No. 5. "Let's take a second to marvel at Back East, for of all the breweries who were part of this tasting, they alone had three beers make our top 50," DRAFT editors wrote. "And those were the only three beers they sent! In sports, they call that 'batting a thousand.'" More ...

Google Map of 41.855074,-72.705084

The brewery’s name refers to the city of Waterbury’s motto, “Quid Aere Perennius,” which translates to “What Is More Lasting Than Brass?”

Newcomer Lasting Brass Brewing Already Making Its Mark

  • 20 Main St
  • Oakville
  • 860-417-2581
  • Website
  • Fri: 3-7pm, Sat: noon-7pm
  • Sun: noon-4pm
  • 20 Main St, Oakville, 860-417-2581, Website
  • Fri: 3-7pm, Sat: noon-7pm, Sun: noon-4pm

Ed Silva's beer-making journey began on his 25th birthday, when his wife bought him a home brewing kit. More than a dozen years later in December 2016, the lifelong Waterbury native would open Lasting Brass Brewing in the historic Old Pin Shop building on the Waterbury/Oakville border. "I kept educating myself on how to make better beer, the science behind it," Silva says. "Still, to this day, I'm learning things." The brewery's name refers to the city of Waterbury's motto, "Quid Aere Perennius," which translates to "What Is More Lasting Than Brass?" But Silva says it also pays homage to the brewers and breweries that have come before him. More ...

Google Map of 41.586796,-73.0826688

The Van Art gose, made with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and pink Himalayan salt, has been a popular summer sour.

Counter Weight Brewing: From The Nuanced To Big And Bold

  • 23 Rarccio Park Rd
  • Hamden
  • 203-821-7333
  • Website
  • Fri: 3-9pm, Sat: noon-8pm
  • Sun: noon-5pm
  • 23 Rarccio Park Rd, Hamden, 203-821-7333, Website
  • Fri: 3-9pm, Sat: noon-8pm, Sun: noon-5pm

If you recognize the beer names Sea Hag, G-Bot and Fuzzy Baby Ducks, you're likely familiar with Matt Westfall's career. During his decade-long tenure with New England Brewing Company, Westfall served as part owner and head brewer of the Woodbridge brewery, watching its popularity skyrocket in recent years thanks in part to demand for those highly rated IPAs. Last summer, Westfall began working toward a new goal — opening his own brewery. When he joined New England Brewing in 2006, choosing the job in Connecticut over an internship offer from Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewing, the company had been operational for about four years. "I wanted to do one more thing, from the ground up," he says. The Bristol native left his position in early October and began planning what would become Counter Weight Brewing in Hamden. Less than six months later, in late March, the brewery opened its doors. "We were able to do it pretty quickly, as a result of lots of wonderfully generous people doing me a lot of favors," he says. More ...

Google Map of 41.3919028,-72.9171201

New Park's Calyx IPA, with 6.2 percent ABV, is one of six beers on tap at the New Park’s tasting room.

'Everyone Seems Happy' At New Park Brewing

  • 485 New Park Ave
  • West Hartford
  • 860-232-2033
  • Website
  • Thurs: 5-9pm, Fri: 5-10pm
  • Sat: 12-10pm, Sun: 12-5pm
  • 485 New Park Ave, West Hartford, 860-232-2033, Website
  • Thurs: 5-9pm, Fri: 5-10pm, Sat: 12-10pm, Sun: 12-5pm

New Park Brewing, West Hartford's first craft brewery, sold so much beer during its March opening weekend that the owners had to close for two weeks to catch up on production. "It was a great problem to have, for sure," says John Doyle, a co-founder along with Tom Atkins and head brewer Alex Dee. They began planning the brewery three years ago, generating buzz by offering samples at friends' parties, beer festivals and local events. "We were hopeful that things would take off well, but I was pretty blown away by the response." More ...

Google Map of 41.7410382,-72.7189604

OEC specializes in sour and wild ales, in which wild yeast or bacteria is intentionally introduced or allowed to inoculate the beer.

Creating Sour and Wild Ales For Adventurous Taste Buds

  • 7 Fox Hollow Road
  • Oxford
  • 203-295-2831
  • Website
  • Sat: 12-7pm
  • Tue: 4-8pm (only last Tue each month)
  • 7 Fox Hollow Road, Oxford, 203-295-2831, Website
  • Sat: 12-7pm, Tue: 4-8pm (only last Tue each month)

OEC Brewing's team understands that tart, acidic and funky sour beers may not be for everyone. Even assistant brewer Tony Pellino admits he didn't fall in love with the style at first taste. "The first time I ever had a sour beer, I hated it. And now I've dedicated my entire life to them," he said. "If you've never had one, chances are you're not going to love your first sour. You need to have a few tastes and come back." OEC, or Ordinem Ecentrici Coctores (Order of the Eccentric Boilers, in grammatically incorrect Latin) just celebrated its third anniversary in Oxford. The brewery was founded in 2014 by Ben Neidhart, in connection with its sister company, international beverage importer B United. Neidhart, his wife Jie Yu, brewers Pellino and Dave Linari, and cellarmaster Clark Johnson make up OEC's core team. More ...

Google Map of 41.473006,-73.121122

Black Hog offers "super flights" - a muffin tin filled with all 12 beers on tap in their tasting room. The flight was also a popular Groupon deal that came with a souvenir glass.

Beer Born With A Culinary Pedigree

  • 9A, 115 Hurley Rd
  • Oxford
  • 203-262-6075
  • Website
  • Thu: 4-8pm, Fri: 2-8pm
  • Sat: 1-8pm, Sun: 1-5pm
  • 9A, 115 Hurley Rd, Oxford, 203-262-6075, Website
  • Thu: 4-8pm, Fri: 2-8pm, Sat: 1-8pm, Sun: 1-5pm

Naturally, when cheese experts open a brewery, the beers' tasting notes include a suggested cheese pairing. At Black Hog Brewing in Oxford, co-founders Jason Sobocinski, Tom Sobocinski and Tyler Jones let their gastronomic interests drive their creations, from year-round core offerings to wild experimental ales. "They're food beers, because we're all culinary guys," Jason says. Jason's expertise in cheese is well-documented as the owner of Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro in New Haven. He says he became interested in beer, more than wine, while working at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, Mass. More ...

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