967 Main St, Willimantic, CT
Sunday:11:30 AM – 1:00 AM Monday:4:00 PM – 1:00 AM Tuesday:11:30 AM – 1:00 AM Wednesday:11:30 AM – 1:00 AM Thursday:11:30 AM – 1:00 AM Friday:11:30 AM – 2:00 AM Saturday:11:30 AM – 2:00 AM
I I went on Jan 30 2019 at night, in a snowstorm It was a Wednesday.
As the polar vortex shifted, plunging parts of the United States into the reality of Snowpiercer, I braved an unanticipated blizzard to travel to the city of frogs and thread. I have heard good things about Willimantic Brewing Company. It has been on my radar. I’ve noticed it popping up on the Best of Hartford Lists. It certainly deserves the attention. The brewery is broken up into two sections. As you enter the door (which is at the back of the building) you have the option of turning right or left. If you turn right you head down a hall with bathrooms into the taproom. It is a smallish room. I don’t have much to say about it as I wanted food and was meeting a friend there, so I turned left. There is a large restaurant room with seating. High Ceilings, exposed brewery vats behind glass, large lily pads painted on the walls, and tap pulls along the top of wall where the chalk board on tap list was located. It was fun and quirky. The dining hall is family friendly. Despite there literally being a snow squall going on the likes of which The 6th book in the Little House on the Prairie series accurate described a blizzard where Laura and Carrie were trying to get back from school and they couldn’t see 3 feet in front of them and almost wandered between houses out onto the open prairie where they would have been lost and wandering. Yeah… that was the snow squall. It was decently busy for a wednesday night in the middle of a snow squall. It seems to have a large local following. The bathroom was clean and well stocked. They have a fun chalkboard in the lady’s room with colored chalk to use.
Food: They do serve food in the dining room. My friend had a salad with dried cherries and steak cooked medium rare. The salad was good, but the steak was excessively tough. I even had a piece. Do not recommend. It felt that the steak was cut wrong so that it increased the toughness and it was not good at all. I had a the Stonington Sausage platter. It had mashed potatoes, 2 kinds of sausage, sauerkraut, gravy and mustard. It was very good. I was very pleased with my meal. It was a nice hearty meal to eat while drinking beer in the middle of a snow squall.
Atmosphere/vibe: I can’t speak for the tap room as I only poked my head inside, but the restaurant area is comfortable, informal, family friendly, local comfort food type place. It feels like the “go to” place for locals to hang out, eat supper, and drink beer. The decor was fun, interesting, and quirky.
Service: Table service in the restaurant area. The waitress was friendly and nice. She came back frequently to check up on us, but not obtusely. She wasn’t hovery. I really hate hovery waitstaff.
My friend was late because she also was caught in the snow squall and was coming from Massachusetts. I ordered and tasted my flight before she came. When she came I knew what she would want (we have been to many breweries together) and she ordered the Sour which she was very happy with.
Winterfest: The complex malts don’t blend, but layer, pleasantly unfolding. I was dubious to such a variety of malts being used in this red ale, but I give the brewmaster all the credit. This is a delight. I was very pleased with how much complexed and layered flavor they got out of this beer.
Willi Whammer 2017 : (not to be confused with the Willi Whammer 2018 which is a different beer) How do I describe this? Unusual. I really like that they are experimenting with interesting flavors. I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t particularly love it. I would like to try the 2018 version which is slightly different and compare at a future date. I didn’t get the advertised toffee notes, but the treacle came through. It has a strong aftertaste.
Sourfest: While advertized to have hops, it is not a hoppy beer. It strangely has a more malty taste than hoppy. It is crisp, sour, nutty with a really nicely developed cherry flavor that is more cider fruit taste than “pie” fruit taste. The cherry is not too strong or overpowering. There is a citrus flavor on the edges as well as a slightly citrus rind bitterness. It is a really pleasant beer. Like I said before, I know the kinds of beers my friend likes so I ordered that one for her and she was very happy with my choice.
Poor Richard’s: This is an old ale, which I am noticing is becoming distinctly trendy in breweries right now. The molasses comes through. It has a burnt nutty flavor that is not unpleasant. Thick, dark, and unfiltered, this beer is definitely worth trying.
Air Mail: This is a strong ale, which I have also noticed has started to become a bit trendy lately with some experimentation. Sadly, the experimentation in this case involves hopes. I dislike the hops, but they add a complexity without bitterness, very malty. If you like both malty and hoppy flavored beers, this one is the one for you. I distinctly did not like the hops flavor, but I can appreciate the complexity it brought to the beer, just not for me.
I did not try it, but I want to say a shout out to “Cask” festive with Juniper berries. I didn’t try it because I don’t like IPA and this is a double IPA, but I am very very intrigued by the juniper berries. What a flavor combo. I’m tempted to just get a taste if I go again and they have it on tap. I really kinda wanna try it even despite my distaste for Indian Pale Ale.
They only sell growlers and do not have bottles or cans at the brewery.
There is a city parking lot. It is used for several local businesses. I am betting that on a Fri or Sat night it might be hard to find parking. During a snow squall on a Wed night I had no problem finding parking.
Area and safety
The area has a very hometown feel and is well lit.
Overall I highly recommend. This is one of the Ct breweries that you really should not miss.
Why you should go: I think this is one of those important breweries that is doing a lot of things with a lot of different kinds of beer. They have a wide variety of beer and are sure to have something for every preference. The place has a lot of seating in the restaurant in addition to having a tap room. I really liked my sausage platter and was very excited about the interesting things they are doing with beer. I’m actually placing this one on my short list for Ct breweries that you really shouldn’t miss.
What could be improved: Parking might be limited for high traffic days/times. The steak should be avoided. It is tough and unpleasant.