365 John Downey Dr b, New Britain, CT 06051
Hours: Wed/Thurs 4-10 Fri 4-11 Sat 12-11 Sun 12-7
I went on a Wednesday in late February. It was very busy for a midweek night. The weather was cold. There were some clumps of snow on the ground, but none on the street or parking lot. Alvarium, defined, means bee hive. They definitely have a beehive, or hex design theme going on. I kinda wanted to see them experiment with honey beer, but sadly I didn’t see much of that. Feels like with a name like Alvarium there needs to be a signature honey beer on tap, but that’s just my opinion. (if you are listening Alvarium my opinion is obviously the most important, so get on that…) I loved the hex honeycomb lights hanging from the ceiling. Generally I found the whole theme fun.
Food trucks are often there are weekends. I was there on a Wed, so there wasn’t a food truck.
It had a hopping (see what I did there) atmosphere. They had a paint night going on. They tap room is in loosely 3 open floor plan sections. The first, when you walk into the taproom, is a large area with long tables. This was where they were having the paint night. There is a very long bar area, then some very comfy couches. The staff are very friendly. It feels like a very inviting local hangout where you go with your friends and to make new ones. Out back there is a great outdoor seating area that was completely covered in snow, but in the summer has promise to be a great space!
The bathrooms were single non-gendered bathrooms. There were two of them. They were not tidy, but not dirty. They were well stocked.
They offer very select cans, and they fill growlers. I think the only thing they offer in cans is IPA.
Service: Taylor was nice. She was a bartender. She had quick answers to questions and knew what she was talking about.
We talked to Brian Bugnacki. He is one of the owners. He showed us the cold room and told us about the new beers they were developing and how they designed the cold room and the brewery. Brian was great and it was so interesting to see all the specialization they have done to their cold room.
So, let’s talk about their beer. I was very impressed by the variety, quality, and number of beers offered. They offer a wide range options from very light IPAs to stouts. They don’t just offer the predictable selections, but they have impressive creative range.
Tangerine Pale Ale: As it is perfectly clear to anyone who has read this blog, I do not like IPA. I didn’t order this one for myself. I went with someone. He ordered it and I tried it. I found it obviously hoppy, but not too much. It was mild. There was a bitter citrus. It wasn’t terrible (and that means a lot coming from me). I’m not saying I loved it, but for an IPA I could drink it.
Ripe Pomegranate Sour: This one was great. I really liked it. It was not too tart, more cidery. There was a pleasant cidery after taste. It was crisp and bubbly on the tongue. The pomegranate is not a strong flavor, but the overall beer is delicious and very drinkable.
Crunch Roll Japanese Rice Lager: I was super excited to try this beer. When I saw it on the tap list I was instantly intrigued. It has a distinct acidic flavor, but hard liquor aftertaste. I was getting some interesting flavors maybe honey maybe lemongrass? There was some bitterness on the back of the swallow. I liked the beer. It was very different, interesting, and I liked the oddness. It made my mouth think.
Griff Vienna Lager: It was very nutty. It had a full body and was smooth very smooth. I liked it a LOT I usually like Lagers fine, but aren’t overly excited about them. This one changed my mind on Lagers. I loved how smooth and nutty it was. A Sheer delight! I would say this was my favorite of my flight.
Pug Life Coffee Porter: So I’m not a huge fan of it. I don’t like adding coffee to my dark beers. (I’m not the only one either I’ve been to a lot of breweries and it is, in fact, a trend when talking to people. There are those who like it, but there are generally more that don’t.) Back to Pug Life. It had a milder coffee flavor. There were notes of Chicory, but not strong. It was nutty. It advertised coco nubs, but I got not of chocolate flavor out of it. Overall, it was a standard inoffensive but uninspired coffee porter. I would have been much more interested in them leaving the coffee out and going all chips in with the chicory flavors. That would have been very intriguing.
The Hoff an Imperial Porter: I do like the name. I love fun names of beers. I’m a sucker for them. So they advertised coconut. It has coconut in spades, but a creamy coconut. I found it a bit too sweet, like they put some kind of concentrate in it, but a bit too much. Chocolate coconut is the after taste that that stays hovering in your mouth. Coconut is also the forward tasted. I wish more malts came through. Overall it isn’t a bad beer, especially if you love coconut.
Parking: There is plenty of parking. Especially at night when the other businesses are closed.
The area is not one you should walk to. It is on a main road without sidewalks. The parking lot was lit and seemed fine, but it is not a “walk to” venue.
Overall: I liked the place a lot. OK, so not while I was there, but seems like the peeps at Alvarium have got a honey IPA on tap right now (as in not necessarily when you read this, but when I write this. In case it was in any way confusing to the populus). It is called Honey Shot. It is a double IPA. Blah. They need some honey in a lager or something not so hoppy. I really liked the multi section setup. There are 3 sections in the open floor plan that really lend themselves to a variety of situations for which people might come to a brewery. I liked the people, very friendly and willing to talk. It was clean and contemporary. They had a variety of styles of beer and several options within each style.
Why you should go: They have a great tap room set up. They seem to have events there, and even on a Wed night in Feb it seemed busy and bustling. They have a wide and varied beer list with something for every taste. I really loved getting an entire flight of beer with options none of which was an IPA. I didn’t even try all of their non-IPA options that night.
What could be improved: More experimentation with Honey in beer! I don’t really have a lot of complaints. I would like to see some non-IPA in cans. I would love to see that Crunchy Roll in a can, or the Grif Lager I loved so much! I’m not yet ready to commit to growlers. I don’t drink enough by myself in my home that I’m afraid it would go flat by the time I got to it. If I drink at home, I have like 1 beer, and that is maybe once or twice a week if I am NOT going out.