Thimble Island Brewery

16 Business Park Dr, Branford, CT

Hours: Mon-Wed 3-8 thurs 12-8 Fri 12-10 Sat 11-10 Sun 12-7

I went on St Paddy’s day at about 1pm with my father in law. I originally had a large group and we were going to hit a bunch of breweries on St. Paddy’s day. I’m going to say I’m a bit salty that literally everyone canceled on me except my Father in law. So Vini Vidi Viche. Or something or other. We hit up Thimble Island first. My husband bought me a groupon for Thimble Island for Christmas. We had 2 flights and got to take home Pint glasses. I’m gonna say right here, please breweries when you make pint glasses have they etched. Etched can go in dishwashers. I hate washing things by hand. Anyway… they also have tours which we were able to go to their tour while we were there. Tours are free. I like tours.  I was given a groupon for Christmas, so we used that. The groupon was $16 and you got 2 beer flights and 2 pint glasses (empty) to take home. The groupons for tastings at breweries usually cost more than the flights themselves, but less than if you purchased flights. The basic flight at Thimble is $9, so this groupon deal is actually a decent deal as it is $2 less than just the flight and you get the bonus of a pint glass.

Food Truck and picnic tables

They sell snacky bites like chips and stuff. There was a food truck outside, but it wasn’t open yet for service. You can also bring your own food to the brewery.

snacky cooler

Atmosphere/vibe: It is a traditional brewery taproom. The staff is interactive and friendly. The space has standing room only bar area. They also have some table area. They have a nautical theme going on with ropes and old timey diving helmets etc. They advertise events and live music, but nothing was going on when we were there other than their lager was green for St. Paddy’s Day.  They had picnic tables outside on the grass and an outside seating area as well for the nicer days or evenings. There were string lights I assume go one in the evening when outside seating becomes viable.

Service: our bartender was named Christian. He was knowledgeable, informative, helpful, and friendly. We were talking to him about the beers. With the groupon you had no choice in your beer flight line up. It was a standard line up. I didn’t like that as choices like that tend to favor the IPA range and as we know I am not a fan of IPA. I love me some malts, but when breweries get to choose the line up they make assumptions that drinkers like hops. To be perfectly honest, most of the people I conscript to go with me on these brewery trips universally dislike hops and IPA. Maybe people who like malts are more likely to be friends? Dunno, but I think it was a bad decision on the part of Thimble Island to set up the flight this way. If the point of the groupon is to draw people into your establishment who them become customers then you are NOT putting your best foot forward. In fact you are limiting your potential customer base and potentially driving people away. If someone who doesn’t like IPA is given a lineup of mostly IPA, they are simply going to assume that they don’t like your beer because they are not exposed to your more malty options. That’s just my opinion. Anyways I really liked Christian. He let me try the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) they had on tap. They had a stout base that they had turned into 4 different kinds of stout (listen up kids it is  high ABV so drink appropriately). Anyway the flavor they had on tap was a ginger infused beer. It was great. Then Christian dug up a 4 pack of cans where each can was different. There were four different flavors all made from the same base. I went ahead and bought it. Christian also gave me an unmarked bottle of the base concoction. I will be doing separate blog posts on all of these beers that will be drunk at home. They also had a free tour of the behind the scenes stuff and Christian was nice enough to keep our purchased beer etc behind the counter for when we came back.

Heah, look… that’s Christian the bartender

The tour was conducted by a woman named Gina. Their packing plant was interesting. The tour guide was ok, but she was very opinionated and some of the information she gave us, upon looking it up afterwards, was incorrect. At the time I questioned it, cause it seemed off, but upon research afterwards I became convinced. I’m all for people having strong opinions, but in a service industry you are going to easily cause a negative opinion of your company if you have only negative things to say about your town, your state, and your fellow breweries. Anyways some things we learned about Thimble Island Brewery. 1. Their IPA Sea Mist takes 9 days to brew (in kegs).  2. They are the largest brewery that distributes themselves in Ct. 3. Their machines and tanks were made in Italy.

They have a hard core industrial operation going on
The heart of the canning operation
Look at how cool that is! The Thimbles are on the table! Tickles me pink!

They have really nifty tables in the back that have maps of the Thimbles on them! I really liked them. I think they should have those tables out on their taproom. For those not familiar with the geographic area of Ct called the Thimbles, they are a bunch of tiny islands off the coast of southeastern Ct. They are mostly only inhabited during the summer and boat is the primary way of getting to them. Many are private islands.

Beer

So, as I said before, I did not pick this lineup of beer. It was pre chosen by Thimble Island as part of the groupon flight. Again, I would like to point out I think this was a bad move on their part. Generally I feel like quibbling over the costs of different beers is a turn off to me as a consumer. Just change an extra buck for every single flight and then it will make up for the ones that choose a beer that you want to charge more for. Charging extra for certain beers in a flight seems quibbling and stingy in my opinion. I totally get that some beers are more time intensive and costly to make and therefore in order to make a profit you need to change more for them. I’ve totally had some flights where they give you half a pour of that kind of beer. Part of what I love about breweries is that open and inviting feeling like you are going somewhere where they are passionate about what they do and want you to be a part of it. Making different beers within a flight different prices seems like squabbling over… well… thimbles. Charge an extra dollar on all your flights and it will all even out in the wash an you won’t make people feel like you are nickel and diming them.

The beers in our flights were as follows

American Ale: This is their flagship beer. It is nice, smooth, bubbly on the tongue. Not at all bad, but not the kind of beer I’m gravitate to. It’s a clean crisp beer that would appeal to a wide audience. It’s a nice amber color. It claims some caramel flavors. I don’t get those. It is a very light beer which would make it nice for summer drinking, but it’s ABV is just a hair too high to be a session beer.

Coffee stout: meh. It’s not the worst thing in the world. I really do not like adding coffee to stouts. I’m always disappointed when the brewery chooses to make their 1 stout be a coffee stout. It wasn’t the best coffee stout I’ve ever had… not was it the worst. It was… predictable and forgettable. What wasn’t in the lineup that I would have loved to try was their Baltic Porter, but I wasn’t allowed to pick my own beers, so I didn’t get to try it.

Behold the festive green lager

Thimble Lager: They dyed this green for St. Paddy’s Day. Very festive. It is a solid lager. No complaints. I tend to like my lagers more malty than this one, but I can see how it probably appeals to a large audience.

Sea Mist: (IPA) It is very hoppy and very citrus. If that is your thing, you will probably like it. It was too bitter for me. They said it was their best selling beer. I guess if their main audience likes IPA I could see it being their thing. It is a typical style IPA with citrus notes.

Flights include 4 beers held in a mental frame. I like that their logo is a nautical knot. It is a nice logo.

If I could have made my own flight, I would have probably tried their lager. I would have also tried the Baltic Porter. I would have like to try their Ruby Tart Blonde ale, and I would have loved to try their Scarlet Siren a sour ale with orange and raspberry

Bathrooms: I have to say I have no info on their bathrooms. I totally forgot to visit them. My bad.

Parking: Plenty and voluminous. There is a large parking lot with plenty of parking.

Area and safety: The area is a kind of newer industrial area. It seemed safe and I wouldn’t have a problem walking or parking there alone at night.

I’m a fan of the geeky Star Trek sign.

Overall: I liked it. I liked the bartender Christian. I enjoyed my beers for the most part. I wasn’t thrilled with my flight line up. It wasn’t very interesting or inspiring. The flight itself seemed boring and generic. Had I only had the flight I wouldn’t have said it was a bad trip, but I would have no interest in going back. However, the sample of M.A.D. with Chipotle and ginger really opened my eyes and I was, without difficulty, convinced to take home a 4 pack. I will be doing a separate blog post about drinking those beers at home. I feel if Chrisitan hadn’t suggested this I probably wouldn’t think twice about Thimble Island again. Having this pre-canned lineup I think served them very ill in that regards. I ended up coming away with a mostly positive experience. I enjoyed the day I drank the beer and it was fine. Like our experience wasn’t bad. I feel bad, but I just came away with (excepting the taste of the MAD stout and Christian the bartender) that it was very generic and uninspiring. They have a lot of product, but not a lot of originality. I feel my experience would have been totally different if I had a lineup of beers that were unique and different and made me say WOW. I mean I immediately took home the one beer that did make me say wow.

Why you should go: If you like stouts I would highly advise trying something from their M.A.D. series. Interesting flavor combos. Their other beers are inoffensive. They are generic kinds of beers that would appeal to a mass audience because they are very generic. The bartender, Christian, was a gem. We really liked him.

What could be improved: The tour guide was very negative towards other breweries, the state of Ct, and the city the brewery was located. Sure, I understand sometimes certain things might be frustrating on both the state and city level for a small business, but people who want a tour don’t want to hear that. It makes the brewery seem like they’ are whiny and malcontent. I also strongly oppose this “canned” flight lineup. It forces people to have a lineup of things they very well could have no interest it. I found the lineup boring and generic. I would have loved to try some of the more interesting beers that Thimble Island has to offer, and it only leaves me to question why they are hiding them? Is this that the beers aren’t that great? Or is it because they just have bad marketing choices. I’m really impressed by the M.A.D. line and for that reason alone I hope they change some of these things.

We didn’t go in there, but it looks like they have an event room. That’s really nice if you wanna do a birthday party or something there. As a postscript, there was a dog. I guess they are a pro-dog brewery.
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