Norbrook Farm Brewery

204 Stillman Hill Rd Colebrook, Ct

Hours: Wed-Sat 12-8pm Sun 12-6pm

GPS directions are very straightforward and the farm is easily marked so you can see it from the road.

I went with a friend on a Wednesday around 6pm in March. It was cold, but the weather was nice. There was still snow on the ground. They have an outdoor space which looked to have a lot of promise, but it was covered with snow. I was amused by the “cow seat”. Looks to be a nice space for the warmer weather.

Food: They offer some select snacky foods for sale. They also offer they nubby bready bites for free. I’m always really 100% down with free bar snacks. It has been a staple of breweries and beer venues since forever. I support the tradition of giving me salty snacks so I drink more beer.  While they don’t offer FOOD FOOD. There are some snacky options like chips, nachos, and maybe some other things I didn’t see. They also offer soft drinks for sale as well as tea. Again, can’t express enough how much I like having the free nubby bread things for free.

Atmosphere/vibe:  There are multiple rooms going on, with multiple seating options. There is a long bar area with the traditional bar seating. (and hooks for purses and coats under the bar) There is area with small tables great for an intimate date night or catching up with an old friend. They have a larger area with long tables for larger groups. There is another side room with some high tables and another long table. The decor is farm chic. It is nice, but not particularly original. It looks like it was mass ordered from like Wayfair or Marshals. I would have liked a little more personality, but it was all very nice. It has a contemporary American farm feel with an open floor plan. It is warm and inviting, but not very original or distinct. I tend to like unique and quirky and somewhere that screams “remember us”.

I absolutely loved the copper bar. Very beautiful!

Service was top notch. Our bartender’s name was Shelby. She was great. She was very knowledgeable about the beers they offered. She was very friendly, and a great bartender.

Beer

Flights are 5 beers in a small tulip style glass. They are nestled into a wooden rack that has metal handles. There is a line of chalkboard for them to write the number of the beer in front of the corresponding glass. They have the initials of the brewery on the glasses. I kinda think that was a mistake. They should have a logo that is more recognizable. From a marketing perspective even if they just stuck with the initials, the letters should be a quarter of an inch further up the glass so they are more prominent. People take pictures of the beer flights and put them on social media. They are missing out on a change for free buzz marketing by not making a more immediately recognizable individualized logo in a prominent place for social media pictures to take full advantage of it. I like the mini tulip glasses.

They have a large variety of beers, but are a little heavy on their menu with IPAs. It seems that even their non-traditionally hopped beers seem to have hops added for some reason. Not sure why they made that choice. It kinda limits their audience. I was pleased that they had a large enough selection so that I could get a flight without an IPA.  The two out of my flight that I liked the most were the Belgian Triple and the Kolsch.

you can see in the top left hand corner a container of those bready nubs.

Sickle (Belgian Triple): This beer is acidic. I like it. It has distant buttery creamy texture to it. There are definite hops, which I think the beer would be better off without. It doesn’t need it. I think this is one of the beers in the flight that I liked the most. I think if it wasn’t so hoppy it might be my favorite beer that they offer.

Goulet’s grade A (Maple Red Ale): It is very sweet. I don’t like how the hops interacted with the maple flavors. I like how interesting it tastes, but I think it is too sweet for me. If you head to the Norbrook Farm, and get a flight, I would suggest getting this as one of the options. It is really interesting. I like interesting beers and I think they are worth trying.

Beckley Furnace Ale (brown ale): Almost a bitter or old ale in taste and composition. They added hops. Hops are stronger in the after. It is toasty on the front end. I like the toasty, but feel like the hops detract from the beer.

Cog Ale (Kolsch): I like their kolsch, but I feel like they really focus on adding hops to almost all of their beers where it was completely unnecessary. It had a crisp end which was nice.  I think it would have been better without the strong hops flavors. There should be a much milder hops used in a Kolsch. It isn’t supposed to be an IPA.

Dennis Hill Estate (Saison): This wheat beer has a citrus rind aftertaste. I wasn’t a big fan. It was ok. I usually really love wheat beers, but the bitterness of the citrus rind flavor wasn’t for me.

Cletrac 15 (American Stout): Coffee… added hops. Not impressed or interested. Please brewers don’t’ add hops to stouts. It is very… boring, unoriginal and forgettable. Maybe there is a push to try and get people who like hops to try other styles of beer by adding hops to other styles of beer? I dunno… I feel it just alienates the people who like non-hop beers because the things offered that aren’t IPA also have hops, even a stout. So this stout was definitely NOT for me. It had coffee and hops in it. These are both things I don’t like in my beer. It made me sad because while I didn’t try their porter it also had coffee in it. Why? Why ruin perfectly good beer by adding coffee? On top of this why have BOTH of your dark beer options with coffee. It shows no range.

Bathrooms: Let me tell you they earn the BEST BATHROOM ribbon. Their bathroom is a delight! It was so clean, so fresh, so well stocked. They had fresh crisp linen air freshener and lotion! They also have a baby changing station! As a mom who doesn’t bring my kid to breweries it doesn’t help me, but as a mom I notice places that are actively trying to make it easier for parents! I note and applaud. Now, I didn’t go in the men’s restroom, but I hope they also have a changing set up in the men’s room as well. Changing diapers is the responsibility of parents! Men change diapers too. (I’d love if someone could go into the men’s room and give me the skivvy on if the men’s room  has a baby changing table too. They also have fancy soap. I’m super impressed and award Norbrook Farm Brewery with the blue ribbon of brewery bathrooms!

Parking: They are in possession of huge tracts of… parking. Well, if not huge at least reasonably sized. They have a nice sized parking lot.

Area and safety: Too far out of the way to talk to, but the parking lot and generally area is safe. The main road is a back road that isn’t lit. I wouldn’t walk there especially in the evening. It wouldn’t be safe as cars won’t see you until they are right on top of you.

Overall: If you are doing the Ct Brewery passport there are a few breweries I feel you could skip, this isn’t one of them. I feel that Norwood Farm has enough charm to be a pleasant experience for anyone. The staff are friendly. They have yummy noms free to eat while drinking. The people we talked to there were friendly. It had a small town brewery feel where you walk in and feel a part.

Why you should go: Well, first of all the bathrooms alone are worth going. The staff is great and friendly. They tend to be more hops heavy  in their brews than suits my personal taste, but if you like hops, they have a lot of hoppy beers. They have a variety of spaces which make it great for different kinds of groups from small intimate 2 person tables, to large long tables for large groups. The set up is great as it is all open floor plan, but there are distinct and separate rooms so if you are looking for just a bit more space for a private group you can be slightly separate. It is a really nice set up.

What could be improved: Well, I personally think that they shouldn’t add hops to ALL of their beers, especially their dark beers. Their two dark beers were both also coffee based.  It really shows lack of skills. A good brewer can make distinctly different styles of beers without adding hops or coffee in as a crutch. I kinda feel that adding hops is exactly that, a crutch for brewers who don’t know how to develop flavors with malts or yeasts, or any other things other than hops. Also, I tend to feel that when the only dark beers you offer are coffee that it is as if you are trying to mask the fact that you can’t develop well rounded stout flavors. I also kinda wish they had less of generic wayfair design scheme.

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