Brewery Willimantic Brewing Company


967 Main St, Willimantic, CT

Hours:
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.

Beer

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.

Beer flights have 5 beers.

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.

Parking

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.

Hog River Brewery

Address 1429 Park St, Hartford, CT

http://www.hogriverbrewing.com/

Hours Closed Mon/Tues Wed 3-8 Thurs/Fri 3-10 Sat 12-10 Sun 12-6

I went on a Sat before going over to Real Art Ways to watch a movie. I was with a friend and we were there between 5:30-6:30pm. It is located in a repurposed industrial building. Other businesses are also located inside.

Food: There was a food truck outside. There is also a restaurant in the building.

Atmosphere/vibe: It has a young hip urban vibe. There were some kids there. They have a lot of seating. There are long tables in the center of the room. There is a smaller side room that has tables in it that is clearly where you can reserve a table if you are having a party. It is open, but a little set aside. There are also benches and small tables scattered all around. This seems like a really great set up for various objectives. 1. If you wanted to have a party here, but not feel like you are set apart, this side room is perfect. It is completely open to the main area, but also a little aside if you are doing a birthday party, or bachelorette party, etc for stuff just your group is doing. The long tables are great if you are coming with a group. The smaller tables set aside would be great if you are taking someone on a date. It isn’t private or intimate, but it is not quite as “apart” so it is great for conversation. They have a very steampunk/industrial thing going on with all the huge machinery from the old factory painted over and still around. Ceilings are super tall, but the acoustics aren’t bad where it is just too noisy.

Service: The downside is that they only have 1 register with 1 guy on one little counter for everyone. It was hopping on a Sat early evening. It really would be more expeditious to have more registers.

Beer

I was blown away. Now, I have to say I went in with not unreasonable high hopes. I had, about a month earlier, gone up to West Springfield to play a table top RPG. One of the other players had also brought beer. They offered to let me try theirs. It was a brown from Hog River. It was smooth and delicious. I was impressed, so while they did not have that specific beer on tap when I went, I had high hopes.

As for the beers on tap the day I went…

For anyone who has read any of my prior posts, you will realize that I do not like hoppy beer and thus do not like IPA. I didn’t try any of the IPA. If you like IPA, you won’t really get much input on the IPAs available unless I’m with someone who does like IPA and tried it. I tried a flight of Golden Messenger Kolsch-style ale, Winter Wheat Red, Rumple Dumple Sour Ale, and Black Earth Pilsner. I will start by saying that if you like breweries, are from Ct, and want to do the Brewery trail this is a definite stop. You do not want to miss this one. They deliver in spades.

The Kolsch was crisp, not very hoppy, and a real pleasure to drink. Highly enjoyable.

The Winter Red was delicious! There was a nutty spicy flavor that came through. It was a delicious wheat ale. I loved it.

The Rumple Dumple was a wheat sour with raspberry and cherry flavors in it. The tart fruity flavors came through and were very delicious!

The Black Pilsner is the only one I had a problem with. Not because it wasn’t delicious. It was. I’m a big fan! I guess I was just thrown off with their advertisement that it was a “light beer” with the flavors of a dark beer. There is nothing light about it. It is a very heavy beer. Delicious! I’m a big fan mind you. If you like dark beers you are going to love this one. Velvety, full bodied, complex… really a great beer. I was completely won over by their beer selection and that they had such a complex variety that weren’t IPA.

Black Pilsner, Red, Sour, Kolsch

Parking is not particularly easy. There is minimal parking.

Area and safety

You are very neer Pope Park which you should NOT walk in at night, especially by yourself. It is near a fast track line which is good if you need public transit and don’t want to drive after having one too many. I would consider this to be a fine neighborhood during the day, but at night I think you should probably go in a group. Wear sensible shoes. The sidewalks aren’t in the best repair. Note, there are a lot of panhandlers on the street and by the bus stop. They are harmless, but be aware if this makes you uncomfortable.  I used to live in the Park Place Towers. (literally around the corner) The area doesn’t bother me, but it is in an urban lower income area. If you are not used to urban neighborhoods, you just have to have a little city sense to know when a situation is just uncomfortable for someone who is used to rural or suburban, or when a situation is dangerous. I am a strong proponent that any revitalization done to lower income urban areas should NOT just turn into gentrification. Bringing Jobs and fixing up abandoned buildings to use for purposes is great, but not at the cost of the neighborhoods they are in. Parkville is generally safe. I’ve lived there. I drive through it multiple times a week. I’m just saying that if you are female, and you go alone, at night… pay attention where you park and park smart. Don’t do something like park in Pope Park because there is no closer parking and walk alone through the park at night after drinking beer.

Overall

The Hog River Brewery needs to be on your list if you have any interest whatsoever in Beer and are going to Ct Breweries. I’m only glad that this brewery is close to where my husband works and not far from our house. It is definitely going to be one I frequent after the Year of Beer is over. There is also this funky weird oddity/antique/weirdness shop in the same industrial building. I forget it’s name, but totally go check it out, especially if you like odd and weird things.

Why you should go:  It has a lot of seating, an excellent lineup of beer, and a funky feel. As I go to breweries there are breweries I like… and breweries I plan on going back to. This is definitely one I plan on going back to. HIGHLY recommend. I think it would be a shame to be a CT beer fan and not check them out at least once.

What could be improved:My big drawback is lack of parking. It is close to a fast track line however. There is only 1 register open that you order and get served from which can cause a backup when they are busy.

BAR New Haven

View from the balcony

Address 254 Crown St, New Haven, CT

https://www.barnightclub.com/

Hours SUNDAY: PIZZA 11:30AM-11PM BAR 11:30AM-1AM
MONDAY & TUESDAY PIZZA 5PM-11PM BAR 4PM-1AM
WEDNESDAY PIZZA 11:30AM-2:30PM & 5PM-11PM BAR 4PM-1AM THURSDAY PIZZA 11:30AM-2:30PM & 5PM-11PM BAR 4PM-1AM DANCING 10PM-1AM
FRIDAY PIZZA 11:30AM-2AM BAR 4PM-2AM DANCING 10PM-2AM SATURDAY PIZZA 11:30AM-2AM BAR 11:30AM-2AM DANCING 10PM-2AM LATE NIGHT PIZZA SLICES
SUNDAY-TUESDAY 10:15-11:15PM
WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY 10:15-12:30AM
FRIDAY-SATURDAY 10:15PM-1:30AM

We inhaled half the pizza before I thought to take a picture. I got meats and onions.

I went on a Wednesday night in January.  It was busy. There are two bar areas. One is more like a bar with a pool table. The other bar had long tables and was obviously more “restaurant” for eating pizza although pizza could be had in both locations. Then there is a tiny little 2nd floor balcony with 2 tables that you can look out over the open room. It is the best seat in the house! I went with a friend, but it is IDEAL for a romantic intimate evening.

The tiny balcony has 2 tables and some vats.

Food: They serve pizza. It is New Haven style pizza, but the crust is a little crisper and less foldy-floppy. It is thin crust. They have lots of topping options! I’m not a huge fan of pizza, but it was quite tasty. I went with a friend and we shared a small. I might, if I were sharing a pizza next time get a medium. While I had enough to eat I could have probably eaten another slice or two. They do also have salads.

Atmosphere/vibe: Fun, urban, young. It definitely seems like a place where 20s-30s hang out. High ceilings with floor to ceiling windows on one side, exposed brick on most walls. Wooden trim and ceiling and rails. Visible beer vats tucked in various corners. There are tiny electric tea lights on the tables for a nice glowing atmosphere.

Service: There are wait staff for the table service of food and drinks. There are also bartenders at both bars in each room. The wait staff were friendly, but because of our unique location we did have to wait a bit longer for waitstaff attention than if we were in the main room. The location was amazing though. We did interact with one bartender at the bar to get my brewery passport stamp. He was friendly and liked my homemade passport.

Beer: I was going to be driving right after leaving, so I didn’t want to drink too much, so instead of getting a flight I got 1 pint. They had 2 IPAs on tap, as well as a Helles, Toasted blond, and peanut butter porter. I would like to go back and try the Helles. It was named Heaven or Helles. I am a sucker for witty names!

I had a pint of the peanut butter porter. It was excellent. It had a wonderful peanut butter flavor, creamy texture, and it went down smooth. I really enjoyed it! Highly recommend. If it becomes available at my local booze store I would definitely buy it! If you like dark beers, this will be a must try on your list of Ct beers.

Peanut Butter Porter goodness!

Parking

Not great. Some metered street parking, some garage parking. I went with a friend who lives in New Haven and she knew of a parking lot a few blocks away that it is free after a certain time so we braved the cold and walked.

The area is very well lit and is a college town with a lot of activity, even later at night.

Overall

I loved this place. I would definitely go again either with a couple of friends or with a group. I know they offer dancing on certain nights. I’m not big on the club scene, but for those who are it combines club and brewery. It is a large building with 2 separate bars so it is easier to get a drink even when it is crowded.

Why you should go: 1. The pizza is worth trying especially if you like pizza. The Peanut butter porter is a must if you like dark beer. The location is fun and has multiple draws, restaurant, pool, dancing, and typical brewery hang out space.

What could be improved: This place is 21+. If you like bringing your kids to the brewery with you this is not the place for you.  If you don’t like crowded club scenes, then certain nights won’t be for you. If you need close accessible parking it might be difficult. A lot of the available parking is paid lots, or metered.

Brewery Bemusing

Loyal to your brewery or a brewery bouncer?

So, as I have said before, I did the Rhode Island Brewery Trail last year in 2018. I loved going to the different places and experiencing the different vibes, atmospheres, and brews! I’ve already hit 10 locations by Feb 2019 for the Connecticut Brewery Trail this year. I’ve noticed that people going to breweries tend to fall into two categories with a tiny 3rd category.

That tiny 3rd category is made of people who aren’t “into” the brewery scene, but checked out a brewery as “something to do” one night, like trying a new restaurant or hanging out with friends at the friend’s choice of place. They might like the experience, but it was a thing… they did it… not their thing. Or They go with someone, but they don’t drink, or don’t drink beer, etc. However, the bulk of brewery-goers seem to fall into two categories.

The first seem to be the loyalists. They have their local brewery and they like going there. They have the growler, the t-shirt, the key chain. The people there greet them by name. They might visit others occasionally, but their brewery is like their local bar, corner bodega, or go to pizza delivery. It’s the place they go because it is familiar and comfortable. They are the loyalists. They like the brand, the beer, and it becomes a source of pride that they are loyal to this particular brewery. It is almost a craft brewery experience to be a loyalist, an identity even.

The second category is what I fall into. I’m a brewery bouncer. I like going to something new and want to go to as many as possible which means establishing a loyalty will take away from my completionism.

But… I think as I travel around the state I have started to feel I might also be missing something. I’m getting a sampling of places, but different beers come out at different times of year. As the summer progresses there will be more IPA and less stouts which will cloud my feelings on some breweries. I’m trying to front load as many as possible in the winter months, and maybe do the same towards the fall of 2019. I think that I might, in 2020, take all of my favorite breweries in ct and do a more focus revisit in 2020 at different times of year. Perchance even switch over from a Brewery Bouncer to a Brewery loyalist. We shall see… we shall see. I have come across at least 3 breweries, and one of them really close to where I live that I could see myself  at least getting into “facebook it’s complicated” with.

Me thinks the lady doth protest too much…

Nod Hill Brewery

Address: 137 Ethan Allen Hwy, Ridgefield, CT 06877

https://www.nodhillbrewery.com/

Hours

Thursday 4-9pm

Friday & Saturday 12-9pm

Sunday 12-6pm

I went with a friend on a Saturday night in Jan.

Food: They offer pre-packaged popcorn inside, but there was a food truck outside. We weren’t hungry but wanted something sweet. Sadly, neither the food truck nor inside could proffer that desired fulfillment of craving.

They seem to have a schedule of food trucks with rotation which is nice. While it says that the schedule should be on their website. I could find no actual info. Hopefully that will change soon. I like that there is a rotation so that locals who frequent will have a variety of food options on different nights. It is nice that the brewery coordinates with the food truck community.

Atmosphere/vibe

Clean. I dunno… for me it seemed a bit artificially hipster meets hippy, but not too much risk to fall out of main stream tj max style decorating. There were different seating areas. Along the wall (where we sat) were high chairs and a narrow shelf on the wall for drinks. Comfortable, it was. There was also a table area with large tables surrounded by chairs for groups. There was also a seating area with more comfy chairs. They had another area closed off with that industrial garage door closed. It was a 3 season style porch area, but it was obviously too cold for use in January. I Think it would be nice during seasonally appropriate times. It would make the room definitely feel bigger.

Service

There was someone who came around to take empties. There was a register where you ordered beer at the counter. The place was packed and very busy. We almost didn’t get chairs (and there is nowhere to stand if you don’t have a seated area). While it was very full and very busy the lines to order beer were not long. No one ever seemed to have to wait behind 1 or 2 people. They were very expeditious and coordinated behind the counter, but not rushed. They were focused on who they were waiting on, and quickly got what they needed and moved on to the next. It was a tightly run ship.

They sold cans, bottle and growlers. Not until after did I notice they had an additional porter in bottle that was not available on tap. I would have liked to try it.

My friend and I had a flight to share. This was the last on our list, but wasn’t our first brewery of the day. We didn’t want to be sloshed as we both lived far away and needed to travel home. They had mostly IPAs which neither of us liked. A flight is 4 short pours for $12. We were both very intrigued by the porter called Pipe and Slippers and we got 2 pours of it because we wanted to try it and thought we would want to drink one each.

The beers we tried

Pipe and Slippers (a porter) We were very intrigued by the promise of roasted barley, spicy ester, and chocolate malts. I’m glad this brewery made this. It is interesting, but I didn’t like it. While not advertised there is a strong leathery flavor tones, you can definitely taste the tobacco tones in it, which are a bit too strong for my tastes. However, if you are going to advertise pipe… deliver. They did deliver. It was thoughtful and creative even if it didn’t appeal to me and for that I respect the brewers. I was disappointed however that it had a strong coffee front nose. When you are offering these unique flavors why ruin the front nose with coffee? It might have in fact been the contributing factor to my dislike of it.

Love Nest (Belgian style rustic Ale) I’m always interested in Wheat Ales. After my trip to Germany a few years ago I have become very interested in wheat beers, pilsners, and german beers in general.  It is a very belgian ale. If you like Belgian ales you will like this. Very low hops. It was my favorite from this brewery.

Ace of Wands (Trappist inspired single) Caramel malts piqued our interest. However, this beer is WAY too hoppy. I didn’t want to drink it. We didn’t finish it.

Parking

Plenty of  free parking in a large parking lot adjacent to the building. Parking lot surrounded by woods. Some lights, but mostly near the building. The Food truck was near the building. You do have to go up stairs. I do not believe it is handicapped accessible, but I could have overlooked an available elevator.

Overall:

I was kinda underwhelmed. The vibe didn’t click with me, but plenty of people did seem to like it. It was full for a Sat night, but not over bursting. the rooms are small, but well organized to give maximum seating space for small intimate groups of 2-5. Large groups probably wouldn’t do well here. They over rely on hops for their beers including their non-IPA options. Their one porter was interesting and I liked what they were trying to do even if it didn’t appeal to me with the strong coffee front taste. If you really like dark beers, maybe go and try this to see if it jives with you. It does have unique flavors and is creative. I dunno that I would go back. Maybe if you are super into IPA and really love HOPs then it might be worth the trip to check it out. If you are not into Hoppy beer, then I would say pass on this one unless you live nearby and really want the stamp for your brewery passport. It was over an hour drive for me and I don’t think it was worth it.

Why you should go: 1. If you like hoppy beer they have a lot of selection and add hops to some of their non-IPA beers. 2. If you like complex unique flavors in dark beer you should try Pipe and Slippers. It wasn’t my jam, but I’m glad I tried it because it had unique and complex flavors that aren’t usually experimented with in dark beers at small craft breweries. 3. They seem to have a vibrant food truck collaboration with rotating options, if you are into the food truck scene. 4. If you live close it is worth the stamp on a brewery passport.

Why you shouldn’t go. 1. kinda bland decor and atmosphere. 2. Small and difficult to find seating. 3. If you don’t like hops there isn’t a whole lot of options. 4. A long trip from many parts of Ct for a “meh” experience.

Redding Beer Co

Address: 7 main street, Redding, Ct 06896

https://www.reddingbeer.com/the-taproom

Hours

  • Wednesday 5p – 10p
  • Thursday 5p – 10p
  • Friday 5p – 10p (Happy Friday $2 off Pints and Flights)
  • Saturday 2p – 10p
  • Sunday 12noon – 6p

I went with a friend on a Sat at about 2:30pm. There are long tables in the main room. Some standing area, the bar, and a secondary room with seating and tables. Very comfortable, very cozy. There were some people there, but it wasn’t crowded.

Food

They only offer pre-packaged snacks. You are welcome to bring your own food. They have a stack of menus for places that deliver. They have a stash of plastic utensils and plenty of paper towels that they liberally dole out. They are great about it. It does feel cozy like a friend’s living room.

We ordered take out on our drive there from Wire Mill BBQ that is literally a stone’s throw from the brewery. It was EXCELLENT. I highly recommend doing the same. The beef brisket was really quite good. There is nothing I love more than consuming copious amounts of BBQ and drinking beer. One of my favorite breweries in RI is Revival Brewery located in the same building as a smokehouse.

Atmosphere/vibe

Like I said, it is cozy, like you are in your friend’s basement hangout room who is super into beer and has a bar set up there. They had a big screen TV and were showing an Indiana Jones Marathon while I was there. The bartenders were laid back, professional, friendly, and pleasant. I presented my hand made brewery passport. (because as I mentioned previously the CT Brewery guild hasn’t gotten their act together to release the 2019 passport and I don’t have time to waste a-waiting) Hilariously, when I went back up to the bar for something the bartender was telling another bartender “yeah a woman came and made her own passport and had a bunch of stamps on it” I jokingly interrupted him and said “you mean me?” he was startled and without missing a step continued his conversation with the other bartender saying “ A wonderful and creative woman ingeniously made her own brewery passport.” we all laughed. It felt like the line from the song Gonzo sings in the Muppet Movie. “There’s not a word yet, for old friends who’ve just met.” You felt you were walking into your friend’s house.

Service

Excellent. The staff was well informed and able to immediately answer any questions asked of them. My friend and I were going to more than 1 brewery that day and we didn’t want to get sloshed, so we were sharing flights. We wanted to try all the not-IPA and the bartender offered to make us a flight of 6 instead of 2 flights of 4. Very accomodating, very attentive.

Beer

Good! The flights are “pick 4” Neither I, nor my friend like IPAs Of their offerings that weren’t IPA

American Wheat Ale

Belgian Triple

Irish Red Ale

Czech Amber Lager

Olde Ale

Coffee Stout

The Wheat Ale is by far I believe their best beer. It was delicious. Highly recommend.

I don’t have strong feelings about the Irish, Czech, or Belgian except they were quality beers that weren’t overly remarkable except that they made what the intended to make. Sometimes a classic doesn’t have to be remarkable to be good. It is a classic for a reason.

The Olde Ale was interesting… different… definitely different. I’ve had “so called” olde Ale’s before. This wasn’t the best that I’ve had, but it was fine.

Did not like the coffee stout. It had an overwhelmingly bitter coffee grounds flavor that was not at all appealing. We did not finish the glass.

Parking

They have a small parking lot and some parallel parking in front of the building.

The area is nice, small town vibe going on.

Overall

I feel that The Redding Beer Company is really a must stop on the CT Brewers Trail. It has good classic beers in a variety of styles. Avoid the Coffee Stout, but do not skip the wheat beer. The people who work there are friendly and engaging. The general atmosphere is cozy and inviting. It is a fun place to hang out. I’ve been to a lot of breweries. Some are the quirky niche places, some are hipster industrial spaces with board games. Some are commercial endeavors. This is a little gem that sits in the cozy, comfortable, friend’s house spot. It really is worth the trip to Redding!

Groupon Shmoupon and Kickstarter woes

Ok, so everyone likes them a deal! Right? I’m no exception, but before you buy that groupon to try out that new brewery or support a brewery’s kickstarter for a good deal read this, then make your decision.

Groupons are not always financially beneficial. In fact, you might pay MORE than just going to the brewery and getting the same items. The brewery itself is getting less of the money when you buy through groupon. If your intent is to support your local craft breweries it doesn’t as much as just buying from them. I’m still willing to get a good deal off Groupon, but it has to be an actual good deal. So, the brewery has to offer the deal for less than what they charge for the same item. Yet you might be paying more? How does this work? Well, Groupon themselves gets a big chunk of the profits from your groupon purchase. The brewery, or any other business for that matter, will often take the cut in order to get their business out there so more people know and potentially become customers. The temptation, however, is to not lose money. The temptation is to actually make money off of groupon. I have found that most brewery groupons offer something, like a flight of beer then add stickers (again with the stickers… I have voiced my opinion on this ubiquitous brewery marketing strategy haven’t I?) or an empty growler, or a pint glass, or a “tour”. Then, they mark up the cost of the “experience” and price inflate it so that it can be on discount through groupon. Example. Let’s say a normal flight of beer is $10. They add a sticker and a “tour” and claim the cost is now $17, and they are offering it on Groupon for $12 (MORE THAN 25% off!!!!) Groupon takes their cut… let’s say 2. and the brewery is getting $10 for the flight and just write off the 15 cents it costs for the sticker and the “tour” doesn’t cost them anything. You don’t actually get a good deal. I’ve never been to a brewery who wasn’t willing to just give me a sticker if I’ve wanted one. In fact, many offer and I decline. So, why do it? On the consumer viewpoint there is no reason. For the Brewery it might get the word out to people who didn’t know about them before. In fact it is not a good deal most of the time and leaves a bad money grubbing taste in my mouth that often makes me feel crusty towards the brewery than I otherwise would have felt. If you are going to offer a deal in order to get my attention to visit you, then offer a real deal and take the upfront cut in the hopes of getting a repeat customer who is loyal to you. I have bought 3 groupons that were straightforward and had a slight discount on a flight of beer. One wasn’t’ that much of a discount, but was for a brewery I already liked and I got a pint glass, which I did want from them. (I generally don’t want pint glasses unless I really already like the brewery.)

Kickstarters: So this is sort of universal to kickstarters. The problem lies in the fact that you are trying to raise money. Thus the rewards you give can’t cost more than the donation, because then what’s the point? I’m with it! I think that breweries, at least the ones in Ct, are woefully uncreative. They have a product (Beer) which I assume is the draw for all donors. People support a brewery’s kickstarter because they like beer, but many breweries completely ignore this valuable resource. They offer things like hats, key chains, sometimes pint glasses, but often stickers… lots and lots of stickers (have I mentioned my feelings on these stickers yet?) no, I don’t have a problem with the stickers. It’s a cool idea if I had a use for them, but I don’t. Anyway a few, for a very very exorbitant price offer rewards of a growler fill, or a mug at the bar, etc. Why aren’t they using their most valuable resource? Their BEER!?! Seriously. Let’s say they charge $10 for a flight. Even knowing that the flight is $10, I would be willing to pay $15 for their kickstarter with a reward of a flight knowing that I’m supporting them. The actual flight doesn’t cost them $10. It is a markup to make money. It is a business, so of course they need to make money. Their cost is substantially lower. So offer a flight of beer as a reward. Or a can of beer. People generally go to a brewery with a friend or a group or what-have-you so 1 person with coupon for a free flight from kickstarter will most likely bring in others as well who will pay full price. Same with a pour. Use a pour as an option for a few dollars more then it would cost retail as a kickstart reward.

One Kickstarter drew me in for what I would otherwise not be interested in. I’m not a fan of IPA beer. This brewery exclusively is brewing IPAs. I have very little interest in drinking their beer, but the TOX Brewery in New London, Ct did a $1 reward where anyone who donated a dollar or more would get their name on a big art piece with all the names of people who backed their kickstarter. I like supporting Ct local businesses. I want to support the craft brewing community, and just because they brew beer I’m not interested in, doesn’t mean I don’t want to support them. I gave them $1 just because my name would be on their wall. I wish more Kickstarters would have stuff like that. Either slightly more expensive versions of the things I would already buy from them, or big acknowledgements for small donations. It costs time and money to buy product and frankly people don’t really wear it or use it. 1 in 10 will actually wear or use it. It is a massive amount of unnecessary waste. Save the planet… offer beer as a reward. OR a ticket to an exclusive kickstarter party, or stuff people actually want.

So all in all, I find that currently, maybe things will change, but the groupon and kickstarter options for breweries in Ct aren’t very good and should generally be avoided. Just go to the brewery, bring your friends, spend your money there. Post pictures of you having a good time there on your social medias and tag the brewery and vote for your favorites in local voting things the The Best of CT in Hartford Magazine. If you want a good deal check and see if your brewery has a happy hour or a “slow day” where there is a discount on pints.

5 Churches Brewery


https://fivechurchesbrewing.com/

Address 193 Arch St, New Britain, CT 06051

Hours

MONDAY: 4-9PM
THURSDAY & FRIDAY: 4-10PM
SATURDAY: 12-10PM
SUNDAY: 12-6PM

We went on a Friday night around 7pm

Food: They make small individual pizzas and have other snacky foods like pretzels. The pizzas are thin crust and individual sized (about the size of a dinner plate) and cost per topping. I got sausage and onion and my husband got sausage and pepperoni. I’m not a huge pizza fan, but it was tasty. You order it up where you order your beer and they give you a table marker. (if you can get a table) When the pizza is done, someone wanders around till they find your marker and deliver the goods. No outside food is allowed. The brewery is located on the second floor and there is someone at the first floor entrance making sure that you don’t bring in outside food.

Atmosphere/vibe

They  have a happy hour on Thurs from 4-6 advertized, but we didn’t go then, so I don’t know how good it is.

There are lots of bar stools, chairs, communal tables, small tables, etc. However, it was JAM PACKED! We could not find an empty table anywhere. We ended up asking two guys at a largish table if we could use the half they weren’t using and they kindly obliged. Many people stood by the window and used the window ledge to balance their food and drinks so they could eat. If you like that sort of JAM PACKED atmosphere this will be your jam. Me, I’m more of a… I like it busy, but I’m able to physically find a place to sit and a surface to rest my drink on. It was a bit too crowded for me.

The building is beautiful. Red brick walls, high industrial ceilings with exposed ductwork. Wooden tables, and wooden ceiling round out the building.

Service: There is no beer table service. You order your beer at the very crowded bar area. They have several machines at various places at the bar, but people are also sitting at the bar, so it is difficult to get there. At the far left of the bar there is a non-seating area which is the best for ordering, but there is often a line. Pizza is delivered to table, but there is no waitstaff service and you are expected to clean up after yourself. There are people who wander throughout the crowds picking up empties as they go.

Beer

The Did We Just Become Best Friends? Porter

I kinda wish now I had done a sampling, but I didn’t. I got a pour of the “Did We Just Become Best Friends” Porter. Upon starting to drink it, I was disappointed because I realized I hadn’t seen There’s S’more Where that Came From American Imperial Stout. The Porter was good, I wouldn’t say we were best friends, but we got along fine. So I finished the porter and then had my husband brave the crowds at the bar to get me a stout.  I am a sucker for witty names. It’s corny, but I love when beers have fun and funky names. I remember them, I’m intrigued by them. It sometimes is a selling point. Anyone can name their beer. (name of brewery) Imperial Stout. I am drawn to creative people. Creative people name their beers fun things.

The Draft List at 5 Churches the night we went.

Weerder w/Pineapple Amburlance (Lager) Knights of the Pale Ale
Pew Pew (snerk snerk I love double meanings)
Steeple People (You are killing me! Bring on the dad joke names!)
Someday They Will Be Keeping the Name Short (IPA)
Cut Your Own (IPA)
Did We Just Become Best Friends (porter)
No Diggity, No Stout
There’s S’more Where That Came From

The Porter was good. I liked it fine. Like I said above, we weren’t best friends, but more pleasant acquaintances that if we met again at a party we could have a nice conversation. I was, however, disappointed in the Stout. Not that it was a bad pour. I was hoping for a graham cracker flavors as opposed to nutty. I think Graham cracker flavor would pair especially nicely instead of nut flavors in a stout. I was envisioning more like an oatmeal stout but with graham flavors. I was also hoping for a more creamy “Marshmallow” experience, maybe like a milk stout? Maybe some toasty notes? I got none of that. I was sorely vexed. It was a kinda unimaginative stout. Fine… but when I get super excited by a name that doesn’t deliver I am always left a little curmudgeonly. Don’t get me wrong. It was a fine beer. It just did not deliver on it’s spectacular name. Don’t name your beers things that conjure magic in my brain and don’t’ deliver.

Parking is limited. There is a small lot to the right of the building, but it is very small. There is some metered street parking, but that is also limited. We lucked out by seeing someone RIGHT IN FRONT of the door pulling out of parallel parking and we pulled in.

Overall I like the vibe of the place. It is a large room, seems hopping. The beer is fine. The pizza is fine. I don’t know if I will go back. It was too crowded for me. I like to sit and relax, but the noise level was also very high. The beer was good, but I’m still a little let down by the S’mores. I just… well… wanted S’more than it offered.

Thomas Hooker Brewery at the Colt Building

Thomas Hooker Brewery at the Colt Building (Note that the flagship Thomas Hooker Brewery is in Bloomfield, Ct.)

Link

Hours

Monday: 3pm – 10pm

Tuesday: 3pm – 10pm

Wednesday: 3pm – 10pm

Thursday: 3pm – 10pm

Friday: 12pm – 10pm

Saturday: 12pm – 10pm

Sunday: 12pm – 8pm

When I went:

Night time Wed Jan 9th, after food service stopped.

They do offer food, but not meals. More snacky stuff, and only during certain hours. We were disappointed that we came just a wee bit too late for noms.

Atmosphere/vibe

It was not too busy, but not dead. There was wide variety of people, mostly under 40s. Some that seemed to be hanging out after work, others just meeting friends. Only the bar was filled. There were high top tables, but we were the only ones at a table.

Bathrooms were clean. They seemed to have an outdoor seating area which would be great in the summer months. There was a bookshelf filled with various and sundry games. Depending on the crowd and vibe, I can see it being a fun place to play board games.

It was a very industrial vibe with a lot of cold, metallic, urban renewal feel to it.

Service was good. Bartenders were friendly and personable.  

Beer

I had a pint of the Peanut slayer Imperial Stout. I liked it, but not a lot of peanut butter flavor came through. There was a dark burnt nutty flavor indicative of many dark beers. It was a nice pour, but in comparison to other peanut butter beers, I feel that it really lacked in that peanut butter flavor. Foolproof Brewery (In RI) has a Peanut Butter Raincloud that delivers on the Peanut Butter flavor. You can visit Foolproof in RI, but you can also taste their beer at the BIG E in the Rhode Island Building. That is where I tried their porter last September.  For me, it felt like a let down because I was hoping for a smack of nutty penut flavor to compliment a dark beer where nutty flavors work so well. Instead I just got a decent Imperial Stout. If I had ordered a stout blind and received it I think I would have been less disappointed because I would have only been expecting a stout on which points they delivered.

I’m not a fan of IPA, as will be evident by my many many mentions of this fact at all opportunities, however I went with my Father in Law who does like IPA. He had an IPA. I believe it was #NOFILTERIPA. Witty hipster name if ever I saw one. He enjoyed it very much. I usually take pretty good notes, but I am sadly delinquent in the note taking and so I don’t remember exactly which beer he had or his exact response to it. I am delinquent also  in my lack of pictures from the Thomas Hooker Brewery at the Colt. I didn’t get any from their food menu or their beer list. This is obviously a flaw and only means I should be punished by going back and being forced to drink…more beer. HAHA

Peanut Butter Slayer Imperial Stout… Our nice bartender is blurry in the background. She was very friendly.

Free plentiful parking in a well lit parking lot.

Beer Sales? They sell cans and growler fills of some of their beers.

Overall?

I liked the brewery. The people were friendly. The location easy to find. It looks like there is a nice, comfortable space. The outside patio seems fun when the weather gets warmer. The one beer I had was good. Not blow me away good, but good enough that I want to go back and try their other offerings. I was particularly disappointed that I hadn’t noticed the Chocolate Truffle Stout. That seems worth going back to try! I think it is a solid brewery worth going to.

Cambridge Brewhouse Pub

Cambridge Brew House

my beer flight from left to right Kolsch, IPA, Porter, Scottish Ale, and Barleywine

They are located at 375 Salmon Brook St in Granby, Ct.

https://cbh.beer/

Tue-Sat 11:30-12  Sun 11:30-11 (Kitchen closes every night at 9pm)

I went on a Wednesday night. It was busy, but not crowded. The atmosphere is traditional New England style pub food establishment. It was winter, so the deck was closed, but it looked very promising for a summertime hang out spot. It seemed to be filled with locals who were having dinner with their families or groups of people there after work for a drink at the bar.

Service was poor. We kept being told that our server would be right over, but they never came. Finally the hostess served us. Food was good. We got steak skewers, Chili with beef, and fried pickles. The pickles were exceptionally good. They were spears, not slices and were super tasty. There are a lot of vegetarian options for those who don’t eat meat.

Beer:

So the beer was good. I was very pleased with the variety of options. Many breweries (you will hear this complaint myriad times from me if you continue to read this blog) rely on IPAs and only IPAS with like 1 or 2 other options. They had a legit variety of beers. I tried a beer flight  which included:

Kolsch (EXCELLENT and by far their best beer) highly recommend this german style beer.

IPA (not as bitter as many) IPA is not my thing. Don’t rely on me for IPa recommendations if you like IPA.

Porter (good, didn’t blow me away, but it was fine.)

Scottish Ale (interesting)

Barleywine (more bitter than expected for a barley wine, but I guess they do mean aggressive bitterness when they say it. Ain’t no lie baby… bitter bitter bitter) you get a smaller pour of the barley wine as it is a MUCH higher alcohol content.

1 Taplist blackboard
Part 2 tap list blackboard

Parking: There is free parking. The lot in the back is closer to the entrance. It is a decent sized lot, but might fill up in the summer on a weekend night, especially when they open that promising deck area.

Area: Safe. Did not feel like a sketchy neighborhood or somewhere that a diminutive female would be uncomfortable walking alone to their car at night. Being a diminutive female, I’m well suited to the overall vibes that diminutive females get when alone in certain parking lots.


Overall: I liked it. The food was good. The beer was good. The atmosphere was less hip craft brewery and more homey New England brewpub. It is definitely a comfort food, comfort drink kinda place.

Printed tap list and descriptions on table