Cliffside Brewery

16b Center St, Wallingford, CT 06492 http://www.cliffsidebrewing.com/ Hours Thurs & Friday 5-9 Sat 1-9 Sun 1-8

I went with a friend on a Friday night in early March. When we came in there were only one other group there at a 4 seat table. While we were there, another group came in and sat at the couches. It was comfortable and clean. The bathroom was clean and well stocked single unisex bathroom. They recently added more hours and are now open on Thursdays and Sundays (they weren’t before).

They have free popcorn. It was great! I loved that they had a salty snack to munch on while drinking beer. Next door was a place called Tata’s. They had great food. We ordered an appetizer sampler and split it while drinking our beer. I always love when breweries have bar snacks. Extra points for them here as the popcorn is free for people drinking.

So this brewery had a coffee shop vibe. While many breweries completely embrace the industrial feel, show their brewing vats, and focus on the exposed brewing as part of the decor and vibe, Cliffside abandons this, and really goes for the small town coffee shop feel. It is nice, but I don’t feel like I’m in a brewery.. There is a section with couches and a coffee table, but most of the seating is small 4 seater tables with chairs. There is no actual bar with bar stools.

Service was fine. The guy behind the bar wasn’t particularly interested with engaging with the customers, but was immediately ready and expeditious with pouring beer when anyone wanted one. I tend to like more witty banter at breweries and friendly talk. I missed the fact that there wasn’t an actual bar. The coffee shop set up made it very disposed to small groups and couples, but not to mingling or interaction between customers and other customers, or customers and the bar staff. I did miss that.

Beer

I know I’ve talked about my frustration with Groupons from breweries, but I was given a Cliffside groupon for Christmas. It was a decent groupon. We got 2 flights and then a pour each. If they still have this groupon when you go, it is worth buying. It all comes down to the beer, so these are the ones I tried while there.

Graceful Shutdown: (Bock Maibock) It was interesting and complex. It lay heavy on the tongue and really smacked the back of your mouth when drinking. It is a malty beer. There are some hop flavors, but very mild.

Stonewall: (Red Ale) I liked it. It was sweet and very malty. I like the malts in this one. You go in expecting it to be a heavy beer, but it is, in fact, very light. It has some roasted flavors in there which are nice.

Enlightenment: (fruit beer) I wasn’t a big fan. It is far too saccharine. It is how I imagine a super floral soap in your grandma’s guest bathroom that you aren’t allowed to use because it is the special soap would taste if it were a beer. It has an artificial taste. I wasn’t a fan, and I generally like fruit beers. It is supposed to have an apricot flavor. I love apricot, but I didn’t get any apricot. This was just a miss for me.

Rockslide: (Brown ale) This was one of my favorites.  It was malty, toasted, and delicious! There are lovely nutty flavors with this one, very nutty. I got chestnut and maybe a hint of caramel. There was a slight sweetness. I am a fan. If you go and they have this one on tap, I highly recommend.

Moonless Night: (Imperial Double stout) I think I’ve talked about this before, but adding the word “imperial” to a beer today basically means double the “thing”. If it is an imperial stout it will have double the malts. An imperial IPA will have double hops. Anyways, This was a perfectly fine, uneventful imperial stout. No complaints, but it didn’t blow me away either. Stouts are harder, in my opinion, to get REALLY GOOD at a brewery. Most go the lazy route and throw coffee in. I’m glad they didn’t. They just tried to make a traditional imperial stout. It was fine. I would have liked it to be a bit more creamy, but it was fine.

There was a free parking lot a short walk away. On their website, Cliffside Brewing have color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back explaining what each one was. Not to mention the aerial photography…

For those of you who didn’t get the reference… go educate yourself on Arlo Guthrie. Also, it is in fact a google satellite picture, but yeah there are colored arrows and lines and such to show you appropriate parking areas. Very helpful for those not familiar with Wallingford. Which I was not.

It is on a well lit, walkable street. I mean there is a graveyard on the other side of the street, but for many people (me included) that is a bit of a plus. Memento Mori. There are local businesses and bars in the area.

Overall: I liked it. I don’t know I would make the trip all the way out there from Hartford just for this place, but if I were in the town anyway, I might stop back in. It is a nice sort of coffee shop hang out vibe which is nice. Their website advertises things like craft nights and bingo nights. That seems fun. Nothing was going on the night we went.

Why you should go: I like the coffee shop feel, even if I was disappointed in the lack of an actual BAR area. They offer free popcorn! A nice free salty snacky thing while drinking beer is the best! They have a few beers I really liked. If you are going to go, try the Rockslide. It is nicely situated if you are already in that area to stroll in and have a beer. It is a nice place if you are doing the Ct beer trail. You are sure to find at least 1 beer you like. Did I mention the Rockslide yet? I did? Well, let me mention it again. It is worth trying. I really liked it.
What could be improved: I really wish they had a bar. I kinda really miss having a bar to sit at. I also wished the bartender was more engaging. I like talking about the beer at breweries and learning about what is coming up, etc. I didn’t like their fruit beer. It tasted artificially sweet and saccharine.

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SHORT LIST

Well, it’s many a days I’ve traveled a million miles or more, But a short list of breweries I’ve never made before.

So, I’ve decided to start a short list. These are breweries that have a little extra oomph that makes them on a short list. While I started this blog for Ct breweries, I did the RI brewery trail in 2018 and I feel like I really should start with an honorable mention. If you find yourself in the Ocean State, I know I’ve mentioned it several times already, but you really should try out Revival Brewery. They gots them some good beer. Also, their smoked BBQ there is do die for. I will still make trips all the way to Rhode Island just to go to this brewery and stock up on beer once or twice a year. I have 1 can of Pinky Swear still in my fridge. It calls to me, but I can’t bring myself to drink it because once it’s gone there will be none left in my fridge! I have found some of Revival Brewery’s beer sold in cans at my local booze store (Total Wines and Liquors in West Hartford). Sadly, they only import the IPA and if I have made anything abundantly clear it is my dislike of IPA.

What does “short list” mean? Well, for you these are the breweries that you really need to make the effort to go to. If you are at all doing the Ct beer thing you should hit these up or your really aren’t getting the best of what Ct has to offer. For ME these are the ones that after the year of beer is over I will make the extra effort to go back to. These are the ones I will talk to my local beer store and say. “Please contact these people and stock these beers. I will buy them.” These are the ones that I will, when I’m having a party, buy a growler from. For me the short list are the ones I will make the EXTRA effort to go back to after the year of beer is over. That isn’t to say I won’t go back to some other ones if I’m in the area, but I might not make a SPECIAL trip JUST for them.

Without further ado… EB Savage’s short list…

Hog River: Located in Parkville in Hartford, Ct. This little gem is great. The beer offerings are varied, interesting and extremely good. It is a vibrant atmosphere. There is lots of seating. Food trucks are available and rotating. It is located where other food is easily accessible. They are a highly recommended short list addition.  (downside: parking is limited).

Willimantic Brewery and Cafe: Located in Willimantic, Ct. This one is extremely good. They also have food. I love the interesting things they are doing with beer. I’m sold. There was a wide variety of beer styles and all of them were well crafted. There is a lot of seating in the restaurant side, and another traditional brewery section available as well. There is parking, and it has a great vibe going on. I definitely have this on my short list. (Downside: It is a bit of a drive if you aren’t from the area)

Labyrinth Brewery: Located in Manchester, Ct. This place has the cutest set up for flights! They also have good beer of a wide variety. They show their chops in the brewing business by having quality beers to suit a wide variety of tastes.  If you can get past the occasional mediocre cover singers, you will understand why this place is HOPPING on the weekends! (downside: mediocre cover singers on some nights)

Alvarium Brewery: Located in New Britain. This brewery has a vibrant scene going on with different functional sections in the brewery, a couch seating area, a bar area, and a large table area. They have a wide variety of beers to suit any tastes. They are doing some interesting things with their beers and present solid classics alongside experimental stuff. The people there are really friendly and engaging and love to talk about what they are doing now and plans for new beers to come. Parking is abundant. (Downside: not a lot of bathrooms per large space)

That is my short list for now. I will do new short list updates as I progress through the Ct Year of Beer. What puts a place on the short list you ask? Here are my criteria.

  1. A warm welcoming environment with friendly staff, comfortable interior, and plenty of seating. Staff understand what they are talking about when you ask them questions about the beer.
  2. A variety of beer. Not just 1 beer I really like. A wide variety of different styles of beer, and I LIKE most all of them. Dark beers, light beers, wheat beers, sours, etc. They aren’t just hampered into to 1 or 2, but are working with a variety of things and they are all quality.
  3. Experimentation! Even if I don’t like it personally, I’m impressed by experimentation outside of the IPA sphere. Push the envelope. Try something next and exciting. Even if it doesn’t work I like supporting new and exciting innovations.
  4. Do I just plain like the beer? Sometimes beer is good, but mildly forgettable. Do they have something that I come away saying. WOW that was unforgettable beer. I want more of it! I want to go back and drink more of that beer! YEAH! Not just good beer, but unforgettably good beer.

If it hits all of these points, I feel the brewery should be on a short list. A place that if you are going to do the Ct brewery trail you are remiss if you don’t hit “THAT ONE”.

Front Porch Brewing

226 N Plains Industrial Rd UNIT 4, Wallingford, CT 06492

http://frontporchbrewing.co/ (Their website isn’t particularly helpful. Their Facebook has more information.)

Hours Thurs & Fri 5-12 Sat 12-12 Sun 12-5

I went on a Friday on March 1st around 6pm-ish. When we got there they had a Uhaul pulled up inside an open pulldown industrial door. They were unloading crates of cans and kegs. It was rather chilly, but we kept our coats on and survived.

They don’t offer food, only bags of chips for sale. On the Friday when we went there were no food trucks. They also offer sodas and wine for sale. They had a guest cider on tap, but as we were focused on beer we didn’t try it.

Atmosphere/vibe: There was a funky sort of hang out spot vibe to the place. They had couches with video game setup. There were some loose strings of christmas lights hanging on the wall. There were a couple of picnic tables. It was very “warehouse” converted into a hangout area. It was like an upgrade from “Mom’s basement” kind of hangout vibe where you go when you aren’t a teenager anymore and can afford to rent a small industrial unit.

There were two people working there when we arrived. Their names were Dean and Ryan. I felt like something way kinds lost in the fact that one person’s name was ryan. I mean if his name were Sam… and their friend in a tan trench coat showed up every now and again… but I digress. They were both unloading cans and kegs from the uhaul with Dean being the primary on this task and Ryan being the main bartender personage. Dean promised my friend and I that since we endured the cold open roll up door for so long he would buy us a beer on him the next time we came by. We shall keep you up to that promise Dean… The North Remembers…

Proof that Dean and Ryan exist, as do also the many pallets of cans and kegs and barrel they unloaded from the Uhaul.

Note: I do not like whiskey, but I did notice they also sell whiskey. I am unsure if they distill it themselves or it is just an offering they have. If you like whiskey, you should inquire.

A Toaster is just a Death Ray with a smaller power supply: This is an interesting beer because it isn’t exactly fitting into any specific box. It isn’t a “fruit beer”. It isn’t a “sour”. It is a wheat ale, but with pomegranate flavors. It is tart, but not sour beer tart. It is very delicious and very drinkable. It is light, but not in the way “light lager” is light. I am a big fan. I liked it a lot.

Gin Party: A big trend is to age beer in bourbon barrels. With the fact that they also offer whiskey and whiskey flights here I was surprised and pleased with this interesting switcheroo by aging this beer in gin barrels. I am a big fan of gins and the distinctive junipery/pine flavors do come through, but not in an oppressive way. It it a nice, tart, fun beer, especially for people who also happen to like gin.

Where is the Madness that You Promised Me?: (note… this is a single hopped citrus IPA) I hear the chorus of tiny internet voices… but haven’t you said over and over and over how you don’t like IPA? I have… and I still don’t, but I will try them… for SCIENCE! Also, every now and again I find one that I’m like “eh… it’s not so bad. I’d drink it.” This was… ok. I wasn’t a fan, but if you like IPA please do not take my advice on IPA. For what it’s worth it wasn’t exceptionally hoppy. It had more of a bitter citrus flavor to it. I kinda felt I wanted more madness… I felt it was a very unoffensive IPA, so maybe it is all explained in the title. WHERE IS the madness we were promised? (I’m a sucker for witty beer names every. single.time)

Crepuscular: (Story time! So we are talking to RyanWhoIWantToCallSam. He told us how this beer came about their experimenting with sour beer. For those who aren’t familiar with how sours are made they use special wild strains of yeast into the mix. These strains of bacteria or yeast are different from normal brewers yeast and like to throw giant rave parties in the beer. The problem with rave parties is that the ravers are having such a good time they don’t want to be contained! They want their fun rave to spread to the world! Or it is just really hard to contain these wild strains when brewing with them and you risk cross contamination with other beers you happen to be brewing nearby. Wild strains of brewing yeast/bacteria used for making sours are like the HeLA cells of beer! So the story time aspect of this is that they were making a sour beer and it was fermenting next to a stout. The wild yeast strains contaminated the stout and started growing in it. Now, these wild yeast strains are what give sours their yummy tart sourness, but they aren’t the type of yeast you are supposed to have in stouts.) I was intrigued when I saw a “sour stout” the flavor profiles are so different. The mouth feel is so much different. My brain was intrigued. I felt that this would either be absolutely disgusting or I would love it. My reaction… “oh… (long pause) well… OH! *another sip* Yes… oh yes!” Please sir, can I have another?” It is tart, but mellow and smooth. It has the smooth creaminess of a stout with the nice malty aspect, but it also is tart. It really is a beer that makes your brain do a double take. As this was an accident, I’m curious if they can recreate it. It is definitely worth trying to recreate.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Sweater: It has lots of peanut butter goodness to it. Very yummy. It’s base is an imperial stout so there is a lot of heavy malt to it. It had only a little bit of foam however. I liked it.

The flights come in choices of 4 and they are served in a little rectangular box with a tiny box for each glass of beer. I think since the place has such a retro vibe to it, they should come up with a less traditional way to serve their flights. Something more apropos to the whole vibe of the place.

Bathrooms: So, I am enamored by their bathroom! It looks like a crazy cat lady grandma decorated it. I absolutely love it. Also their sign was hilarious! It was a clean bathroom which frankly made me happy. It seemed like a mostly male hang out and I generally expect toilet seat up and pube hair, but it was clean and tidy and well stocked. I’m thinking the cat lady grandma also cleans it. They win best decorated bathroom. I love the cat theme!

Parking: Parking is adequate, but there isn’t a whole lot of it. I think, for the size of the brewery it is adequate, however there are other businesses that share the strip of parking.

It is not a walk-to place. It is off a main road, especially at night it would be dangerous to walk to as the traffic on the main street, especially in the dark, might not see a pedestrian. The parking lot is not exceptionally well lit at night.

Why you should go: We had a good time here. I really like some of the beers. The sour stout really blew my mind. I know it was an accident, but I hope they can recreate it. The people there are friendly, both the customers and the staff. It seems like a fun place to hang out.
What could be improved: They don’t have a lot of offerings for cans or growler fills. I hope they never change the design on their bathroom! In fact it needs MORE cats… Also, bigger signage, especially from the main street. Maybe a flag at their door or something that catches the eye and makes it a bit more easier to find. It took us a few minutes to actually figure out where it was.

A Steam Room in Hartford

This blog has been all about the Year Of Beer, but my general life philosophy is that life is full of adventures and one of the best things in life you can collect is experiences. Experiences are what make us interesting human beings and give us a way to understand the world around us. Not everyone needs to have the same experiences, but go out and have as many adventures as you can! This past weekend I had a great experience at Real Art Ways. They have a pop up combination art installation, maple syrup boiling and community steam room. They created a pop up steam room in the parking lot of the Real Art Ways parking lot. The steam is pumped into the room through a series of pipes connected to the maple syrup production equipment. Now the first thing that everyone seems to ask is, “So does it smell like maple syrup?”, “Is it pumping maple steam into the room?”, “Will I get sticky?”. The answer is no.  The maple syrup is in container in the maple shack. Those containers are in water. The water is boiled to keep the maple sap boiling so it will turn into maple syrup. That water creates a large quantity of steam. The steam is pumped into the steam room.

I really like the idea of a community steam room where people can come, sit, visit with others, and enjoy the health benefits of the steam room.

Steam baths date back to the Roman times. They were a place where people from all socioeconomic strata of society could come and mingle. There are many cultures who use steam baths. Some famous ones include Russian baths, Turkish, baths, and Japanese Sento baths. Saunas, a cousin to the steam bath are popular in even more of a variety of countries.

Steam rooms help with circulation, help to detox the body, and open airways. For me, especially in the winter, I am constantly congested with terrible sinus pressure. I spent an hour in the steam room and I could breathe again. My body felt lighter. I had more energy and generally just felt amazing. It was a great experience. There were people of all ages and backgrounds there enjoying the room.

They charge $10 per half hour and offer clean towels and disposable flip flops for your use. There is a small changing room before you enter the steam room, but you could also change in Real Art Ways and come out in a bathrobe you bring from home. They suggest bringing your bathing suit, but some people just wore shorts and a t-shirt or something similar. Be sure to bring clean clothes to change into after as what you wear in the steam room will be soaking wet.

I went on March 16th 2019. They will be there for a few more weeks, then it will move to Keeny Park in Hartford. Signing up for time slots ahead of time is advised for busy times. They had “tree juice” which you could taste. It was great. I say it was like coconut water, but with a hint of maple flavor and sweetness.

https://www.realartways.org/event/tree-spa-for-urban-forest-healing/2019-03-16/

Alvarium Beer Company

365 John Downey Dr b, New Britain, CT 06051

https://alvariumbeer.com/

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.

Atmosphere/vibe

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.

couch seating area near the back
canning operations and cooler

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.

Brewery Labyrinth Brewing Company

148 Forest St, Manchester, CT 06040

https://labyrinthbrewingcompany.com/

Hours: Mon-Thurs 4-9 Fri 4-10 Sat 12-10 Sun 12-6

I went mid February on a Sunday towards the end of the day. They were very busy. There were 3 of us, and originally we couldn’t find a place to sit. We found a bar area for 2 of us with 1 standing, then someone vacated their table, and we swooped in and nabbed it. It was a cold, but otherwise sunny, beautiful, and snow free day.

They do not sell food. They sell only select beer in cans and fill growlers. There was a food truck outside for BBQ. It looked good. I didn’t get anything, but my friends did get something right before they left. I don’t know if it was good or not, but walking past the BBQ food truck smelled delicious. The food truck was for Thomas Smokey Pit Stop.

Atmosphere/vibe: Live cover music. Loud… lots of dogs. Lots of varied seating, lots of plugs everywhere for phones.  With exposed brick, shiney wood, hanging numbered mug over the bar, and a variety of seating options, it has a fun, lively atmosphere. The building has a set up to be friendly to wheelchairs.  It is a longish brick building with a small but adequate parking lot. It is in a revitalized industrial area with old mills converted into businesses and apartments. This building looks newer and is set apart from the other larger mills. There are flame simulated torches outside.
They haven’t even been open a year yet. They opened in Aug 2018.

Very friendly bartenders that were fun and talkative, but expeditious and multitasking. It was very busy, and the bartenders were doing a very good job keeping up with everything while still bringing a lively vibe.

Beer: I really love their flight layout. It is a circle, unlike the usual rectangular I’ve seen at most breweries. It is charming. I was charmed. 5 snifter glasses are part of a flight. Did I mention I was charmed? Charmed I say.

Wyvern’s boysenberry: This is a wheat beer. It was excellent very fruity, but not overly sweet or unnecessarily saacrine. Many fruit beers make the mistake of being too sweet.  The Wyvern’s Boysenberry does not make that mistake. The beer has lovely color, very appealing. Just writing about it now makes me kinda want one. If you head there and they have it on tap you need to try it.

Imperial Stout: While not listed on their description, this is a coffee stout. It smells like coffee grounds, as opposed to smelling  like coffee itself. They are two distinct flavors and smells. It tastes like chocolate covered espresso beans. I’m not a fan of coffee beer as a general rule. If you like coffee beer then you should try this. It is a unique beer worth trying. The taste in my mouth after is nice. I wouldn’t want to drink a lot of it, but I did really like the after taste in my mouth.

Baba Yaga: This a berliner weisse. It was tart, but not pucker your mouth into wrinkles tart. I liked it. I really loved the name. It advertised cranberry. I don’t remember much cranberry, but I really did like it anyway.

Wail of the Banshee. This is a Scottish ale. It claims caramel notes and butterscotch. I get caramel notes with a light efervescent after taste. I sadly did not get butterscotch. I did like it.

Bugbear:  This is a strong bitter bear. It is very bread-dy but not too  bitter. It claims caramel notes, but I didn’t get caramel notes. It was a fine bear. Not my favorite from the flight, but it is a solid beer. It really reminds me of a nutty bread.

Cloverleigh: I don’t have a lot to say about this one. It is a completely me issue. It has a very strong clove flavor… too strong. I’m not a fan of cloves.

Parking: There is an adequate parking lot.

The area is safe, but I don’t believe it would be safe to walk there. There aren’t any sidewalks on the main street, or any lighting. If you are going there at night, then drive, don’t walk. That is, unless, you like at one of those mills converted into apartments. That would be a fine jaunt.

I was very impressed by Labyrinth Brewery. It has a nice vibe, a comfortable tap room. I liked the variety of beer they had. I wasn’t thrilled with the music. It was loud and mediocre, but the brewery itself was really good. I plan on going back after the Year of Beer is over.

Why you should go: Good beer. Like I said before, they have a large selection of beer. They show their chops by having a variety of well made beers. They don’t limit themselves to IPAs, remember this is just their first year open, and most new breweries do. They have solid beers, a fun and energetic tap room with a variety of seating. There is bar seating for communal drinking. There are tables for groups. There are secondary standing ledges. It has a variety of areas to maximize the amount of people who can comfortably drink beer in the taproom.

What could be improved: Not a lot of complaints. I didn’t like the clove beer, but that isn’t on them. I just don’t like cloves. I didn’t like the live music, but also that isn’t on them. Really, I think this is a solid brewery that anyone interested in beer and lives in Ct should show up to and give them a fair shake.

2nd Bridge Brewery

642 Hilliard St, Manchester, CT 06042

Hours Thurs 4-9 Fri 3-9 Sat 12-9 Sun 12-5

I went on a Sunday in mid-February mid afternoon. The place has 2 small rooms and was decently busy.

They do not offer food, however, they encourage bringing a lunch, or ordering take out or deliver from local restaurants. I went with friends and we stopped at a restaurant called Shady Glen. It was an… interesting restaurant. The outside ring were where the booths and counter service seats were located. The inside ring was where the cooks cooked and the wait staff walked. They never left the inside ring. It is a place lost in the 50s. Not just merely a 50’s style diner, but rather a restaurant where the prices, decor, outfits, and cash only payment style hasn’t changed in the last 5 decades… at least. Food was good and cheap, but this blog is about beer, so let’s get back to 2nd Bridge Brewery.

Atmosphere/vibe:

It wasn’t quite a sports pub, but more a small town UK pub that sports fans hang out at. Dogs were welcome. We actually saw a group with a dog later that day at another brewery as my friends and I went to 3 breweries throughout the day. There were tables with benches against the wall, high top tables in the middle of the main room, and then counter seats by the taps. In the smaller first room there were a few tables and a dart board against the wall. There were scarves of UK teams hanging up around and sportsball on a TV, but there was also local art on the wall. It didn’t have a sports bar vibe, but rather long hang out where many are interested in sportsball.

Service was good. We could easily get the attention of bartenders when we wanted them. We didn’t sit at the bar, but at one of the high tables in the middle of the room. Jasmine was friendly and knowledgeable. You can tell when people are enjoying their day and interacting with people.

What about the Beer?

They didn’t have a large selection of beers I was interested it and we were hitting 3 breweries that day, so I split a flight with a friend. That way we both could taste multiple, but since I was driving I wouldn’t have too much.

Sock Hop: It had a neat crisp tart clean taste… not too much apple, not too strong. This was an apple beer that I believe was a guest tap.

Know your onions: It was strong, verging on Medicinal. This was an English strong bitter ale. It is something that is interesting, worth trying, but an acquired taste. You need to enjoy a bitter beer to enjoy this.

Brug Heght: It is a dark Belgian with front bitter that turns smooth upon more drinking. It was my favorite of the beers we had there. It is very malty.

Parking

It has an adequate parking lot. The brewery is not particularly safe to walk to. There are no sidewalks on the main busy street, which is not lit at night.  This is an old industrial part of town. It is definitely somewhere you drive to. There are other businesses in this old industrial factory complex. Most of them aren’t going to be open during the brewery’s hours, so the parking lot will be more or less available.

Overall: I liked it. I liked the bartender, Jasmine. I liked the beer, I liked the ambience, even if it wasn’t catered to me.

Why you should go: They have interesting beers. I really liked their dark Belgian. If you like UK football (soccer) It is a great atmosphere for watching matches. It is cozy and comfortable. I like that they have a guest tap cider option.

What could be improved: They are a small brewery so they don’t always have a lot of options on tap. More options as they expand would be great.