Ct Valley Brewing Company

Address: 765 Sullivan Ave South Windsor

HoursWed. & Thurs. – 3PM to 8PM
Fri. & Sat. – 12PM to 9PM
Sun. – 12PM to 6PM

I went on a Sat with some friends. We pulled into the parking lot right at noon. I thought I would be the first there, but there was already some people at the bar. We got a table right next to the bar. It wasn’t very busy right at opening. There were about 3 or 4 people at the bar.

The food truck was setting up around noon when we got there

They do not offer food. We got there right when they were opening, and there was a food truck parked outside that was preparing for food service. It looks like that is a normal set up. The food truck looked interesting.

Back in the brewing room there was a woman setting up tables which looked like for a party. I’m guessing that they have birthday parties and such. The main tasting room was VERY big. It was a very large room. Off of the main room (although  glass french doors were closed) was another good sized room. I can see this room being used for events, or private parties. This place has space in spades. It had an “airplane theme” with pictures of airplanes, vintage propellers, etc. The whole place had a very “man cave” restaurant theme. There were big tvs with sportsball on them. It really went with the man/bar restaurant vibe. If you are into the sports theme restaurant bar, it has it in spades. I went with 2 friends on a Sat morning in early February. They had the inside decorated for Valentines Day with pink and red paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The place had a VERY “restaurant feel”, but they do not serve food which felt a little disconnected.  The bathrooms were VERY clean. Probably the cleanest bathrooms in a brewery/bar that I’ve seen. The whole place was very clean.

The very clean and well stocked bathroom with a fantastic floor!

There is no table service or food service. You can go up to the bar to order your beer.  Service is acceptable, no complaints of negligence. It was not overly engaging. A lot of the breweries, maybe because of their small taprooms, seem intimate like you are part of something even if you aren’t engaging. This  has such a large room, which I think is great. I hate showing up to a brewery, especially with several people, and can’t find a seat. No problems here, but couple that with lack of homey engagement from staff it feels a little… stiff. It would have been nicer to have a little more engagement with staff. I like to talk about the beers and brewing. They had the aura of “we are here to help you if you need help, otherwise we are busy.”

The Ct River Valley Brewing Company is a very IPA heavy brewery. I didn’t try any of the IPA, because I don’t like IPA. I did like that they had half pours. I’m not sure if they do flights, but I liked that they have half pours so that you can try several or one. They have cans. I was disappointed. They had a sour on their tap  list, but it was crossed out. They did have a sour in cans. Had they had the sour on tap and I tried it, I would have been very likely to buy it in cans. Sours don’t get canned often at breweries.

They did have a stout on tap, but it was a coffee stout, which I’m not a big fan of. I ended up ordering a half pour of the Double wasp Doppelbock lager. One of my friends ordered the Ace of Aces Lager. She does not like hoppy beer, but she enjoyed the lager very much. Her words were “When I burp it has a good flavor.” “I  don’t know how to talk about beers, but I could say it was crisp.” “It’s not very bitter.”

I enjoyed the Double Wasp as well. It had a nice flavor. It was creamy, a little sweet, but I wouldn’t say it was a “Sweet” beer, it just had a little sweetness to it. There were a little nutty toasty to the flavor. I liked it.

I have to say the artwork on the cans is great. Really awesome artwork. I was really disappointed they did not have a sour on tap.

Plenty of parking. There is no lack of parking. There are handicaps spots, and there aren’t any steps to get inside. It is very handicap friendly, however all of the bar stools and high tops (near the bar) are going to be difficult for handicapped. There are shorter tables farther away from the bar, but then anyone in a wheelchair will be quite a ways away from the bar.

Area and safety

It is in a rural area. Easy to pass as they do not have a large sign on the building and do not have a logo sign out at the street. It is set back from the street. The area seems like a safe parking lot at night, but I wouldn’t walk there at night. It is a busy main road that doesn’t seem lit for pedestrians and doesn’t have sidewalks.


They had an extra closed off room that would be great for private events and parties.

Overall: It lacks the intimate vibe that many of the breweries in Ct have. It feels more like a chain restaurant. I think this could be combated by adding homey elements. It seems like it would be easy to rearrange their VERY LARGE tap room into areas, perhaps some comfy couches and chairs in little intimate seating areas. Maybe adding some kind of break up of the restaurant-like rows of tables. The very beige walls didn’t help.  Dunno… It just felt very chain-restaurant. I wanted something more intimate and homey. They seem to have a great following, so that might be my opinion.

Why you should go: If you like the sports bar guys restaurant vibe it is the vibe for you. They have a lot of IPAs. They seem to be able to accommodate private parties with a separate room. They are very clean and have lots of space and parking. They seem to have events like beer and chocolate pairings. Several advertisements were poste on this.

What could be improved: They don’t have a lot of non-IPA selections, but the 2 we tried were good. If you are looking for the local craft brewery intimate feel it doesn’t have it. It has more of a generic dude chain sports restaurant vibe. The staff weren’t very interactive.

Advertisements

Mama Bear Growls

Or rather… not yet?

Anyone even remotely aware of the craft brewery scene is aware of a few basic facts.

  1. Breweries seem to really rely on the sticker as a marketing strategy. I have also seen very few people actively use them…
  2. People who frequent craft breweries seem to like growlers.
  3. Growlers are glass jugs of various sizes and bedecked with various designs and logos that can be filled (but not consumed) at the breweries. They are taken home and consumed rather quickly to preserve quality

So… I have yet to get into the growler thing. I’m not opposed… but I just haven’t done it. They are an awkward size to fit in my fridge. I don’t consume large amounts of beer by myself at home. Occasionally I will like opening a beer in the evening, but that is a lot of commitment to beer drinking in a short span. Being the only beer drinker in the house (My toddler is firmly in the apple juice camp and my husband doesn’t drink) it is a large commitment. I’m tempted, sure… but I’m afraid I won’t drink it fast enough and it will go stale. Yet I occasionally taste a delicious beer and I say to myself, “Self, speak to yon barkeep and request to take their wares to your domicile!” to which I am informed they don’t bottle or can and they only fill growlers. Yes yes it makes sense. There is a lot of overhead cost and potential loss in the canning and bottling business. I’ve not ruled out the growler club, but I just don’t know if it is for me.

As an addendum, I know someone who has some growlers and wants me to take it to get it filled on one of my trips. I think we will see how that works.

Little House Brewing

Address: 16 Main St, Chester, CT

https://www.littlehousebrewing.com/

Hours: Wed & Thurs: 3pm – 8pm Fri: 2pm – 9pm Sat: Noon – 9pm
Sun: Noon – 6pm

I went on a Friday night in early February. The weather was good. I went later at night about an hour before closing. It was very busy, but we were still able to find a table.

They do not offer food. They do list that they allow you to BYOF, however, the list a lot of restaurants in the area the suggest within walking distance of their building to have dinner at. I went wit Thai Riverside which was very good.

Oozing with small town charm

The atmosphere was cozy. While very busy it didn’t seem overcrowded. They had really lovely glassware. The design is smart on the pint glasses. It is minimalist and quaint and New Englandy. Like many placed they had a wooden plank with holes for the tasting pours. The vibe of the place was a cozy hidden gem of a local spot at a ski lodge. I’m sure nobody was toting ski gear, but I feel like in my mind’s eye they should have. It is a small room, but didn’t feel overwhelming small. I believe there might be an outside patio in the back when the weather is nicer, but I’m not certain. There was a back door that seemed to lead that way and it seemed to be set up for that. My one big annoying, glaring, disappointing, gripe was their bathrooms were pretty disgusting. It was college bar on a Thursday night disgusting. It was a single room unisex bathroom… It looked like drunk guys didn’t bother to aim. The floor was sticky. There was toilet paper and paper towels all over the floor. It decimated the charm I was enchanted by when I walked in the door. If I wanted to go to a college bar bathroom, I would have done it while in college. Note I didn’t in college because college bar bathrooms are disgusting.

The bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly. The staff are easy to access for drinks. They are astute to notice when someone approaches, yet have casual conversation with the people sitting at the bar and those ordering at the same time. It does not take long to get a drink if you want one.

So, let’s talk about the beer.

I did a flight which included

Kirby’s Kolsch: It is a German style beer. Very solid. I enjoyed it very much.

Winchester:  It is very malty. I like malty. It is a wheat beer that is very light. It is a low alcohol beer, but doesn’t sacrifice flavor. It is clean flavor.

Little Bear: It delivers on flavor and is satisfyingly smooth. There are hints of chocolate, vanilla, and toasted coconut. I really cannot stress enough how smooth it was. How smooth you ask? VERY

Molasses Disaster: As someone who lived in Massachusetts for most of my teenage years and through college, I really do love the name and the token nod to the Boston Molasses Disaster. They really come forward on the molasses flavor. It is front and center and bold. Go big or go home bold.

My flight

Parking: there is literally no parking at the brewery. There is some very limited on street parking along the main street where the brewery is located. There are some lots nearby listed on their website. I parked at the restaurant we at at, Thai Riverside, and left my car there. As the restaurant was in the process of closing and there were no other businesses open in that little strip I had no problems leaving my car there, but during times where those businesses are open there might be an issue.

The area is very safe. While you do have to cross some main streets, it is a very walkable small town feel and there are plenty of crosswalks and lighting.

Overall I liked the place. The beer was a combination of solid traditionals and experimentals that pulled it off. I like that. It was just overflowing with charm and being adorable.

Why you should go: They have some excellent beer. The atmosphere is charming and cozy. The glassware is charming. The staff are charming. It is like Hallmark Movie charming. I’m expecting the hurried businessman from a big made up Hartford insurance company who is stuck here while selling his grandmother’s house and happen to run into the woman who owns a cupcake shop or a dog grooming business and they agreed to have a drink would show up here for their charming argument where she introduces the concept that he needs to stop and take more joy in life. Literally… I’m expecting that to happen in this small town cozy brewery. The only thing that would make my imaginary scene more Hallmark is if there was a Golden Retriever. Hold on a second… lemme go check their website… Well, they don’t say that dogs are allowed at the brewery, but they also don’t say they AREN’T allowed.

What can be improved: Their bathrooms are absolutely disgusting. There is limited parking. My big big big complaint is that the bathrooms are really disgusting.

I’m going to go off on a wee little tangent here. While I’m trying to focus on getting as many stamps on my brewery passport (50) to get the VIP pass to the Ct Brewery festival. I don’t have unlimited free time to go back to breweries I’ve already gone to. I’m in the process of making a short list of those I plan on going back to more regularly when I’m not trying to hit 50 in 1 year, but the Little House brewing just sent me an email with their new on tap beer.

There is a Pilsner, a Double IPA (which I have no interest in at all), and a dark chocolaty malty beer. Then, in their tanks they have

Sleepy Bee – Honey Kölsch, Hell Melon – Munich Helles, TBA – Blood Orange Sour Lager, Brutal Brunch – Brut Mimosa IPA (collab w/ Bad Dream Brewing), Gone Muddin’ – Coffee Porter, Home Grown 5 – All CT-grown Pale Ale, Three Sheep for an Ore – West Coast IPA, Wave Racer – Milkshake IIPA

I’m super interested in this Honey Kolsch, Sour Lager, and am even curious about this brut mimosa IPA. I am sorely tempted if I happen to be in the town in the next month to stop by a second time.

Fox Farm Brewery



Address 62 Music Vale Rd, Salem, CT

Link http://www.foxfarmbeer.com/

Hours Thurs-Fri 2-7 Sat/Sun 11-5pm

I went on a Friday around 5pm in early February. The weather was brisk, but nice and we still had daylight when we arrived.

Food is not available. Their website states that you can bring light snacks for consumption on premises, but due to limited seating they would rather you didn’t bring a large sit down meal. There were not food trucks.

Atmosphere/vibe: Is “farm hipster” a thing? There was a cross between clean industrialism and woodsy. There was a 2nd floor balcony catwalk open to to the downstairs. There were some tables up there. There was a counter that runs around the edge of the wall with backless stools to sit on. It was busy, but not uncomfortably crowded.

They had open viewable access to the brewing area.

Service: They had a separate line for growler fills and several registers open for buying beer to drink on site. The bartenders were friendly and informed.



The Cabin: Didn’t think I’d like it, but the smoke comes through nicely.  It has a tang.

Amble: I didn’t like it. It was a very hoppy IPA, but don’t take umbrage at it because I said this. I don’t like IPA, so I’m a an unreliable narrator.

Gather (Pilsner) Crisp, clean, solid Pilsner, classic

Hearthbound Porter: I liked this one a lot. It was creamy, nutty, and toasty. It has a full body and was very smooth. It is a really nice beer.

Parking: There is plenty of parking. It is a large parking lot.

Area and safety: The area is off in the woods. You can’t walk there.

Why you should go: It is a clean, organized place. The Porter I had was really good. They have small pores, which I like. Their outside area looks nice (but it was too cold to use in when I went in February)

What could be improved: Having a food truck outside would be nice. They have mostly ales. It would be nice to have more of a variety then primarily ales.

What in the IPA hell?

India Pale Ale, or variations of pale ales have the fastest turnover for craft brewers and home brewers. Between 2-5 weeks and BAM a new batch of beer is made. Brewers can experiment. Failures aren’t as big a deal with a fast turnover. I feel like there is a chicken and egg thing here. Making IPA is cheaper and quicker so people who want to be part of the craft beer scene drink a lot of IPA because it is faster and easier to make. Do they develop a taste for it because it is what is available in the scene or are they experimenting with it because they like it? Chicken and egg.

For smaller operations that only have  they ability to have 1 or 2 brews fermenting at a time it is hard to devote expensive machinery to longer fermenting beers. Lagers generally take 2 weeks longer than IPAs. Stouts and Porters… well, generally the darker the beer the longer it is going to take to brew up it’s dark malty goodness.

Ok ok so some people like it. Some people I know like it. I’m really not sure why? But then I love pretty much anything pickled. Put it in vinegar and I’m like Boy howdy. My husband looks at me like I’m a crazy woman. When a brewery does have like 1 dark beer option 9 times out of 10 it is… *drum roll please* a coffee stout. I I think it is because they think they are being trendy. (They aren’t) It isn’t trendy because everyone else is doing it. It is trendy because everyone wants them to be doing it. I talk to a lot of friends about beer. Most of them do not want coffee in their stout, but I guess there is no accounting for taste. Is it that when a brewery ONLY has cans of Coffee Stout and IPA it is because everyone wants it, or there is so much of it because everyone doesn’t want it? I think breweries are doing it for the same reasons. It is easier…  It is hard work to make a good stout. Guiness perfected it. Yeah a nice beautiful glass of guiness with just about an inch of lovely foam is a thing of beauty. It is smooth and creamy and has a velvety mouthfeel. It is glorious… They have been making Guiness since 1759. That is literally over 250 years to perfect the glory that is the dry Irish stout we all know and love. I don’t expect a newbie brewery to crank out the perfect irish dry stout, but… stout is hard. It takes longer to make. It is harder to develop good flavors. It is less forgiving. So instead of working hard to develop complex flavors, let’s throw some coffee beans in there and WHAM BAM Thank you ma’am… We have a dark beer to offer the public. There is only 1 coffee beer that I actually like. It is from Evil Twins Brewery and is called Biscotti break. It isn’t a straight coffee beer. It has nuanced and complex flavors of which a subtle coffee flavor is one. I find when microbrewers make coffee beer the front load coffee flavor is like all the bitterness of coffee grounds. It’s like they say “there are not hops in this beer to make it bitter, let’s make it like they are drinking coffee grounds.” No thank you. Anytime a brewery has an offering of a dark beer that isn’t coffee stout/porter I want to try it. Even if I don’t like it I want to try it. I appreciate the effort it takes to craft a good dark beer! They are making a statement that they are trying to develop a beer that isn’t using coffee as a crutch. I respect that. It takes more skill and artistry. When I see a coffee stout my first gut reaction is… oh… I see they feel they need a crutch to make a stout. It makes me sad…

What often rubs me the wrong way is when breweries advertize flavors that don’t come through. If you tell me hazelnut. I want to have hints of hazelnut. If you tell me peanut butter. I want peanut butter. If you tell me chocolate. I want chocolate. If you tell me S’mores I WANT some grainy graham, some chocolate, and some creamy toasted marshmallow hints. When a brewery says Stout… I’m happy. But if it says coconut stout and there is no coconut… I’m annoyed. I probably would have liked it fine if they had just said stout, but when I’m looking for toasted coconut and don’t get it… I feel let down. Why don’t I taste it? BECAUSE IT IS HARD! Hats off to brewers who are willing to experiment with dark beers. Remember folks it is a lot more time and effort and skill to experiment with dark beers. You have to have a big pair of coconuts to make that coconut stout that may not, in fact, have hints of toasted coconut. It is easy to experiment with Apple Crisp. It is harder to experiment with Pound Cake. Baking is a science and cooking is an art. When you do something so complex as experiment with dark beers you are doing the double of baking and cooking… science AND art! Sometimes your experiments fail, but please brewers keep experimenting. Please skip the easy path of throwing coffee beans in. Didn’t they read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Don’t mix uppers and downers! Experiment with other things.

Things I would like to see in dark beers: Toasted nuts (almonds, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, etc) warm spices (cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, nutmeg not cloves… I hate cloves) hardy flavors (coconut, sage, carrot, oats, sweet potato, dates, Chili, rosemary, juniper)  Sweet flavors (caramel, maple, vanilla, cherry, chocolate, fruits)

Things I do NOT want in my dark beer. Aged in bourbon barrels, coffee, cloves, hops. Please for the love of all that is dark and foamy in my glass don’t add hops to my dark beer!

Some might notice that the term “Imperial” gets bandied about a bit, especially with stouts, but now more often as not with IPAs. Imperial used to mean one thing, then slid into a second meaning and now kinda just means a 3rd thing. It’s original meaning was for a beer brewed in Europe, then shipped to the Russian Imperial Court. So Imperial Stout meant stout that was made outside of Russia, then shipped to the Russian Imperial Court. Then brewers began selling this same beer to the people around where they were brewing. The idea then morphed into “top shelf” style beer. This is what the royals drink and you can drink it too! Now, it kinda just means that the brewers add double or triple the hops or malts to the beer. It usually makes the beer much more alcoholic. It supposedly ups the AMPS on the flavor. Imperial IPAS are going to be more hoppy. Imperial Stouts more malty. Frankly I feel that this is just another lazy way of pretending to be different. A way to “experiment” without really taking risks. Show me your coconuts. Throw some honey in my beer.

That’s my two cents. Not that it amounts to much. Brewers are going to continue to make academic dark beer with “safe” little differences like coffee and more malt. I will continue to raise one eyebrow and be mildly annoyed and every now and again I will find a brewery that does something fantastic and I will be overjoyed and sing Hallelujah and then be disappointed to find out… they only offer growlers to take home…

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.