Posts Tagged by craft beer

Connecticut Brewers Fest 2014 at Two Roads Brewing Company

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Connecticut is becoming a hot bed for craft breweries.  They seem to be popping up everywhere and each one has some very unique offerings.  Last night one of my favorite local breweries, Two Roads Brewing Company, hosted the Connecticut Brewers Fest where over 20 breweries came together under one roof for an epic tasting!

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Two Roads is located in a huge 100 year old factory in Stratford, CT.  The first floor houses the brewery and the second floor is home to huge tasting room and event space. Many of the details of the original building were kept intact and you get the feeling of stepping back into the industrial era when you walk through the doors.   

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After checking in, I received an awesome glass to commemorate the event and use as my tasting glass for the evening.  I headed into the first room where there were about 12 to 15 tasting tables set up.  The first brewery I saw was Thimble Island Brewing Company out of Branford.  I’ve enjoyed their American Ale on many occasions, so I decided to try the Coffee Stout this time and YUM!  This is a beer made for the colder months ahead and served with a good beef stew.  I was off to a good start.  

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I moved on to try a Cannoli Ale from Shebeen Brewing in Wolcott, Arch Amber from the Hartford Better Beer Co. and the 203 Lager from a new brewery opening up in Branford called Stony Creek.  I enjoyed them all, except that the Cannoli Beer was a bit sweet for my taste…kind of like a scotch ale.

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I was happy to find one of Connecticut’s newest breweries and a personal favorite of mine, Black Hog Brewing Company.  You might recall that I attended their opening back in August and have been excited to try their new concoctions ever since.  Here they were sampling a new Rosemary Dunkelweizen which I had never heard of before, but the rosemary peaked my interest.  I was happy to find this to be a delicious dark wheat beer with many herbal undertones.  Can I have a whole pint please?

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I moved into the main tasting room where there were about 10 more tables set up, as well as the giant Two Roads bar where you could taste their entire selection.  This room also overlooks the brewery floor where people were still hard at work bottling.  Seriously, this place is massive…

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As I’m sure you can tell by now, I prefer the darker, maltier beers to the hoppy IPAs.  IPAs are really big among craft beer lovers, but I just find them a bit to bitter for me.  There was a large crowd gathered around the Beer’d Brewing Co. table (love the name!) which meant they probably had a great selection.  However there were only IPAs available to taste.  I tried the L.I. Connection which I was told was the maltiest of the bunch, but I didn’t really enjoy it as I expected.  But Beer’d did take the prize for best logo and taps 🙂

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I sought out a few more beers I might enjoy and found quite a few good contenders among the other breweries.  There was the Octoberfest Ale and Season of the Witch from Broad Brook Brewing Company in East Windsor, Weed Amber Ale from the newly operating Weed Company in Cheshire, and one of my favorites from the night Emily’s Chocolate Coconut Porter from Firefly Hollow Brewing Co. in Bristol. Oh man was that delicious!!

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My last stop was to the Two Roads bar to finally get a taste of their Rosemary’s Baby Pumpkin Ale.  I had see the poster for the beer earlier in the year and had been looking forward to trying it.  I’m not a huge pumpkin fan but this was really good.  Had more of a vanilla cinnamon flavor to it…big win!

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Before leaving I checked out some of the merchandise from the Two Roads shop and from the CT Beer Trail table.  Yes, there is a Beer Trail in CT and yes, you should definitely check it out!  There were a lot of fun shirts but I showed some restraint…

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On my way out I took a look at the three food trucks that were set up outside for the event.  The Local Meatball, Bounty and Lobstercraft.  Two Roads has a different food truck visit each day and you can bring it all inside to enjoy with your beer…pretty cool.  The hot buttered lobster roll was hard to pass up, but I had dinner waiting at home so I kept on walking…sigh…

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This was a really fun event and kudos to Two Roads for hosting all of these breweries that are essentially their competition.  It goes to show how great the brewery community is here in CT.

Do you have any local breweries you enjoy in your areas?  What is your favorite beer?

**I was invited to attend this event but was not required to write a review.  All opinions are my own and I  just LOVE good beer**

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Black Hog Brewing Co. Grand Opening

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Local breweries in Connecticut are really starting to make a name for themselves and the newest one to join the ranks is Black Hog Brewing Co.  Black Hog is the creation of Jason and Tom Sobocinski of Caseus Fromagerie Bistro in New Haven and Tyler Jones, former brewer at The Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire.  During all of their family celebrations, Jason and Tom have roasted a hog, so Black Hog was an obvious choice to name this brewery celebrating all things family and food.

Even though Black Hog started distributing around Connecticut in July and is already in over 100 locations statewide, yesterday was the grand opening of their tasting room in Oxford, CT!  After hopping off of a plane from our week in Florida, B and I headed straight there to support the opening.  How could I miss it?  I’ve been super excited about this since they announced the brewery back in the spring!    

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By the time we arrived, it was packed!  There was a long line to get inside the 3,500 ft. brewery to taste all of the beers Black Hog currently has to offer.  Once inside you could choose from a pint or squealer (Black Hog’s 32 oz version of a growler – very clever) of one of their four year round brews or a tasting of any of their current seven offerings. 

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Black Hog prides itself on using ingredients from local farms that can be found in their Farmland Series and they even grow some of them right outside including hops and strawberries.  This series will feature a new brew every season and donate part of the proceeds to the Working Lands Alliance.  Currently in the works is a Basil Pale Ale!

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So let’s look at all the beers Black Hog currently has to offer!

Year Round Brews

Ginja Ninja is a Red India Pale Ale infused with fresh ginger.  This is a refreshing brew with only a slight hoppiness to it.  It’s perfect for a warm summer day or maybe paired with your favorite fall dish.

Easy Rye’ Da is an easy drinkin’ low ABV Rye India Pale Ale.  Due to the low ABV, this brew can be sipped on all day long and is perfect paired with a cheese board to bring out those grassy undertones.

Granola Brown is a Brown Ale brewed with a granola mix of oatmeal, grains, hops and roasted malts.  Remember that roasted pig that this brewery was founded on, this here is its perfect pairing.

Nitro Coffee Milk Stout combines a sweet stout with organic Columbian Supremo and Espresso roasted coffees.  This brew is lighter than your typical stout and has a lovely silky texture that comes from being poured over Nitrogen gas lines. 

Seasonal Brew

S.W.A.G. is a Summer Wheat Ale brewed with grapefruit peel.  This contains everything you want in a summer brew.  It’s has the light wheat flavor with bitter citrus notes from the grapefruit.  A perfect pair with a lobster roll on the water.

Farmland Series

Strawberry Gose is a German-style Wheat Beer infused with organic strawberries from Massaro Farm in Woodbridge, CT as well as coriander and pink Himalayan sea salt.  This just screams summer!

The Hop Collective (T.H.C. Series)

THC Chinook is a Single Hopped American Pale Ale.  This brew has piney aromatics and notes of exotic spices.   

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While on line, I grabbed a pint of Granola Brown and after about 30 minutes I made it up to the tasting bar.  Now to decide which four beers I wanted to try!

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Since I already had the Granola Brown (which is DELICIOUS!), I decided to try Easy Rye’ Da, Ginga Ninja, Nitro Coffee Milk Stout and THC Chinook.  Look at the awesome branded paddle for the samples!

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No Sobocinski celebration would be complete without a hog roast of course!  Jason roasted up an 80-pound hog for his guests, but sadly by the time we arrived it was all gone!  That’s right folks, 80 pounds of deliciousness gone in 2 hours.  

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Thankfully The Cheese Truck was on-site to deliver some crispy, melty goodness.  The perfect pairing with some craft beer. 

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Since I’m a fan of darker and not so hoppy beers, the Granola Brown was right up my alley. I knew I was going to love this beer from the first time I read the description and I’m so glad it will be available year round.  I also really liked the Coffee Milk Stout and surprisingly so did B!  It was smooth and had a subtle coffee flavor…YUM!  The other 3 weren’t my style.  I’m not a fan of Pale Ales because they are generally too hoppy for me which these were, but I did enjoy the Ginga Ninja.  It was refreshing and would be nice on a hot day. 

My friend Ashley came and met us there and we all had a great afternoon!  I will definitely be back to the tasting room to try more of Black Hog’s seasonal and limited release series as they come out and I’m looking forward to seeing more taps in restaurants around the state. 

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Have you tried Black Hog Brewing Co.?  What is your favorite local brewery?  

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