As food bloggers here in Fairfield County, we’ve seen the food & beverage scene grow immensely since we started back in 2010. One of the biggest areas in the food and bev biz to kick some serious butt has been CT breweries! Just think, in 2011, we had just 16 breweries, in 2012 we had 21 breweries, in 2013 there were 23, and now, we have 30 in-state breweries that are open with 45 breweries slated to be open by 2015*. Doing the math on that, that’s current growth of a whopping 81.25% since 2011! And the best thing is, these breweries are not just about making beer for beer’s sake…they’re about making good beer that we can all be darn proud of! Which brings us to our point…
Not enough of the rest of the U.S. knows about all the great beers CT has to offer and it’s about time they did! Now, to be fair, some of this is due to limited distribution, although things are getting better. As example, The CT Brewers Guild has become a unifying force in putting CT beer forward as a whole with an all for one and one for all mentality. And, this past year has seen CT breweries take sizable steps into new markets like Two Roads pushing into NYC, MA, and Rhode Island, Half Full pouring out brews in Westchester County, Thomas Hooker bringing suds to MA, NJ, NY, and PA and Overshores even expanding distribution to Washington, DC.
But distribution aside, our biggest issue, and area of opportunity is with the national beer “experts,” “writers,” and “list-makers” who have given CT the short end of the stick. Well, these two CT beer guzzlers have had enough! So, let’s rally together to get the word out there on how awesome the CT beer scene is and how amazing our beer really is. Let’s get CT the recognition it deserves! And when better to start than CT Beer Week?
Here are some highlights of all good things CT beer to get you started…
Connecticut certainly isn’t short on events with beer as the main focus. From Oktoberfests, to beer dinners, to beer tastings, to tap takeovers, to special releases and collaboration brews, to beer fests galore, CT has something to keep you busy drinking! There were so many festivals going on over the past few months that we, honestly, couldn’t even keep up and couldn’t attend every event…though we tried. And, we’re not talking about events with 100 or 200 people either…we’re talking about thousands of people, all ready and set to get their CT beer on.
Being Fairfield Countiers, we’ve really enjoyed Harbor Brew Fest in Bridgeport and feel like it gets better and better each year. While this festival highlights great and amazing beer from all over, it does a great job of centering in on CT beer. In fact, when you go, you’ll notice that the local breweries tend to be the ones that have longer lines. It gives people a chance to meet with the brewers and owners, and it also gives them a chance to try some brews that they’ve never had before. And, if you’re looking to get your complete CT beer fix, it’s simple if you hit up the CT Brewers Guild Brewfest! So many great local breweries represented, so many pours, so much fun. Hell, we drove two hours just to check it out and loved that we were able to try breweries in CT that we had never had the chance to try before. That’s where our obsession with DuVig‘s Cream Ale and Stubborn Beauty was born.
Brews of Renown
Even though interstate distribution for CT beer is a growing venture, that doesn’t stop people from CT and neighboring states from becoming obsessed with some brews. Key example: New England Brewing. If you’re a lucky duck and end up getting near a keg of Fuzzy Baby Ducks, you see it go from full to empty in an hour because its status as a legendary IPA is firmly cemented, secured by rave reviews, a cult folllowing, and a perfect 100 score on Beer Advocate. In fact, this beer was recognized by First We Feast as possibly being “The Next Heady Topper,” another cult brew that sells out just as fast from VT. We’ve had both, but we couldn’t honestly say which one is better because we love them both.
And then there’s the amazing beer release parties that Two Roads Brewing in Stratford puts on. Hundreds of people lining up to get their limited release bottles of Igor’s Dream, Sour Pucker, Urban Funk, or their newest iterations such as Philsamic. No iPhone is at the end of that long and winding line to get a bottle, just some highly sought after beer that people don’t mind waiting for. Whether it’s to take home and drink, to collect, to share with friends, or even to trade with other brew enthusiasts, their beer release parties are a specactle that shows how people can’t get enough of Two Roads’ CT brews.
And, there are plenty of other brews around the state that get big press and lots of attention. New to the scene, Shebeen Brewery in Wolcott, has been gathering more fans everyday with their creative, inventive, and unique brews that push the boundaries of traditional beer. Case in point: Cannoli Beer. It’s a popular brew in CT that people say you need to try at least once, has been mentioned by lots of beer enthusiasts and bloggers, and has been mentioned along with other breweries in a recent article from NY Times. At face value, you might be skeptical of what Shebeen produces: hey, how could a Concord Grape Saison really work? But, the stuff is great, it’s solid, and they’ve created real buzz in the local beer community.
A Call to Action
Now, don’t get us wrong, we aren’t saying that you should only drink CT beer, that’s silly because there is so much awesome beer out in different states and from different countries. But, what we are saying is that there are plenty of brews being produced here in the Nutmeg State that can stand up to some of the other awesome beers being produced throughout America. You love that IPA from Stone? Well, it just might be possible that you love Two Roads Road 2 Ruin just as much or even more. It’s about branching out, being a beer explorer, trying new things.
And the craft beer of community is certainly helping to get CT beer on the map more and to make sure that we get better press than we have in recent months. CT Beer Trail has started a campaign that we feel people really need to get on board with: bars and restaurants throughout the state that have a nice amount of taps should have at least two CT beers available at all times. We can get down with that. And, the CT Brewers Guild along with CT Beer Trail has put out a brand new app that’s on Android and will soon be on iPhones called The Connecticut Craft Brewers Guild Beer Guide. You can save favorite breweries, checkin, view upcoming events, and even find your way from one brewery to the next with a nice little GPS feature.
So, get on out there, drink some CT beer and let people know what you love. Hashtag it on Twitter and Instagram with #CTbeer, tag and mention the breweries that you love all across social media. Tell your friends about a beer you’ve loved that’s on tap…if you’re daring, give them a sip! Be the advocates for the breweries that you love: if your local liquor shop or watering hole doesn’t carry their beer, then put in that request. That’s usually all it takes.
Wrapping up here, we’ve gathered some great sites and bloggers to follow who know a helluva lot about CT beer and are amazing supporters (please let us know if we should add anyone):
James Gribbon’s “Friday Froth” on CTbites
And here’s a list of breweries, brewpubs, and upcoming breweries. Did we miss any? Let us know!
- Aspetuck Brew Lab (In the works)
- Back East Brewing Company
- Beaver Beer (MA production)
- Bent Fork (In the works)
- Beer’d Brewing Co.
- Black Hog Brewing Co.
- Black Pond Brewing
- Broad Brook Brewing
- Bru Rm at BAR (Brewpub)
- Cambridge House Brewing Company (Brewpub)
- Charter Oak (MA production)
- City Steam Brewery Cafe
- Cottrell Brewing Company
- DuVig Brewing Co.
- East Haddam Brewing Company
- Firefly Hollow Brewing
- Half Full Brewery
- Hartford Better Beer Company
- Hog River Brewing Co. (In the works)
- Kent Falls (In the works)
- Left Lane Brewing (In the works)
- Lost Elm Artisinal Ales (In the works)
- New England Brewing Company
- No Worries Brewing (In the works)
- OEC Brewing
- Olde Burnside Brewing Company
- Outer Light Brewing Company
- Overshores Brewing Co.
- Powder Hollow Brewery (In the works)
- Relic Brewing
- Shebeen Brewing
- Southport Brewing Company Restaurant & Brewery
- Steady Habit Brewing
- Still Hill Brewery (In the works)
- Stony Creek Brewery
- Stubborn Beauty Brewing
- Thimble Island Brewing Co.
- Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
- Tidal River Brewing
- Top Shelf Brewing
- Two Roads Brewing Company
- Veracious Brewing (In the works from Maltose Express)
- Weed Brewing Company
- Witchdoctor Brewing Co. (In the works)
- Willimantic Brewing Company (Brewpub)