A few weeks back, we shared some of our exploits with our doppelgänger couple, Renato and Alicia Ghio. Over the course of one day of absolute decadence, we had a crazy amount of wings at J. Timothy’s, gorged on some killer BBQ at Bear’s in Hartford, and finished up the night with some Two Roads beer at the XL Center at the Hartford Wolf Pack game. Oh, we kind of left out that we visited Relic Brewing Co. and Firefly Hollow Brewing Company in between all of that madness. Yup, when we go out, we go all out.
Up first, was Relic Brewing, just a few minutes from J. Timothy’s in Plainville. But, the brews that owner and Brewmaster Mark Sigman is putting out there are anything but plain. In fact, just by looking at the tap list on any given day, you can tell that Mark isn’t happy with putting out the same old, expected beers. In fact, at any given time, you might find the tap list full of one-offs that Mark brews that will never be brewed again. And, yes, he’ll have some seasonal favorites and even one or two of his popular year-round brews.
But, that tap list is really dependent upon the brews lasting. When we went, there was a steady stream of people coming in to fill up growlers who had taken home the brew we were most interested in: their Blackheart Black Lager. But, damn those Relic lushes took it all, but we still had some nice choices: Clockwork Pale Ale, Antiquity Old Ale, Transatlantic Belgian IPA, Biere de Noel Winter Ale, and the Double Leche Milk Stout. Our favorites were the Bière de Noel for its warm complexity and the Transatlantic for the wheat and wild taste mixed in with the hops of an IPA. Right now they have two brews available that we really want to try: The Fletcher Pale Ale and Tropicale IPA that’s brewed with orange blossom honey.
Tastings are free and squealers or growlers are priced depending on the beer. Most people stayed by the bar, tried some beer and just talked with Mark. He has a lot to share about the beer he makes and plenty to share about beer in general. There are also a few small tables in the small tasting room so you can just hang out with some friends. It’s also cool to check out all the killer artwork around the brewery, including some of the artwork from their best past labels.
After trying all the Relic brews and getting some swag, we made our way to Firefly Hollow. Supposedly the entrance is difficult to find, but we found it with no problem at all. Before we even entered we got a little sniff of something in the air . . . yes, BBQ . . . and yes, it was Farmboys BBQ. That’s definitely a cool part about coming to Firefly: they tend to have great food trucks there, just check their FB page for details.
Now, onto the brewery and the beer. Immediately, we saw a big difference between Relic and Firefly. Whereas Relic was small with a tiny bar with a steady line of people getting growler fills, Firefly Hollow had a bar that wraps around two corners and a large, expansive room. Oh, and it was packed—so packed. Workers, including brewmaster and one of the owners, Dana Bourque, were filling pints and growlers with lightning speed. Turns out that Firefly Hollow is actually a great hangout for people in Bristol. We got a spot that just so happened to be right next to Farmboys (did we do that on purpose? LOL).
When you’re ready for beer, you have a few choices: you can buy a flight, a pint, or fill up a squealer (1L) or growler (2L). When we went, we were so very excited to see the Wisp American Pale Ale, the Toadstool Oat Stout, Ye Olde Twinkler Barleywine, and the much lauded Cone Flakes Double IPA. We got flights, headed back to our table, then took down beer after beer. All the brews we had were good, but we especially loved the Toadstool, Twinkler, and the Cone Flakes IIPA. The color on that Imperial IPA was just sick—it was this beautiful glowing, almost-neon orange.
In fact, we all loved Cone Flakes so much that we got two squealers worth before we left along with bottles of Imperial Choconaut Porter: one for the Del Ferraros, one for the Ghios. That porter btw? SICK! So much cocoa flavor, very intense. And, like that, we were off to destroy some more BBQ (Matt and the Farmboy crew let us try some) at Bear’s in Hartford. It’s a great choice for a beer drinker with no charge at all for BYOB.
So, hopefully you can stop by both of these breweries that offer something unique to the CT beer scene. And, even if you can’t make it, hopefully you can pick some bottles up around CT or check out some of their brews on tap at your local watering hole.
What are some of your favorite beers from these breweries?
Relic Hours: Thursdays and Fridays from 4-7 and Saturdays from 12-4.
Firefly Hollow Hours: Thursdays and Fridays from 2-8, Saturdays from 12-8, and Sundays from 12-5.
*Special thanks to @CTbrewtopian for helping out with some info. Much appreciated.