Brewfest at the Ives Center
Here's a picture of the gang (Bob, Chris, & Damian) hoisting one of several samples of beer at the Connecticut On Tap craft beer festival at the Charles Ives Center on WesConn's westside campus. This was on Saturday the 13th. Fortunately, there were some very large tents set up as it rained during the festival. Oddly enough, the rain started just as Chris and I got there and ended with a mere fifteen minutes to go.
It's been three years since I've been to a brewfest. I admit that they were getting a bit repetitive and losing some of their lustre, so I took a break. I'd wanted to go to a "Beer, Bacon, and Bourbon" fest in upstate NY over the summer, but those plans fell through. Anyway, this one purported to be primarily Connecticut breweries with several other notables represented by distributors (I think). It was good to be back in one of these again, though I had a wicked case of heartburn later on.
I saved my notes. By no means were we able to sample everyone, nor did it appear that every brewer listed on the menu attended. C'est la vie.
Back East Brewing Company (Bloomfield, CT) was there with their namesake ale and the Misty Mountain IPA. The menu listed them as bringing their porter (a must have for me), but they didn't have enough to bring (or some other lame excuse). I settled for their namesake ale, and it was good.
Black Hog Brewing (Oxford, CT) was new to me. Apparently, they bought Cavalry Brewing's shop and equipment back in May (RIP Big Wally Porter). I went with the Granola Brown and liked it a lot. Must've been the chocolate malt.
Cambridge House has been at several local brewfests that I've attended in the past. They're a brewpub located in Granby, CT. I had their Big Hoppy. I'm not one for extremely hopped beers, so I wasn't sure what I was in for. While it was indeed hoppy, it was still quite good.
Another hoppy beer that didn't beat up my tongue was Wadsworth IPA from Charter Oak (New Canaan, CT). I've enjoyed their brown ale and pale ale in the past, but they can be a little pricey. I can now add their IPA to the list of good beer.
DuVig Brewing Company (Branford, CT) was another brewery that I'd never heard of, but they're only a year old. Apparently, their beer can only be had at restaurants and the occasional tap takeover at select bars. Bob and Chris had their Cream Ale and said it was good. I had the Brown Ale and enjoyed it immensely. It reminded me of an oatmeal stout, but in brown ale form.
Ferrari was an odd one. There's an Italian brewery called Ferrari, but these guys aren't it. I can't seem to find a website. Maybe they're on Facebook. I placed their accents at New York, and I think they were operating out of a restaurant, but I'm not sure. I tried their Pop Pop Porter, but it tasted sweet like a scotch ale. It had that honey taste to it. I left them confused.
Foolproof Brewing journeyed all the way from Pawtucket, RI, which is almost Massachusettes. They serve some of their beer in cans and some in bottles. I had the Augtoberfest, which is a seasonal bottle offering. While it was quite good, I would've loved it if they brought either their robust porter or Russian imperial stout.
Jack's Abby Brewing hails from Framingham, MA. I indulged in their Hoponius Union, which had a fruity taste to it. I assumed that it was an IPA, but in fact, it is an IPL. Yes, folks, that works.
Keegan Ales is located just over the border in Kingston, NY. Well, it's a bit of a drive from Danbury, but it's close enough. I had the Mother's Milk Stout and it was quite good. Certainly worth a trip.
Olde Burnside has become a bit of a staple at brewfests in Connecticut. It's also probably the best thing going in East Hartford. Not having had any in a while, I double dipped, recalling the fine quality of their Ten Penny (a Scotch Ale done right) and Dirty Penny (black & tan) ales.
Revival Brewing journeyed here from Providence, RI. If you're ever in Providence, as I had the good fortune to do this summer, you can find them throughout the city, including Trinity Brewhouse, their unofficial home. Anyway, I had their Double Black IPA which probably had one of the best balances of hops and chocolate malt one can possibly achieve with this style. Highly recommended.
Rogue was there, too. I don't know why. They don't brew in Connecticut. I'm not complaining though. They brought their Double Chocolate Stout, which was divine. A couple of "dudes" saw me with it, and they were like "Where did you get that?!" I helped them find it.
The Shed Brewery (there are a couple breweries with "shed" in their name) came down from Vermont. I had their Mountain Ale, which was a decent Strong English Ale. However, I wish that they'd brought their Nosedive Porter.
My first exposure to Sheeben Brewing (Wolcott, CT) was their Black Hop IPA in a can. It was not good. It seemed flat and tasted blah. I offered one to Bob, a more adventuresome beer drinker than myself, and even he didn't like it. I still have two cans in my fridge which I'm thinking of mixing with the Two Roads Ol' Factory Pils Chris left at my house. I hate pilseners, so I'm hoping two wrongs make a right.
Anyway, I wasn't optimistic when I saw them at the brewfest, but I figured that I'd give them a shot. Bob went with the Concord Grape Saison and was so surprised that he suggested that I try it. Saisons are hit or miss with me (usually miss), but I tried it anyway. It was surprising, in a good way. The sweetness balanced out the bitterness quite nicely.
I saw an old guy there (No, really. He was like 70.), and he had the Rye Porter. I said, "Ahhh, the porter. A kindred spirit." He didn't reply. Instead he took a drink and scrunched up his face. I thought, "Guess he thought I was dork. Oh well." Then I tried the porter. Ugh! It was terrible. If he loves porters as much as me, he was making a face about the beer.
I was about to move on but Damian suggested I try their Cannoli Beer. I was intrigued. I love cannolis. Cannoli flavored beer? Could it possibly be good? I tried a sample, and yes indeed, it was very good. Definitely a dessert beer.
I'll give props to Sheeben for being adventuresome, but I think that they need a tasting panel to decide if a beer should make it to market.
Around here, I typically see the same old offerings from Shipyard (Portland, ME). As such, I only really connected with their limited offerings like Smashed Blueberry and Mint Chocolate Stout. It'd been a while since I had Export so I gave it a whirl. It actually tasted kind of lagery. I didn't care for it. Now if the Blue Fin Stout ever came around, I'd give that a try.
Southport Brewing Company is a small chain of Connecticut brewpubs that I've never been to, though the food on the menu sound tasty. Their Southtoberfest was good.
And that's it. While it might seem like I drank a lot of beer, the truth is that the sampling glasses were small, like two ounces (see the above picture). Enough to give you a taste, but you'd have to work hard to get wrecked.