Mark Twain once said the best thing about writing was having written. I tend to enjoy drinking more than having drunken (which is to say, I like drankin'), but it's especially nice to have a built-in justification. Todd Ruggere has given all of us in the Constitution State just such an excuse with the CT Pour Tour, in which he will drink at least one beer this year in all 169 towns in Connecticut, and raise money at every stop for Yale Children's Hospital. Todd has published a list of when and where he'll be over the course of 2014, and I caught up with him at the CT Pour Tour launch party at Two Roads in Stratford this past Saturday.
Todd spent 2013 completing his first pour tour, traveling through all 351 towns in his home state of Massachusetts.
"The Massachusetts tour started a little bit slow, but I've already seen a huge amount of support from the people in Connecticut," he said, over a glass of Road 2 Ruin. "We raised over $40,000 last year, and I think Connecticut might even top that."
Todd had a tremendous amount of support from Jim Cook, founder of Sam Adams, who became the title sponsor of last year's tour after meeting Todd. Sponsors this year include The Little Pub, Prime 16, and Anna Liffey's, but the biggest logo on Todd's vehicle this year is that of Two Roads. If I had to guess, I'd say 300 people came out to support the Pour Tour on a cold and rainy Saturday in Stratford. Todd takes donations at ctpourtour.com, but Two Roads threw in an additional $1 per beer sold at the event (the bartenders even kicked in 10% of their tips at the end of the night), and the first day of the tour raised over $1,000.
Two Roads Brewing just celebrated its first birthday in December of 2013, inspiring brewmaster Phil Markowski to create Two Roads Anniversary Session IPA, using two of the newest hop varieties to hit the market: Mosaic and Azacca. The IPA is fully filtered, and pours a crystal clear golden color with gentle floral hops on the nose. It is very light on the tongue, with the incredibly fresh, fruity hop flavor for which Mosaics have become famous, and ends in a more citrusy aftertaste, courtesy of the Azaccas.
That light mouthfeel and wispy fog of hops, combined with low bitterness and an even lower 4.8% alcohol by volume, makes this a true session IPA. You are forced to have several, in fact - even if you aren't drinking to help sick children by drinking them - because every time you take a drink and turn your head, your beer has apparently sublimated from your glass and into the aether. The brewery's tasting room is the only place to get your hands on one of these flighty pints for the time being, but if we make enough noise on the internet and in person, there's a chance we could see this one in six packs.
Those of you who missed the launch of Two Roads Igor's Dream Russian Imperial Stout last year are in luck, because 750mL bottles of the black stuff will return on January 25th. The brewery just launched a 7% Belgian IPA this week, and will continue their extremely strong naming game (Conntucky Lightning, Roadsmary's Baby, etc.) with a trippel called Rye 95 soon. There's also this, which I'm not allowed to talk about just yet, but check back in with Friday Froth in about a month.
At one point during my misspent youth I was watching Crocodile Dundee and heard, for the first time, an Aussie describe drinking as "blowing the froth off a few." This seemed ridiculously cool to me at the time, so the next time I remembered, I did what Clint Eastwood is doing up there in the banner image. World renowned Hollywood badasses look like that photo, whereas I looked entirely crestfallen as I was told in no uncertain terms to get my skinny ass out of the damn bar. The lesson here is obvious: never trust Australians.
I recently had the chance to figuratively blow the froth off a few pints of Evil Twin Ron And The Beast Ryan saison at Coalhouse Pizza in Stamford. Evil Twin is based in Denmark, but brewed for the U.S. at Two Roads, as you know, and I've been slowly making my way through the entire portfolio as often as I have a chance.
This saison pours with the standard foamy head over an unremarkable golden color. There's a minor aroma of Belgian yeast, with more hops to the nose than is usually expected but, meh, I pulled out my phone and prepared to screw around as I waited for my takeout.
The first mouthfull of the beer was astounding: smooth grains gave way to a pungent funk of brettanomyces yeast, and an almost chocolatey richness. Every succeeding sip was identically delicious. The rest of the world just kind of fell away with that first pint as I tried to make sense of what I was tasting. I can't even begin to guess at what kind of improbable Jute sorcery is woven into this beer to give it a character so, so far afield from expectations of a saison. I couldn't wait to tell you people about this beer this week. Ron And The Beast Ryan is wild, it is substantial, and it is instantaneously one of my favorite beers of this new year. You already know where I had it on tap, but Evil Twin beers have become increasingly available at better bottle shops in our area, so keep an eye out. Just don't blow on it - you don't want to waste a molecule of this stuff.
I'll be back with some seriously dark beers in the next Friday Froth. See you out there.