Two sessions, fifty breweries, and over a hundred different beers - the second annual Beer CONN poured all day and into the night in Bridgeport. Separate afternoon and evening sessions and a limit on the number of tickets sold maximized elbow room and kept things easy just over the ice in the arena.
Out of state breweries like Stone, Shiner, and Jack's Abbey were represented, but the focus of the one day beer fest was on beers from the Constitution State. I attended the second session, which was not without surprises, including Brewscuits: dog biscuits made from spent grain used in brewing, and the Growler Getter, from Woodbridge, Conn. - a hard plastic tote capable of holding two 64oz. growlers, or three 32oz. growlitos.
Hartford's City Steam Brewery has reformulated and relabeled their Blonde On Blonde (formerly a pale ale, now labeled an IPA), and it's was just as pleasing at Harbor Yard as the first time I had the new version just recently at the Ridgefield Playhouse. Their heavier IPA, Innocence, continues to be one of my favorites.
Thomas Hooker Chocolate Truffle Stout was a hit with several friends of mine when we visited the Hartford brewer's booth, as were the Tolkein-inspired names of several of the beers from Long Ireland, such as their Balor IPA.
Connecticut newcomer Lock City Brewing of Stamford was on hand, and off to a pretty strong start with their Blonde Locks With Highlights of Citra.
Black Hog of Oxford arrived with the newest in their Hop Collective series: Vic Secret, named after the varietal with which it was single hopped. It was good enough I went out and bought a pint the first chance I got. Slightly cloudy with an immensely thick head which lasted until it reached the bottom of the glass, the new hop strain has a touch of sweetness, but is mostly pungent and earthy on the tongue. Some yeast esters paired well with the gentle grain bill of this beer, which immediately debuted as one of the 'Hog's better beers.
I don't get to try as many of Relic's beers as I'd like, and now I'm going to try even harder to seek them out. The Plainville brewer showed up with their Demiana dark saison, and I was very happy they did. The deep, roasty Belgian brew had me coming back for seconds.
I was likewise a repeat customer at the Firefly Hollow booth, where I returned several times for additional pours of Photon Imperial Crimson. Rich, slightly bitter, and all over delicious, I could see Photon becoming one of my favorite cold ones to warm up with this winter.
Between Harbor Brewfest, Beer CONN, and its location an easy walk away from the Birdgeport Metro North station, Harbor Yard is quickly becoming one of the marquee venues of the Connecticut Beer scene.