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Eating Out

Savor the last days of summer at The Beer Garden @ Shippan Landing

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Entries in Beer (191)


Friday Froth: I Give You IPA...Firefly Hollow, Victory & Beer'd Brewing Co.

We're going to ignore the seasonal background noise this week, and focus on the always topical subject of IPAs. Two of the beers we taste in today's Froth are Connecticut originals, and I'm also taking the opportunity to introduce the newborn Vital IPA from Victory Brewing. A single can of this last made its way into my sinister grasp a few days before its official introduction to the world, and your first look is below the jump.

First, though, I have to geek out about some Firefly Hollow trivia...

Firefly is located in Bristol, and run by partners Rich Loomis, Bill Collins, and brewmaster Dana Bourque. Two out of three at UConn grads, and I've mentioned their beers here before. A while back I had the opportunity to try another one of their beers, Lil Troll session IPA. As the name suggests, this one is just under 5% abv, and pours golden with a big head. The hop aroma is earthy, and maybe even a bit sour on the nose.

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Friday Froth: Take Your Own Advice (Southern Tier, Two Roads & Victory Breweries)

Ernest Hemingway told us to always do sober what we said we'd do drunk. "That will teach you to keep your mouth shut," was his lesson. I don't get space here on Fridays for keeping my metaphorical mouth shut, and a few weeks ago I could be found pleading with you to hold off on All Pumpkin Errthang, and take the limited time we have at summer's end to enjoy the brief grunion-run of harvest ales. 

The same day Froth published, I went out, slapped my modest gains on a counter, and walked out, brown bottles with orange labels in my hands. I've found some good ones for you, so here's a sampler.  

Southern Tier Harvest special ale is an Extra Special Bitter, and pours with a golden ruby color. Decent head foams up at first and settles into thickish ring. The first whiff is bready malt, bouncing with hops. Rich and bitter, but mellow, Harvest is a hedge fund divorcee on xanax. It is also terrifically easy to drink, which means the robust 6.7%ABV tends to sneak up on you. The world is not exactly full of beers which aren't heavy, or beset with fruits or lactose, and still manage to feel like a treat, but Harvest is the exact recipe. It is decadent despite a deceptively simple formula, and a prototypical autumn beer.

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Friday Froth: Love The Harvest

Screw pumpkin beer and the sell sheet it rode in on. Screw it in September, and double-dog screw it in August, when I first start seeing it in stores. The fact I wasn't arrested for petty vandalism last month is a minor miracle. If you complain about summer being over to soon while ordering a late fall seasonal I hope you step in something wet while wearing socks. Such are the depths of my disdain. 

I say all this, even though I don't dislike pumpkin beers as such, because the end of summer and early fall are excellent times for beer. Hops and grain are both being harvested this time of year, and I encourage you to take full advantage of the brilliant little season between light, summer beers, and the heavy, spiced beers of winter, because that middleground is fertile, delicious,and short-lived. Let's do this.

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Friday Froth: 3 Beers for Day, Dusk and Dark

The summer wind-down is on us, but I am holding onto the season like a starfish attacking a clam. The days are starting their slow slide, and I've been thinking about light changing over to dark, so that will be our theme this week - day to dusk to demonic.


Southern Tier Tangier is your high-noon-in-summer brew. It's a session IPA - light in alcohol and color - but heavily dosed with Azacca hops and tangerine peels to arrive with swirling flavor. Tangier pours a cloudy amber with a thick head. The flowery Azaccas pair excellently with the citrus in the creation of a very, very nice drink that is more IPA-ish, than straight up IPA. Sometimes a beer can get in its own way, and the heavier malting of other citri-fied IPAs like grapefruit Sculpin can sometimes lend them a bit of drag in some situations, but Tangier's weight and execution make it outstanding for hot, humid days.

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SE Uncorked Opens in New Canaan: Snacks & Taps + A Great Vibe

Chef Nick Martschenko’s (South End) newest venture, SE Uncorked, is already creating an incredible buzz throughout New Canaan for its great food and great vibe. Inspired by the speakeasies of the Prohibition era and taverns in the UK and Australia, Chef Nick told CTbites that his vision is for “guests to be comfortable and relaxed in a heavily beverage, comfortable environment with foods designed for a pub versus restaurant theme.” 

Located at 15 Elm Street, both the exterior and interior have been completely redesigned. The brick-faced exterior features a drop-down wood shelf, windows at eye-level  and a wood carved sign announcing “Uncorked” with the familiar South End circle-logo with the additional prelude... “Snacks & Taps.”

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Friday Froth: Negative And Positive

I like beers from Otter Creek and Jack's Abby, but their collaboration beer, Joint Custody, is a can full of nope. Thankfully it's also exceedingly rare, so chances are you'll be spared from drinking one. I don't usually talk about bad beer experiences in this column - and feel free to skip down to the two contrasting examples I give below - but this one's been nagging at me.  

The collective German heritage of the OC and JA brewmasters inspired them to seek out two newborn German hop strains, Huell Melon and Mandarina Bavaria, in the creation of what they call a Nouveau Pilsner. Joint Custody pours cloudy gold, and has a slightly odd lemony scent - both fine - and then you take a drink and taste fresh Band-Aid. There is the unmistakable pils malt underneath, but what in the hell with this plasticky flavor? In beer-nerd terms, we sometimes call this ortho-chlorophenolic, because it's a medicinal smell/flavor which usually comes from residual sanitizers, or using chlorinated water to make the beer. I don't think that's what happened here, we're dealing with seriously talented brewers, so the only remaining explanation is they've done this on purpose.

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Rothbard Ale + Larder, European Beer Bar, To Open In Westport (By Walrus + Carpenter Team)

Walrus + Carpenter owners, Adam Roytman and Joseph Farrell, are teaming up again with a new restaurant concept in downtown Westport. This new venture, housed in the cozy subterranean dining space that was once Tierrra, will maintain the casual neighborhood vibe diners have grown accustomed to at Walrus, but this duo will leave the BBQ in Black Rock and head to Europe for a completely different approach to comfort food. Westport has its first European Beer Bar (right by Old Town Hall). 

Rothbard Ale + Larder will open this fall with a menu focused on Central European fare. Rothbard will draw inspiration from the cuisines of Alsace, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, with a little Northern Italy thrown in for good measure. A preview of the menu in progress reveals specialties including Spatzle, Mussels, Rabbit Goulash, Steak Frites (Fleisher’s), housemade Jagershnitzel and Raclette, (a Swiss cheese, melted table side and draped over potatoes, bacon and onions). Hearty fare will be complimented by more delicate salads and fish entrees. “There will be something for everyone” says Roytman. Farrell and Roytman are particularly enthusiastic about the “For The Table,” section of the menu where diners can order entrees for 4, in the communal spirit of a true beer hall. 

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Friday Froth: 3 Cold Beers For A Hot Day

No. Just no, NYC commissioner of the Department of Health, Mary Bassett - I will not avoid drinking beer on scorching hot summer days. Yes, I will drink some water, because I am not an idiot, but you can take a cold beer from my (still mostly warm), dead hand. Thankfully, this is 'murica, where many a dilapidated package store is hung with signs advertising the coldest beer in town (following Strong Bad's motto: "A One That Isn't Cold Is Scarcely A One At All"), thus saving us all from aloe vera vitamin drinks and the resultant loss of will to live. 

A crisp beer on a hot day is a joy forever, as the poet probably said, so this week we're going to check out three hot weather beers, canned for your lawn mower riding, golf bag stuffing, back yard sitting pleasure. 

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Friday Froth: Kent Falls Shower Beer and Wild Beer Evolver

The freshest beer news, delivered weekly, is one of my goals with Friday Froth. Tender, green shoots of hop aroma and flavor, seeded by the brewer, come to full fruition the moment you crack a young IPA, and tend to wilt when left to languish on a shelf. The hop plant is like knowledge that way, reaching its true potential when you use it to water yourself.  

Bursting through the dewy soil of Connecticut's beer scene this week was a new leaf in the form of Shower Beer from Kent Falls Brewery. How new are we talking? The five gallon pilot batch sampled by myself and others at the latest Beers At The Beach event in Norwalk was the only one in existence, for now. 

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Friday Froth: Beers At The Beach With Beer'd Brewing

The first ever Beers At The Beach micro-fest went down at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk earlier this month, and CTBites was there to give you a look. The party's host, Ken Tuccio of the Welcome To Connecticut podcast, created the event to showcase in-state breweries which don't have large distributions, and give people a chance to try the beers and meet the people who make them.  The guest of honor on June 11th was Beer'd Brewing of Stonington. 

Burgers and hot dogs were provided by Ripka's Beach Cafe as part of the party, and shrimp, clams and oysters were also on ice for bites al frescoBeer'd took the opportunity to launch their new imperial amber, Get To The Choppa!

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