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Entries in Beer (213)


How Long Can You Store Beer? Featuring 2014 OEC Phantasma

In which I hope to survive this column's publishing.

Most beer is best when it is as fresh as possible. The ability to buy beer at the source of its manufacture has completely changed how Americans interact with their brew, and it's given brewers the chance to utilize ingredients with increasing fragility of flavor. The concept is not a new one, really. In order to ensure quality, macrobrewers have spent untold dollars figuring out how long their beer lasts under different conditions, and have been printing Born On dates on their cans for well over a decade. On the other end, small brewer whale-chasers have approached a lunatic fringe in threatening to pour their own IPAs down the drain should they have been bottled and sold in more than the space of a workday.  

For the next few weeks in this space I'll be attempting to find out how long certain beers can be cellared like fine wines. What happens to them? How do they change, and what's it like to drink them? I'll be trying beers from several brewers; some which have been made specifically to drink after resting, but most decidedly not. 

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Friday Froth: Half Full Brewery, Oktoberfest & Other Fall Beers

You may have noticed we've been playing around with the structure of Friday Froth for the past several months. This space has been everything from event coverage, to brewpub openings, to a travel diary, but this week we're going back to something more like a classic Froth. I began writing this column way back in ye olden days of 2009 with the idea of expressing a renaissance. 

The growth of American craft brewing was every bit as compelling as the culinary scene in terms of new ideas, personalities, and dedication to ingredients and flavors, but most people were still pretty lost when it came to picking out something new to try. Glance at the patrons in front of the craft case at the rare well stocked liquor store at the time, and they'd be wearing expressions like someone at MoMA trying to decide if what they were looking at was the intentional work of an artist, or construction debris. I started Froth just to give people a heads up. So, without going on too long I hope, that's what we're doing today.

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Eastern CT Beer Sampler: A Trip to Beer'd, Outer Light Brewing & Moxie

Last Friday, around the time the afternoon crowd was clicking on last week's column, I was overflowing with the desire to get out of town. A neighbor of mine, a semi-recent immigrant from eastern Europe, was heading home. In the years of our acquaintance I'd only known him to go two places: his day job as a carpenter, and his back yard. His whole idea of Connecticut, his entire concept of the U.S., for all I know, would be worksites, the highway, and a quarter acre of manicured grass. He was utterly unconcerned, but I was tragedy stricken - and determined to get out and do... something.

Just like in a movie script, that's when the phone rang.

"Sorry this is last minute, man," the caps lock Wisconsin accent told me who it was immediately. "But I need a trip to the casino. I got the room paid for, you just bring your liver." 

I didn't really have the money to play with, it was Friday rush hour on I-95, and I try to avoid casinos in general.

"Sure. Let me pack." Let's see what happens, I thought. I am a leaf on the wind.

Although the end results were largely indistinguishable, the casino was marginally more entertaining than feeding those same $20 bills to sea gulls. I was neither keen to go back the next day, nor on the prospect of a two hour, day-wasting drive home. It was my turn to provide the inspiration:

"Let's hit a brewery I know."

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Little Pub Opens Today in Fairfield on Black Rock Turnpike

The Little Pub you know from Ridgefield, Wilton and Cos Cob is opening its fourth location in Fairfield at the intersection of Stillson Avenue and Black Rock Turnpike. This spot has some history as it housed the Angus restaurant for over 70 years. Owner, Doug Grabe says "It's a cute and cozy building in a perfect neighborhood for Little Pub and we’re really looking forward to serving the Fairfield community."

"Little Pub Fairfield will share the traditional old world charm of our other little pubs with thick plaster walls, hand hewn beams, and antique iron light fixtures," says Grabe. In fact, the team re-purposed over 80 vintage beams from their Cos Cob renovation. A massive stone fireplace serves as the focal point for the main dining room, alongside some wonderful pub decor, including a vintage telephone booth.

What is unique to Fairfield is its size. The dining room is over 50% bigger than Wilton, with 130 seats. Grabe says "The bar alone is bigger than our entire Ridgefield footprint." 

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Brewport Brewing Co. Brings New Haven Pizza To Bridgeport CT

A lot of the time, when you write about food and beer, you realize the compelling truths in a story start with the people. Case in point, Brewport Brewing Co. If you've driven on I-95 through Bridgeport any time in the past several months, you have probably seen eye-searing electronic billboards announce its impending arrival as part of their scroll. The waiting is over, and the entire month of August has been designated a public "sneak preview" of the pizza-centric brewpub. I dropped by unannounced to get a taste of what we have in store. Here's your first look.

Brewport started out as an idea in the mind of its president, Bruce Barrett, of Barrett Outdoor Communications, hence the billboards. (You may also recognize his billboards.) The brewpub is located directly off exit 27 on 95N, below one of Barrett's billboards, and roughly at the radiant point in the center of the giant loop made by the exit 27A connector. The easy access, and the huge mural of brewing equipment painted on the building's side, make it hard to miss. Bruce and his brother John purchased the building in 2000, and it continued its life as a distribution center for the Fairfield County News for years before they contacted their longtime friend - and brewery manager at BAR New Haven - Jeff Browning.

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Friday Froth: New Belgium Beer Is Now Available In Connecticut!

New Belgium Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado, is now a month into making their beer available in Connecticut for the first time. Thanks to an extremely effective initial round of distribution, I've seen their canoe-shaped tap handles popping up all over Fairfield and New Haven counties. Not too long ago, before New Belgium built their new brewery in Asheville, NC, the beer was only scantily available much east of the mountain time zone. It was during this time that I went full-on Smokey And The Bandit and made a beer run from Georgia to Colorado and back again. It started with a heartbreak. 

My trip to Colorado, like that of the Conquistadors, began with an expedition to Mexico. Specifically, an airline ticket to Cancun for spring break. The father of one of my friends in the history program at the University of Georgia was pilot, and I could afford the ticket to Mexico because it was free. The five of us who were going planned to spend the savings by investing in cheap accommodations, cheaper booze, and lasting skin damage. I was hard at work polishing my lustrous C average in college Spanish all the way up to a gleaming B-minus when my hopes were torched like ships of Cortez. The promised five tickets materialized as two tickets, and I hadn't made the cut. 

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Friday Froth: A Trip To Barcade New Haven, Video Games + Beer

Maybe it's just the freshness of a mind before it reaches pickled adulthood, but childhood memories seem more permanent. I can't remember breakfast on most days, but I recall hopping on bikes with a few friends, ditching our mother-mandated helmets, and riding down to Vic's Variety on Paradise Green in Stratford to buy Crybabies and play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on a stand up, four player arcade game. 

Nintendo and Sega Genesis had killed video game arcades as dead as iTunes killed record stores until four guys in Williamsburg thought "What if we bring them back, but with beer?" That was 2004, and in the ensuing years the Barcade franchise has spread around New York, to New Jersey, Philly, and now, New Haven. It was once again time to get my Hadouken! on.

Travel time driving to Barcade is variable, in my case 3 hours in traffic. But by the time I arrived I was seriously ready to blow something up. Centipede, Galaga, Punch Out, four player X-Men and Ninja Turtles, Ms. Pac Man... take your pick, they're all still 25-cents to play. 

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Kent Falls Brewing Begins Bottle Sales At The Farm: A First Look

If, in an alternate world, you'd bought stock in Kent Falls Brewing Co. the first time you read about the small, Connecticut based brewer here on CTBites, you'd be rich by now. The brewery isn't actually public in the financial sense, but it will welcome the public to its farm in Kent, Conn. for the first time on June 11. Kent Falls beer has previously only been available on tap, in bottles at a few shops, and at single farmer's market. All that changes this summer, and anyone up for a drive to the NW corner will be able to buy it bottled at the source, Saturdays from 11a.m.-5p.m., with a focus on special releases like brewery-only IPAs and barrel aged beers. A special bottle release is planned for the grand opening on the 11th.

Kent Falls has seen its popularity skyrocket lately and, as I've said several times before, the beer justifies the acclaim. The announcement of their new retail sales plan ended up being just the push I needed to finally visit their brewery and the working farm in which it's seated. Here is your first look.

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Friday Froth: Big Fuzzy Double And The Harpooned Whale, New England Brewing

Feel free to argue with me in the comments, but New England Brewing Company is currently the biggest whale in Connecticut. Unlike the white whale which drove Ahab mad and dragged him to his doom, no number of obsessive trackers will soon be bringing it down. NEBCO finished doubling the capacity of its brewery over the winter and in short order released a huge batch of its more sought after beers to multiple bars just in time to coincide with St. Patrick's day. 

My base of operations that night was Walrus+Carpenter in Black Rock because they were having a Van Morrison tribute band, and the list of things I will fight you over is not long, but it includes "Astral Weeks." I was several Supernauts and a long awaited Gandhi-Bot deep when I sensed a disturbance in the force, as if thousands of apps had fired up at once, and looked up to watch a steady trickle of bros and bro-ettes flow in, order no drinks, and peruse not a single menu. They just waited. These, then, were the Untappd zombies. Cannibalistic brain-eating being so 20th century, the horde was utterly uninterested in music, roast pig, fried chicken, or a tap list filled with excellent beer - they wanted cheeeeeck-iiiiinnnnsss. It was five minutes before the hour, and the tap was about to open on Fuzzy Baby Ducks. Thumbs hovered - twitching, aching - over phones.

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Friday Froth: Two Roads Nor'yeaster Preview + "Junk Food" Pairing via Marcia Selden Catering

Flowers are popping up everywhere this spring, even in our beer. TomorrowMay 7th, will see a special bottle release at Two Roads Brewing Co. in Stratford, featuring their newest creation, Roads Garden. The spring  Nor'yeaster event will also include limited supplies of Framboise Noir, a black raspberry lambic, and Road 2 Rouen, the brewery's "wild, Franco-Belgian IPA," based on Road 2 Ruin DIPA.

A sold-out, ticketed preview event was held this past Monday, when the brewery's tasting room is regularly closed, and CTBites was able to taste several of Two Roads' smaller production run beers, paired with "re-imagined junk food," via event partner Marcia Selden catering. 

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