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Entries in Friday Froth (61)

Friday
Sep162016

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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Friday
Jul292016

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
May132016

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
Jan292016

Friday Froth: Tres Hoppy w/ Olde Burnside, Kent Falls & Two Roads Breweries

This week will be an all Connecticut-brewed, and intensely hopped version of Friday Froth. We start by wishing happy birthday to one of our state's early modern craft brewing pioneers, Olde Burnside Brewing Company, which turned 15 years old this month. Olde Burnside was initially highly visible due to selling their Ten Penny Scottish Ale in 64oz. growlers at retail in area liquor stores, which was 1) a great deal, 2) useful for refilling with anything you chose, and 3) garnered a $1.50 reimbursement when returned, if you weren't so inclined. This came in handy during the years when Connecticut had around five breweries, instead of our current 30ish, and growler filling stations were rare as sober nights at Owl Farm

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Friday
Jan082016

Friday Froth: The Tale Of The Commodore from Ballast Point

Hello! Welcome back to Friday Froth, 2016 edition: the semi-weekly beer column eagerly awaited by literally tens of people. This week, as in most weeks, I will start off with discussion on a topic which has nothing at all to do with beer. Continue reading at your own peril. 

I have a friend who moved to Germany because of a girl. I think we can all agree emigrating from the country of your birth to one across a large ocean whose language you don't speak while relying on an intimate interpersonal relationship for success and happiness with no fall-back plan usually works out perfectly, and I'm sure you'll all be relieved to learn that has been precisely the case with him. If anything, he has more hair on his head than when he left - a fact about which we can all be magnanimous, and definitely not introduce small amounts of arsenic into the care packages of American peanut butter and bourbon whiskey we send him, because we are not envious monsters. 

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Friday
Dec182015

Friday Froth: Beer CONN Comes To Bridgeport

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. 

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Friday
Nov062015

Friday Froth: Iceland And Sweetwater Come To Connecticut

Reykjavik and Atlanta usually don't have anything in common besides yours truly, but we've all come full circle this week. The daisy chain works like this: I love Iceland, and have done some work for the country here in the U.S. which allowed me to to visit the land of fire and ice, eat hákarl, and learn the correct pronunciation of Eyjafjallajökull. I also have a degree in history from the University of Georgia, where I became acquainted with Sweetwater Brewing Company. Just recently, Two Roads and Evil Twin conspired to produce Geyser Gose, using Icelandic ingredients, and Sweetwater made their Connecticut debut. Hell yes.

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Friday
Sep252015

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
Sep112015

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
Aug282015

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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