Friday Froth: A Look At Beer'd Brewing

James Gribbon

I like to let my face grow its own sweater for the colder months. Having a glossy layer of man-fur dulls the teeth of the winter wind, people seem to like my more avuncular look, and growing a beard takes slightly less work than shaving every day, so technically I'm conserving the planet's resources. You're welcome

I've noticed the delicate liquid measurements, tweezing of botanicals, and arguing over the perfect shape for a single unit of ice has lead many adherents of cocktail culture to treat their faces like overly manicured topiary. There will always be respect and, above that, love in my heart for those who create finely constructed, strong and delicious cocktails, but an enthusiastic ransacking of my home will never turn up a single tin of mustache wax. 

When I met Aaren Simoncini of Beer'd Brewing in Stonington, he was wearing a shirt that said "beer is art"and his beard didn't look like an aluminum foil swan full of lo mein. We nodded at each other and I approached.  

Aaren and his wife, Precious, recently drove a few logs of their beer down to Fairfield County for the first time ever from their location in the old American Velvet Mill all the way over on the Rhode Island border, and I was lucky enough to be there to try it. Beer'd has generated a bit of seismic activity in the Connecticut beer scene, not only for making seriously hop-forward yet balanced beers, but for their ability to do it profitably remarkably early. This success has allowed Beer'd to more than double its in house brewing capacity in just its third full year of life.  

I decided to start with their pale ale, Kittens and Canoes. It poured light amber with a wisp of cloudiness and a medium head with a floral hop aroma. The excellent selection of Nelson Sauvins and Citras in this beer's hop bill mean it manages to be somewhat gentle and juicy, but also retain a crisp snap on the palate. Higgs Bosons last longer in the Large Hadron Collider than than this pint did in my left hand. A growler of Kittens and Canoes would make only the most fleeting acquaintance with my fridge. In fact, the only acceptable unit of measure for this beer's sale may be the imperial gallon. It was a hell of a first impression. 

I drank upward from Kittens and Canoes to Beer'd's double IPA, Dogs and Boats. What's up with the names of these? Aaren told me "Dogs like boats, and when I wanted to make a smaller version of that beer, I just called it Kittens and Canoes."

Dogs, in this case, look just like kittens at first glance - maybe with a slightly more persistent head - and have similar aromas. At first sip, I became James and the Giant Peach. Big stone fruit flavor from the mix of Citra and Mosaic hops washes the tongue, and the one word flavor profile for this beer would be "orchard." It has quite a subdued bitterness for an imperial IPA, one that doesn't come on until the aftertaste. At 9.1%, Dogs and Boats is  a big beer, but it doesn't knock you over the head. 

The counterpoint to Dogs and Boats is Too Many Cooks double IPA. Aaren watched a bit of late night television which inspired both this beer's name and its overflowing heaps of character. This one pours thick with unfiltered yeast with a thinnish head and grapefruit to the nose, courtesy of Amarillo, Simcoe and Azacca hops. Sweet citrus like a Florida orange is quickly blanketed by dry yeasts which break up the massive dose of hop oils and leave you ready for the next sip. It's bitter and special from the first sip, but it's also such an appropriate interplay of flavors and tactile sensations as you move through the glass. This certainly isn't a gulper like the Kittens, and I might not get a growler of it, but I enjoyed the hell out of a pint.       

Hobbit Juice may be the most talked about Beer'd brew online. This is a wit-like cloudy 9.2%abv double IPA with a head as stubborn as your Polish ex-girlfriend. It is oily and dank in flavor, but the finish is impressively dry. Like the pizza I had it with, yeast is a big piece of this pie, and it adds to both the beer's body and flavor. Hobbit Juice was the tangiest of all the beers I sampled that night, and I completely whiffed on asking Aaren why he borrowed from Middle Earth for a name. I'll accept my twenty lashes in the comments. 

A glass full of Beer'd is currently a very rare commodity in western Connecticut, but evidence suggests this won't only change soon, it will change the whole scene for the better. 

See you out there.