Friday Froth: Connecticut Beer Triple Double

James Gribbon

When we last left Friday Froth, your occasionally humble and rapidly expanding host wastalking American Craft Beer Week, and local offerings from OEC, Stony Creek and Stubborn Beauty. We'll continue the furthering rides the Connecticut beer bus this week as we take our minds on a drive to Bristol, Hartford, and Stratford. Buckle up, because it gets heavy. 

Life is currently pretty fluid out there on the vast, rolling prairie of American craft beer. Everyone who lays hands on a mash paddle seems to be inventing a new style, or at least melting an existing style down and sculpting it into a new form. Much of this morphology arrives in the world with enough alcohol to sterilize minor gunshot wounds. These come stamped with labels marked "double" or "Imperial," which are largely interchangeable, and just mean "strong."

Two Roads's double IPA: Road 2 Ruin, is aptly named, as a matter of personal experience. It is heavy, slightly sweet, sharply bitter, and changes "Friday night" into "Saturday afternoon" with amazing alacrity. Leaving good enough alone is not a character trait of the average American brewer, however. American Craft Beer Week '15 saw the extremely limited release of Two Roads Road 2 Rouen Franco-Belgian wild IPA. At 8.3% per très European 500mL bottle, you're going to need a driver. 

Road 2 Rouen is the same dark amber as its parent beer, with a slightly thicker version of an already dense head. The difference here is the addition of Belgian Trappist and Brettanomyces yeasts during primary and secondary fermentation, and there is a big, sweet Belgian perfume wafting off the top with a slight funk on the back end of the aroma. The hops are completely shoved out of the yard here. I noticed a slightly vegetal effect as I started drinking it down, almost comparable to the fermented hibiscus flowers often used in cocktails. The sweet Trappist yeasts combine with the wild Brett to create a deeply nuanced flavor. Buddy up to someone with access to a bottle or two of this, because it is very worth the experience. Bonus points if you do so in the floaty back seat of a Citroën DS.

India Pale Lagers are the red-wine-with-fish of the beer world. Some people shrug and try it, while others are screaming about heresy and trying to get this damn torch to light. Thomas Hooker decided the hell with it and brewed up Defiance Double IPL anyway. In your glass is an 8.5%, fully filtered golden beer with a medium head and big, sharp hops to the nose. The taste (and get ready for some more heresy here) is quite reminiscent of NEB Sea Hag. The hops are earthy and fruity, but there is a very well defined cutoff to all the flavors, thanks to that lager yeast. Defiance almost ends up being a bit dry, and it's that quality that kept me coming back for more. This is a particularly nice one from the folks up in Hartford, but we have to get back on the bus and head to Bristol. 

Fluffy is formidable in the form of Firefly Hollow Dire Chinchilla. Self-indulgent alliteration aside, we're talking about a fantastic name, and an imperial American ale tipping the scales at almost 10% alcohol. Amber with a sturdy head, the nose is pure caramel. The sweetness of this ale is balanced by seriously toasty malts on the first sip, and stays the course for the second and third. It is tremendously powerful as an ale, and similar to barleywine in mouthfeel, but it's counterweighted again by a hoppy, distinctively American aftertaste. Dire Chinchilla is completely unsubtle, slightly aggressive, and you still want to pet it. I'll take three, please - bites heal, and sometimes they're worth it.  

See you out there.