This past weekend, The Brew Sherpette and I took another of our celebrated beer-expeditions, this time to check out a few more Connecticut and Rhode Island Breweries. We put the word out to our friends and followers on Untappd asking for suggestions and received responses that ranged from the ridiculous (skip everything and just head straight to Tree House Brewing in Monson, MA) to the helpful (check out Grey Sail Brewing, Proclamation Brewing, Outer Light Brewing and Beer’d Brewing). With a sense of adventure, we filled our magic carpet’s fuel tank with fresh unicorn tears and off we went.
Our first stop was right off I-95 in Branford, CT at the Thimble Island Brewing Company. We have been here before and are absolutely in love with their Uncharted Series Session IPA and have rarely passed near the brewery without filling up our growler with some. We usually share a Ghost Island DIPA
while we wait for our growler fills and really enjoy this cool spot, but be warned: during peak times (esp. Saturday nights) the smoking area immediately in front of the main entrance can make getting into Thimble Island Brewing Company an exercise in second-hand smoke lung cancer roulette. Best to bring a gas mask or scuba gear just in case, but once inside, it will all be worth it!
Next stop on this beer-expedition was in West Kingston, Rhode Island at the Proclamation Ale Company.
We hadn’t heard much about this brewery, but at the suggestion of Brewtus Beefcake, we made the stop, which took some hunting. The cool taproom is hidden behind construction materials in the middle of nowhere, presumably near some sod field. The taproom was abuzz with crowded hands and glowing screens of Untappd check-ins, but The Brew Sherpette and I were able to find an empty corner barrel to interface with our beers the old-fashioned way (with our mouth). It was amazing how talking about the beer versus typing about the beer actually made the beer more enjoyable. Try it, I think you’ll reach a similar conclusion. OH, and the Proclamation tap rail made us very happy and envious.
We pointed the nose of our magic carpet towards Westerly, Rhode Island and Grey Sail Brewing with hopes of filling our growler with Captain’s Daughter, the best DIPA nobody is talking about, at least in our not-so-humble opinion. Sadly, the brewery was not open when we arrived, so we were forced to seek the elusive cans of Captain’s Daughter and Pour Judgement in neighboring stores. Previous attempts to procure cans were unsuccessful, but finger’s crossed and ritualistic chanting to the beer gods blessed us with success on this safari, as were we able to squirrel away a few 4-packs.
Beer’d Brewing in Stonington, CT is housed inside the old American Velvet Mill and is a really cool spot. While they did not have Hobbit Juice on tap, they DID have cask conditioned Hobbit Juice with grapefruit. It did NOT disappoint and with Dogs & Boats, it provided a one-two punch that was remarkable. We got to spend some time chatting with Precious Putnam and were equally enchanted by her personality as well as the wonderful story of Beer’d Brewing. Sadly, the cheese shop also located in the Velvet Mill was closed (what a missed opportunity), but Oui Charcuterie provided some salami that paired exceptionally well with Beer’d Brewing’s beers, especially the P^2 Brown Porter (which proved to be the favorite of The Brew Sherpette). We chatted with Charcutier Matthew Browning about taking heritage hogs from piglets to salami without the addition of nitrates while sipping on Whisker’d Wit, This Side of Paradise and Already Taken. Good beer from good people is what we found at Beer’d Brewing and we urge everyone to soak in Beer’d Brewing’s hospitality as often as you possibly can.
Always interested in learning and eternally fascinated by history, we stopped at the magnificent Mystic Seaport, The Museum of America and the Sea and were blown away by the fascinating exhibit. There seemed no better way to simultaneously soak in the ambiance while also honoring the history of Mystic Seaport than to enjoy a beer at Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern. The Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat provided a breath-taking backdrop on this spectacular day.
Outer Light Brewing Company in Groton, CT was our next stop, but not before raiding the Mystic McQuade’s Marketplace for as many local (Connecticut & Rhode Island) cheeses as we could find. Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm from Lyme, CT provided a bevy of cheeses, as did Providence, Rhode Island’s Narragansett Creamery. Readers will DEFINITELY want to stay tuned for The Brew Sherpette’s incoming post on said cheese and OLBC beer pairing, but suffice it to say that minds were blown as the heaven’s opened up to a chorus of angel’s singing while we concurrently achieved enlightenment through the pairing of Pleasant Son Aged Cheese with Outer Light’s Nutmeg State Saison. The pairing was so exceptional that we HAD to share it with Matt and Christina Ferrucci and all signs indicate a deeply spiritual awakening in our collective souls. All of Outer Light’s beer paired well with the 5 or 6 cheeses we had and it should be prerequisite that all beers be paired with cheese before being paired with anything else, except maybe music. Of further note, Outer Light’s SUBduction IPA pairs EXCEPTIONALLY WELL with the UConn Huskies winning the AAC Men’s Basketball Championship! GO HUSKIES!!! Outer Light Brewing Company was a true gem and we are very much looking forward to a return visit.
The final stop on our beer expedition was Stony Creek Brewery on the Branford River in Branford, CT. The facility is as beautiful as it is impressive. Bottling lines, canning lines, stainless steel fermenters and a stunning view of the river from the taproom make Stony Creek worth the visit. Big Cranky and the rest of the Cranky family were excellent beers, but the Belgian Big was our favorite. The food truck outside was bumping, providing one of the best teriyaki steak sandwiches I have ever had out of a truck. Well made 744 West Express, well made!
All in, this expedition was only 600 miles but it is safe to say that you can’t swing a dead cat in Connecticut without hitting several exceptional breweries. Equally as impressive as the beers we drank, were the people who brew them. The hospitality Precious showed us at Beer’d, or the experience we shared with Matt and Christina at Outer Light are the true magic of craft beer. Craft beer is artisanal, but most of all it is social. Forgive me while I dream, but I wish my Untappd feed was full of funny witicisms and observations rather than the same worthless bullshit of mouth-feel and other neck-beardy beer nonsense that I usually see. But I digress…..