Beercycling in Connecticut

Connecticut’s craft beer culture often intersects with Connecticut’s cycling culture. Several cyclists are also craft beer drinkers and vice versa. Not only does Connecticut have a wealth of craft breweries today, but the state also has several bicycle trails that are safe from traffic injuries and fatalities. Several of these trails are linear parks, greenways, or rail trails (abandoned railway lines that have been turned into multi-use paths for biking and walking). If you are a fan of both cycling and craft beer then you’re in luck because several craft breweries and craft beer bars are conveniently located nearby or alongside bike trails. The reason for this is because several bike trails are repurposed railway lines and several breweries and bars are located inside repurposed mills, factories or train depots that were built along the railroad. There’s nothing like a long, scenic bike ride through the state… especially if it’s fueled by refreshing hops and carbs flowing down your throat. If you’re interested in taking your own “beercyling” tour of the state then here’s a list of some of Connecticut’s trails where you can do just that.

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (Southern Portion)

The Farmington Canal was once the longest canal in New England. Completed in 1835, it was used to transport goods from Northampton, Massachusetts all the way to New Haven. It was replaced with the more efficient New Haven and Northampton Railroad in 1847 before becoming obsolete in the 1980s. The first section of paved rail trail was completed in 1993 and it has continued to grow since then. Currently, the southern portion of the trail extends uninterrupted from Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven all the way to Lazy Lane in Southington. Breweries located within close proximity of the trail include Cheshire Craft Brewing, Counter Weight Brewing Company, Kinsmen Brewing Company, Witchdoctor Brewing Company, and Transcend Beer Crafters. Craft beer bars located alongside the trail include MiKro (located inside a repurposed Railroad Depot), Hop Häus (Southington location), GameCraft, and The Groggy Frogg.

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (Northern Portion) / Farmington River Trail

Following a gap in the town of Plainville, the Farmington Canal Trail continues uninterrupted from Northwest Drive in Plainville all the way to Main Street in Westfield, Massachusetts. Breweries located within close proximity of the trail (on the Connecticut side) include Hopmeadow Brewing Company, The Brewery at Maple View Farm, and Cambridge House Brew Pub. Craft beer bars located alongside the trail include the Red Stone Pub and Plan B Burger Bar (Simsbury location: a repurposed Railroad Depot). There is also a secondary bike trail called the Farmington River Trail that was built on the former Central New England Railway right-of-way. It separates from the Farmington Canal Trail at Red Oak Hill Road in Farmington and then rejoins it on Route 202 in Simsbury. A craft beer bar located along this trail is Lisa’s Crown & Hammer Pub (located inside a repurposed Railroad Depot). Plans are underway to complete all remaining gaps of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail so that cyclists will one day be able to cycle uninterrupted from Long Wharf in New Haven all the way to Northampton, Massachusetts and vice versa.

Airline State Park Trail

At nearly 55 miles, the Airline State Park Trail stretches from Portland all the way to Thompson (with some small breaks in the trail along the way). The trail borrows its name from the Boston and New York Air-Line Railroad which operated along the same trailway from 1875 until it was abandoned in 1965. An air-line railroad was a type of railroad that was relatively straight, following a shorter route instead of longer, winding route. Breweries located within close proximity of the southern portion of the trail include Hop Culture Farms & Brew Company and Willimantic Brewing Company. A 3.5 mile spur trail splits off from the main trail in Hebron and stretches south to the center of Colchester which is a short bike ride away from Stranger Tides Brewing. Craft beer bars located alongside the main trail include The Tavern On 66 and Dexter’s Tunes, Tales, and Ales.

Charter Oak Greenway

The Charter Oak Greenway is not a repurposed railroad but it does offer a safe bicycle route throughout the Greater Hartford area. It stretches from Bushnell Park in Hartford all the way to Bolton where it connects with the Hop River State Park Trail. Along the way, it connects with shorter trails such as the Hartford Riverwalk, the Captain John Bissell Trail, and the Cheney Rail Trail (which lies on a section of the defunct South Manchester Railroad). Breweries located within close proximity of this trail network include City Steam Brewery, Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt, Phantom Brewing Company, Paddle Creek Beer Company, East Hartford Brewing Group, Elicit Brewing Company, 2nd Bridge Brewing Company, Labyrinth Brewing Company, and Urban Lodge Brewing Company.

Pedal for your pints! 🚴‍♂️🍻

New CT Breweries We’re Excited To See Open In 2022

If you tried to keep track of every brand new brewery in Connecticut, your head might spin. So just read this list instead. Here’s the scoop on some of the new breweries poised to take the leap this year in Connecticut. With COVID-related delays in construction, supplies, staff, and more, keep in mind most opening dates are not set in stone. Bookmark this page for updates.

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Almost Famous Brewing Company
Now Open – Jan 2022
Almost Famous Brewing is East Granby CT’s newest place to gather, have fun and enjoy a few cold ones. With four comfortable taprooms and an open concept style taproom, guests can enjoy a full view of the brewery and its equipment to make their signature craft beer.

17 Kripes Road East Granby, CT 06026 | Follow on Instagram

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Armada Brewing Company
Now Open – April 2022
As many of you know, Armada has been slinging tasty craft beers in Connecticut for a long time. They opened their doors recently at a brand spanking new location and will be leading the way to revitalize the Fair Haven neighborhood. What a great addition to the CT Beer scene!

190 River St, New Haven, CT 06513 | Follow on Instagram

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Caius Farm Brewery
Opening Fall 2022

Caius Farm Brewery will be specializing in German beer and farmhouse ales and will also be doing a wide variety of styles. Pictured is their custom 10BBL system recently delivered to their future location. Yep, it’s full speed ahead for the Caius Crew.

101 N Branford Road, Branford, CT 06405 | Follow on Instagram

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Coastline Brewing Company
Opening Spring 2022

Two of the Coastline Brewing Company partners, Rich Lemieux and Phil Violette (Bristol residents), were long-time friends and had been previously home brewing together under the name Two Dads Brewing Company. Through a family friend, they connected with their third partner and Head Brewer, Jay Magisano (Plainville resident). The two approached Jay because they knew he was working at a local brewery at the time, and they were seeking advice on new brewing equipment. The three got together and made a beer…and then another beer…and as the saying goes, the rest is history. They have a decade and a half of experience in brewing and are ready to share their love of beer with the world. Its mission is to bring quality and unique beer to the community while providing a relaxing and fun environment to spend time in-whether it be to drink a cold one with a friend, have a low-key date night, bring the entire family, or meet new friends.

4 Grove Beach Road, North Westbrook, CT, 06498 | Follow on Instagram

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Copper Rose Brewery

We don’t know much about this brewery other than they’re slated to open at some point this year. Stay tuned for updates.

968 Killingworth Rd, Higganum CT 06441 | Follow on Instagram
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Dudleytown Brewing Company
Opening Late 2022

Dudleytown Brewing Co. will be a community-centric brewery dedicated to creating handcrafted, artisanal beer and delicious food in an atmosphere where employees enjoy their work and customers enjoy their experience.

1001 Day Hill Rd. Windsor CT. 06095 | Follow on Instagram

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Rule of 3 Brewing
Opening Spring / Summer 2022

Coming soon to East Hampton CT.

201 West High Street Unit B1 East Hampton, CT 06424 | Follow on Instagram

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Quirk Works Brewing & Blendery
Now Open – May 2022

Construction is complete at Quirk Works Brewing & Blendery, and they’re looking to host a very soft opening in early May. Its mission is to create beers you will remember and love, made with simple yet complex ingredients that are unique but familiar with a focus on hybrid styles. They recognize beer is for creating traditions and memories, toasting at special occasions, and most importantly, to be shared in good company.

78 Triangle Street, Danbury, CT 06812 | Follow on Instagram

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The Boroughs Brewing
Now Open – May 2022

Taking over the former space of Black Pond Brews in the Quiet Corner of CT, they’re currently brewing beer, renovating the brewery and plan to open soon. Real soon. May in fact!

21A Furnace St. Danielson, CT 06239 | Follow on Instagram

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Do you know of a CT Brewery not listed here and slated to open this year? Email Kevin Mardorf at mrctbeer@ctbeer.com

Pumpkin Fest Returns – A Beer Collaboration between LaBonne’s & Reverie Brewing Company

Something wicked is a brewin’…Pumpkin Fest is back with a vengeance!

Pumpkin Fest is a lightly spiced pumpkin ale featuring roasted chocolate and caramel notes with
just the right blend of pumpkin and spices. The taste is honestly incredible. At 5.7% ABV it is
meant to be a very drinkable beer. Perfect for a sunny autumn day while wandering through a
pumpkin patch.

This is our second year working with Reverie Brewing Co to create this unique collaboration
between two local brands. In the fall of 2020 we first released Pumpkin Fest which gained
national recognition and led to the beer selling out in a matter of weeks.

Reverie was kind enough to invite our crew to “brew day” and “canning day”, which gave us the
opportunity to learn & understand the ins and outs of the brewing process. Our team loved
being involved in this immersive experience. If you’d like to see our team at work during that
brewing and canning process, check out this video produced by Michele, our talented
Multimedia Assistant.

Liz, our Creative Lead, made the amazing label design from scratch. We were going for a
semi-creepy vintage Halloween vibe which she nailed. The pumpkin on the front is named
Arthur after our late associate Art Barker. Art had a passion for craft beer and helped us become
a destination for this category. Sadly, Art lost his battle with cancer a few years ago. He is
missed dearly.

We have generated a substantial buzz over our ever-growing craft beer department in recent
years. Many of our shoppers consider us their “best-kept secret” when it comes to making their
weekly stops for the latest and greatest specialty craft beer.

We have to thank Ryan, Frank, and the rest of the team at Reverie for turning this dream into a
reality. They are amazing to work with. Be sure to check out their awesome tap room in
Newtown to enjoy their freshest brews on tap in addition to local food trucks.

We only made one batch of Pumpkin Fest for the fall season so once it’s gone it’s gone for
good. Stop at a LaBonne’s Market in Watertown, Woodbury, Prospect, or Salisbury CT to pick
up a 4 pack today!

The V.I.B Beer Festival Debuts On Monday at New Britain Bees Stadium

Now batting….

The beer festivals are coming back and with some fun ones on the calendar! Rising Pint in Hartford was a huge hit last month. On deck for beer festivals is the New Britain Bees V.I.B (Very Important Bees) Beer Fest 2021. Presented by CTBeer.com & the New Britain Bees, this beer fest will feature local brewery favs including Alvarium Beer Co. (New Britain CT), Five Churches Brewing (New Britain CT), Coles Road Brewing (Berlin CT) and the newly opened Concentric Brewing Company (Portland CT). This event will be held on Monday July 12th, 2021 6:30pm to 8:30pm at New Britain Bees Stadium. With over 20+ craft beers to choose from, you’ll get to see what all participating breweries have to offer. Whether you are into IPAs, Hazy, Sours, or Stouts, you will get to try them all.

Tickets are priced at $25 per ticket in advance and $35 per ticket at the game (if avail). Price of admission gets you access to premium seating in the VIB section during the Home-Run Derby, access to hyper-local beer garden, 20+ craft beer samples, a free collectible glassware (pictured in this post) and free parking. Portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Kelly Rodman Baseball Foundation.

The day will not only bring amazing brews and a baseball game, but also you will be able to see the home run derby. You will see top athletes during their FCBL (Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England) All-Star Game.

What more can you ask for? Baseball, beer, and watching future baseball stars trying to hit some homeruns. Don’t strike out! Get your tickets now since a limited number of tickets will be sold.

New Breweries Coming to Connecticut in 2021

It’s no secret that the CT craft beer scene is exploding. With new breweries opening up all the time, it can be pretty tough to keep up. Not any longer!

Here is your guide to the newest CT Brewery openings & happenings in CT. This list is ever-changing. Breweries will be added and moved around here as needed and we’ll update with relevant info throughout the year.

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Cheshire Craft Brewing Company – Cheshire, CT
Opening: February 2021

Cheshire Craft Brewing is looking forward to providing a venue and beer that promotes community gatherings and local spirit.  The overall concept of Cheshire Craft is not about being big and loud.  They are committed to their customer base and producing beers the community wants to drink. A distinct feature about their location is the 1500 square foot patio, off the back of the building.  As you walk through the 10 x 10-foot glass door you will enter an outdoor area that will be transformed into a beer garden/patio space. They are all about providing an experience that lends itself to bringing the community together to socialize and enjoy each other’s company.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

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Concentric Brewing Company – Portland, CT
OPEN NOW!

Concentric Brewing Company

Concentric Brewing Company is now open! Set on five acres of rolling green grass. Their taproom is a large and inviting space with a warm feel from the reclaimed wood obtained from Thrall Family Malt in Windsor, CT. The circular bar will be a great space for families and friends to gather and sip on beers ranging from IPAs, Saisons, Pilsners, Porters, Stouts, Belgians, Sours and even some Barrel aged specials. Get ready to grab a beer and a delicious gourmet hot dog and sides from their partners, “Hotdogs in the Hallway” right in their taproom.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

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Cisco Brewers at The Village – Stamford, CT
Opening Date: May 2021

Cisco Brewers is launching its first Connecticut location at The Village in Stamford. Cisco Brewers will be an outdoor waterfront experience featuring a wrap-around patio and views. Cisco Brewing Company fully renovated a historic building that is well over a hundred years old. It was first a wire and cable company in the early 1900s that connected Connecticut and Long Island. In fact, during construction, workers uncovered a 13-ton metal wheel, which will sit adjacent to Cisco’s outdoor space. In addition to their beer offerings, this unique space will feature a restaurant, a private event space, and rotating pop-ups, and music.
Follow them: Instagram

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Spacecat Brewing Company – Norwalk, CT
Opening: Spring 2021

Spacecat Brewing Company will be welcoming guests this spring in Historic South Norwalk. The name is meant to show people that they are free to let loose and be a little weird if they want to be. Guests of the brewery should enjoy the beer how it is intended: stress free and with those you love. The brewery is being built in the Historic J & J Cash Ltd. Textile Mill. They’ve kept all of the original steel truss work hanging from the ceiling, sandblasted and exposed all the original brick, repaired the giant factory windows with traditional hand-blown glass, and restored the 100 year old maple floor in the entryway and taproom. Spacecat will be offering a wide variety of beer styles from Traditional Belgian Ales, Light Lagers, Mixed Fermentation, Dessert and Winter Stouts, Seasonal Ales, their take on the hazy-juicy IPA craze, and a constantly rotating series of super-small-batch experimental brews.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram |

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Bad Dog Brewing Company – Torrington, CT
OPEN NOW!

Bad Dog Brewing Company

This new brewery is located in a historic firehouse, built in 1901. The building is on the national historic registry and the owners are working to preserve and display its history. In addition to being an elegant example of its style, the building featured some the latest technological advances of the time, including electricity, and an automated system for releasing the horses that drew the pumps from their stalls. The building served as the main firehouse in the center of the town until 1980, when the adjacent modern premises were built.  The styles of beer will vary from Stouts, Brown Ales, IPAs, to wheats as well as traditional pilsners, reds, and hefeweizens.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram |

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Candlewood Brewing – New Milford, CT
OPEN NOW!

This new Connecticut craft brewery and tap room is now open in New Milford, formerly Bad Dream Brewing. They wanted to “Keep the Dream Alive” by opening in the same location. “Keeping the Dream Alive” is actually the name of their tribute beer to them that they brewed using the base of one of their popular beers, “Squirrel Awareness Month.” Candlewood Brewing’s mission is to create a distinct local brand that is respected for their great beer and relationship with community and customers.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Berlinetta Brewing – Bridgeport, CT
Spring 2021

Berlinetta Brewing

Brothers Chris and Rich Ruggiero are opening Berlinetta Brewing in Bridgeport, CT. Legend is that the building they chose for their brewery was originally (circa 1900) the first dedicated automobile showroom in America! Chris and Rich plan on bringing their passion for traditional lagers and ales to Fairfield County and beyond. Pilsner, Vienna Lager, American Pale Ale, Kolsch, Caribbean Stout, and a Dry Hopped Pale Lager are slated to be on their tap list.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram |

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Bank & Bridge – Mystic, CT
Spring 2021

Walt Bansley a Marine Corps veteran, turned lawyer, turned brewery owner, has traded in his combat boots, for dress shoes, and now flip flops. This new CT brewery is in the heart of downtown Mystic right near the iconic Mystic Pizza. The building opened in 1854 and has been a bank up until now. Lead Brewer Justin Maturo and Assistant Brewer Travis Charlow look to pair
their creative brewing with Chef Josh Ulmer’s “outside the box” cooking to create a culinary forward brew pub experience.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram |

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WeHa Brewing & Roasting Company – West Hartford, CT
June 2021

WeHa Brewing & Roasting Company will offer carefully crafted beer and artisanal coffee beverages in a welcoming café and taproom in West Hartford, CT. WeHa Brewing & Roasting provides a unique offering as it operates as both a brewery and a coffee roaster. They’ll offer the highest quality craft beers and coffee by having full control of the process from raw material procurement to serving the end customer.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Skulls Brew House – Berlin, CT
June 2021

Skulls Brew House Brewing Co. was started in 2011 with one goal, to handcraft GREAT BEER to SHARE with the masses. While focusing on a blend of American Ales, Pilsner, Lagers, IPA’s, Stouts and Porters from the freshest local when possible ingredients. Their missoin is to not settle for just good and will constintly strive to bring you the highest quaility, drinkable popular styles with a mix of experimental and a few barrel aged gems.
Follow them: Facebook | Instagram |

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FYI: Be sure to bookmark and follow Steve Wood at CTMQ.com (AKA CTMQ). For over a decade he’s seen the CT Beer scence grow from less than 10 breweries/brewpubs to over 100 now. He’s done an incredible job maintaining a list of new breweries, future breweries and so much more. If you enjoy reading someone who tells it like it is; Steve is your guy. Check him out!

Our First CT Collaboration Beer

I’m proud to announce our first ever collaboration with Transcend Beer Crafters,
The Big Dipper Ice Cream Parlour, and LaBonne’s Markets. We got together for our brew day the other day, mixing together the ingredients for our “LaBada Bing! Milk Stout”; an ice cream flavored beer [7% ABV] brewed with dark chocolate, sweet cherries, vanilla, and lactose. We can’t wait to share this brew with you!

REPLAY: Miss the online show? The replay is now available on Facebook or Youtube to watch at the links below:

Facebook: https://fb.watch/3c9cT9Gk4h/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTYhPDK_RwI&t=11s

What makes me the most excited about this project is the opportunity to work together with such amazing small businesses. Transcend Beer Crafters is a Southington CT based microbrewery that has earned a reputation for thinking “outside the can” crafting some tasty and eclectic brews you won’t find anywhere else. The Big Dipper Ice Cream Parlour in Prospect CT has been serving up homemade premium ice cream for years, including their first collaborative ice cream with LaBonne’s Markets called “LaBada Bing!” Made with The Big Dippers famous vanilla ice cream, it’s stuffed with juicy bing cherries and dark chocolate chunks. This tasty treat is the inspiration behind our collab beer. It has also turned into LaBonne’s #1 seller in the ice cream aisle. In fact, they can barely keep it on the shelves.

Shout out to Jared Andrews at LaBonne’s Markets for making this collaboration happen. Since 1962, Labonne’s has been committed to providing the friendliest service, tastiest food and supporting local businesses. Did I also mention they offer an incredible selection of local Connecticut craft beers too? Well, they do (props to Lawrence O’Brien). Grabbing #CTBeer to go is like a cherry on top when you shop at this beloved family owned grocery store.

Lets face it – we’re all trying to adapt and survive in this Covid world. We here at CTBeer.com believe the only way to get through these challenging times is together, one beer at a time. Be sure to follow us as we continue to post updates on our collaboration (photos, videos, etc) at @CTBeer on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This beer will be available for purchase exclusively at all four (4) LaBonne’s Markets January 22nd at 8am so save that date (they’re located Woodbury CT, Watertown CT, Prospect CT, and Salisbury CT). Supplies will be super limited and first come, first serve. Mrs. CTBeer says to start camping out now.

So if you’ve made it reading this far. Thank you. Please help us spread the word and share this post a friend!

And I wish you all a happy and safe New Year’s Eve. To great beer, good cheer in the New Year. Cheers!

Thread City Hop Fest at Home

This Sunday night December 20th at 7pm you’re invited to join us and watch our next online beer fest “Thread City Hop Fest at Home“. It’s FREE & BYOB (the ‘beer fest in a boxes’ sold out, sorry). Featuring clips from some of our favorite breweries as well as music, entertainment and celeb guests. Come chat with other beer drinkers and enjoy a few cold one’s together; Quarantine Style.

WATCH HERE:
YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-6NhIUOTXw
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ctbeer/posts/5155835637760659

All proceeds to local charities. To learn more and donate, please visit: https://bfest.in/willibrew

It’s been a long year and we hope to bring some good cheer to the #ctbeer community. Hoppy Holidays & Enjoy the show!⁠

Fest Wishes,
Kevin Mardorf
Founder, CTBeer.com & BeerFests.com®

14 Holiday Gift Ideas for Anyone Who Loves CT Beer

Looking for some cool and unique gifts for CT Beer lovers? Or maybe you want to treat yourself? Whatever the case may be, our holiday gift ideas are sure to please anyone who’s enthusiastic about their Nutmeg State Suds, from casual ale drinkers to serious craft beer connoisseurs.

Looking for some cool and unique gifts for CT Beer lovers? Or maybe you want to treat yourself? Whatever the case may be, our holiday gift ideas are sure to please anyone who’s enthusiastic about their Nutmeg State Suds, from casual ale drinkers to serious craft beer connoisseurs.

1. Digital Gift Cards

We put together a convenient directory of Connecticut Breweries, Beer Bars and Package Stores to make it easy to buy digital gift cards at some of your favorite places. Whether you choose to use the gift cards now for to-go/curbside, after Covid-19 has passed, as a gift in the future, or choose to not to use at all as a donation, our local businesses need our community’s support now more than ever. Your generosity and support of our local businesses will not only directly help the employees at these locations, but also indirectly help our local economy continue until this pandemic has passed.

2. Bar New Haven Custom Crowlers

Bar New Haven Custom Crowlers

 

Forget holiday cards — send beer with a customized note from Bar New Haven. They’ll even work with you to come up with absurd names for the “canned by” section of the label. But if you’re ordering a large preorder they can write something specifically for your event or individuals. Each crowler is 2 pints (32 oz) for $10 or a 4 pack (1 gallon) for $35. You can leave fresh Crowler 4 packs at the doors of your socially distanced friends with custom messages. You can even order crowlers in advance to be canned fresh on the date of your event too! Call Bar at 203-495-1111 to order.

3. The Drunk Alpaca CT Craft Beer Glazed Chips
The Drunk Alpaca CT Craft Beer Glazed Chips
Our friends The Drunk Alpaca have mastered craft beer infused snacks & desserts. Which is why we know you’ll love their CT Craft Beer Glazed Chips. Featured in Saveur Magazines Top 100 list this year, these potato chips are crunchy, sweet with a little bit of tang from their CT Craft Beer Glaze. The glaze is made from a CT Craft Beer reduction, butter and honey and their chips come in a variety of seasonings, available in 11 different flavors. Be sure to check out their e-gift cards, gift baskets and beer snacks available for gifts as well. This women owned bakery is based out of Shelton CT. They ship too! At just $4.00 a bag you can affordably over-stock your stockings.

4. Thimble Island Brewing Co’s Holiday Bucket
Thimble Island Basket
Give the gift of a bucket of beer. That is, Thimble Island’s holiday buckets of six (6) different Thimble beers! Each bucket includes a pint glass. You can also choose from different styles of beer from the Stouts & Porters Bucket, Classics Bucket or Sours Bucket. You can pre-order yours online at their website for pickup at their Branford CT location. Cost: $29.99.

5. Thread City Hop Fest at Home
Thread City Hop Fest At Home
Just because beer fests are canceled it doesn’t mean we still cant enjoy them; quarantine style. The Thread City Hop Fest at Home is a ‘Beerfest In A Box’ and contains 24 incredible craft beers from 12 amazing craft breweries. Some of them are old friends, while others might become your new favorite. All beers are carefully selected by Willimantic Brewing Company’s tie-dyed Brewer David Wollner. Buyers also get an exclusive invite to an online event to talk and drink beer with others. Plus, all proceeds to go benefit local charities in need this holiday season. Pre-order online and pick up at Willimantic Brewing Company Dec. 19th or 20th. Cost: $100.

6. Area Two & Two Roads 2020 Holiday Ornament & Cellar Dweller Club

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree. How lovely are thy branches! Area Two Experimental Brewing (the 2nd location on Two Road Brewing Co’s Stratford CT campus) is offering a bunch of cool accessories to make your tree more lovely with laser engraved ornaments. Pricing starts at $5 each, they have a few options available in their online store. Also, we heard thru the hopvine, sales for their Area Two Cellar Dweller Club will go back on sale soon. Members only get exclusive access to new beers from Master Brewer Phil Markowski, top secret tastings, 15% discount on Area Two and Two Roads events and so much more. I’m hoping when Santa comes to town this one winds up under my tree…..or at least one of these ornaments on it (hint hint elbow elbow, Mrs. CTbeer).

7. Eli Cannons Mixed 4-Pack
Eli Cannons 4-Pak
Eli Cannons in Middletown CT has one of the states most impressive tap lines. Now due to Covid, you can get beer to go via curbside pickup. Pre-order online and throw in some food to go or stop by and hang out in their outdoor heated tents. Sweatshirts might be needed, but hey, who ever thought you could hang out on their patio on the sand during the winter. The Eli Cannon’s Mixed 4-Pak is just $20, you can order yours online.

8. CTBeer.com Drink Local T-Shirts
CTBeer.com Drink Local T-Shirts
Ok, we’re tooting our own horn here but this t-shirt is made for anyone who loves, supports and drinks CT Craft Beer. This one-of-a-kind T-Shirt was hand designed for CTBeer.com by local artist Jason Roeder. We have only 20 of them left for sale at $19.99 each (plus S&H). Be sure to check out our online store for more stocking stuffers including a CTBeer.com sticker and CT Beer Face Mask.

9. Brass City Brew & ‘ Que Tour Book
Brass City Brew & ‘ Que Tour book
This book is basically is a moving brew fest to taste and enjoy at 25 local craft breweries & distilleries who have exhibited at their annual 15th Annual Brass City Brew & ‘Que event (Waterbury CT). Each location has crafted their owned voucher offer to be used on beer, merchandise and more – a $100 voucher value in total. For the beer-aficionado, the book includes a notes section to capture tasting experiences in a keepsake 15th annual Brass City Brew & ‘ Que Tour Book. Each voucher can be redeemed throughout all of 2021 to taste and enjoy at any of the participating locations. Cost: $45, buy on their website at this link.

10. Stony Creek Brewery Mug Club 2020-2021 Edition
Stony Creek Brewery Mug Club
Stony Creek is currently offering a special deal to join their mug club. With one of CT’s most beautiful breweries to hang, this one is worth a look. You’ll get invited to members only events, discounts, exclusive tastings, special offers, and more after paying a membership fee. Club Special: $25 per mug. Deal is good until 3/31/2021. Must call or visit their brewery to order.

Pro Tip: Many CT Breweries and Beer Bars are opening up their Mug Club Subscriptions this time of year. Use the CT Beer Map to search and find places near you to see what they’re offering.

11. Beerd Brewing Hoppy Delivery
Beerd Brewing Hoppy Delivery
Beer’d Brewing Company created a Hoppy Delivery package that is $15 including shipping. The idea behind it was for friends and family that can’t be together to send them a low cost package wishing the recipient a brewtiful day. Hoppy Delivery Includes: Tote – TNE Fold-Up, 4 Beer’d Stickers, Feelin’ Lucky Koozie and 4 beer labels. You can also include a customized note to the recipient.

12. Labyrinth Brewing Company Candles
Labyrinth Brewing Company Candles
Brew Candles are great for beer geeks and candle lovers alike! Hand-poured into beer cans, each candle is inspired by the flavor of a different Labyrinth Brewing Company craft beer. Plus, each candle smells like the beer that came out of the can (for example Turbo Love Juice has tropical & citrus notes). They offer 9 different candles and scents. Order on their website for pickup at their Manchester CT brewery location. Cost: $20 each.

13. Tribus Beer Co. “Blink” Items
Our friends at Tribus Beer Co. (Milford CT) offers a ton of cool swag in their online store. Any #ctbeer lover would be proud to score anything they sell, however, we recommend being on the lookout for their “Blink” items. These are collectable products that are only available for a short period of time on their website. Go to their online store and order these exclusive short run “Blink” items and get them delivered right to your door.

Pro Tip: Use the CT Beer Map to find breweries and beer bars near you, visit their website. Many have an online store where you can buy merch and accessories and have them shipped right to your door before the holidays.

14. Twelve Days Of Christmas Giftboxes
Twelve Percent GiftBoxes
Twelve Percent Beer Project is offering twelve different fantastic beers for you or as a gift for your favorite beer enthusiast. Each giftbox contains a random mix of IPAs, Stouts, and more — no two giftboxes will be the same. But all are guaranteed to have an unbelievably awesome mix of beer. Giftboxes may be picked up at their taproom in North Haven CT December 7th through December 12th. OR better yet, you can have this box of joy delivered for FREE, whether to you or to your lucky gift recipient. Deliveries will be made between Wed 12/9 – Friday 12/11, perfect timing for the holidays (shipping to CT addresses only). Cost: $39.60. Order online.

Buy Gift Cards & Help Support Your Favorite Local Businesses

Small businesses who brew and sell #ctbeer are facing a great challenge. Connecticut needs your support. Give your favorite places a boost by buying gift cards and merch to send as gifts or use for yourself. To follow is the CTBeer.com e-gift card directory to make it easy to shop online at Connecticut Breweries and Connecticut Beer Bars you love. Buy today to help CT businesses now!

HOW TO GET INVOLVED:

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CT BREWERIES & BREWPUBS (in alphabetical order)
~2nd Bridge Brewing Co. – Manchester, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Alvarium Beer Co. – New Britain, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Area Two Experimental Brewing – Stratford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Aspetuck Brew Lab – Bridgeport, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Back East Brewing – Bloomfield, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Bad Sons Beer Co. – Derby, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~BAR – New Haven, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS (Call To Order)
~Barley Head Brewery – Mystic, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Black Hog Brewing – Oxford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Black Pond Brews – Danielson, CT
~Brewery Legitimus – New Hartford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Brewport – Bridgeport, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Broken Symmetry Gastro Brewery – Bethel, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Charter Oak Brewing Company – Danbury, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS (Call or Email)
~Coles Road Brewing – Berlin, CT
BUY MERCH
~Connecticut Valley Brewing Co. – South Windsor, CT
BUY MERCH
~Cottrell Brewing Co. – Pawcatuck, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Counterweight Brewing Co. – Hamden, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Dockside Brewing Co. – Milford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~DuVig Brewing Co. – Branford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~East Rock Brewing Co. – New Haven, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Elicit Brewing Co – Manchester, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Epicure Brewing – Norwich, CT
BUY MERCH
~Fairfield Craft Ales – Stratford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Fat Orange Cat Brew Co. – East Hampton, CT
BUY MERCH
~Firefly Hollow Brewing Co. – Bristol, CT
BUY MERCH
~Forest City Brewing – Middletown, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Fox Farm Brewery – Salem, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Front Porch Brewing – Wallingford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Great Falls Brewing Company – North Canaan, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Half Full Brewery – Stamford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~High Nine Brewing – Deep River, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Hog River Brewing Co. – Hartford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Hop Culture Farms & Brewing Co – Colchester, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Hops on the Hill Farm Brewery – South Glastonbury, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Hopmeadow Brewing Company – Avon, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Housatonic River Brewing – New Milford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Kent Falls Brewing Co. – Kent, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Kinsmen Brewing Co. – Milldale, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Labyrinth Brewing Co. – Manchester, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Lasting Brass Brewing Co. – Oakville, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Little House Brewing – Chester, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Lost Tourist Brewing Co. – Meriden, CT
BUY MERCH
~Luppoleto Brewing Co. – Windsor Locks, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~New England Brewing Co. – Woodbridge, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~New Park Brewing – West Hartford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~NewSylum Brewing Company – Newtown, CT
BUY MERCH
~Niantic Public House and Brewery – Niantic, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Noble Jay Brewing Co. – Niantic, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~No Worries Brewing Co. – Hamden, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Nod Hill Brewery – Ridgefield, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Norbrook Farm Brewery – Colebrook, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Outer Light Brewing Co. – Groton, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Phantom Brewing Company – Hartford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Problem Solved Brewing Co. – East Windsor, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Redding Beer Co. – Redding, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Reverie Brewing Co. – Newtown, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Rhythm Brewing Co. – New Haven, CT
BUY MERCH
~Still Hill Brewery – Rocky Hill, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Stony Creek Brewery – Branford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Stubborn Beauty Brewing Co. – Middletown, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Taylor Brooke Brewery – Woodstock, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~The Stack Brewery, BBQ & Biergarten – New Haven, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~These Guys Brewing Co. – Norwich, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Thimble Island Brewing Co. – Branford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Tox Brewing Company – New London, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Transcend Beer Crafters – Southington, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Tribus Beer Co. – Milford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Twelve Percent Beer Project – North Haven, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Two Roads Brewing Co. – Stratford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Urban Lodge Brewing – Manchester, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Willimantic Brewing Co. – Willimantic, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Woodbury Brewing Co. – Woodbury, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS

CT BEER BARS (in alphabetical order)
~Blind Rhino – South Norwalk & Black Rock CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Cask Republic – Stamford, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Eli Cannon’s Tap Room – Middletown, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Elm City Social – New Haven, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Engine Room – Mystic, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~J. Timothy’s – Plainville, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Jealous Monk – Mystic, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~The Hops Company – Derby, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~The Beamhouse – Glastonbury, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~Westbrook Lobster – Clinton & Westbrook, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS

CT PACKAGE STORES (in alphabetical order)
~Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market – Fairfield, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS
~ LaBonne’s Markets – Watertown, Woodbury, Salisbury & Prospect, CT
BUY GIFT CARDS

Join the Black is Beautiful Beer Movement

The craft beer community is supporting those rallying against racism and violence with “Black is Beautiful,” a collaborative brewing campaign to “bring awareness to the injustices that many people of color face daily,” according to the effort’s originator.

Weathered Souls Brewing of San Antonio, Texas, recently launched the campaign, offering up a base recipe for an imperial oatmeal stout and labeling graphics for other breweries to create and sell the beer. The campaign’s website, BlackIsBeautiful.beer, asks participating brewers to:

  • Donate all sale proceeds from the beer to “local foundations that support police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged.”
  • Make a donation to a local organization supporting equality and inclusion.
  • Commit to the “long-term work of equality.”

“Our mission is to bridge the gap that’s been around for ages and provide a platform to show that the brewing community is an inclusive place for everyone of any color,” Weathered Souls co-founder and head brewer Marcus Bakersville wrote on the website. “We are asking for all breweries and brewers far and wide to raise a glass with us in unison and participate in this collaboration.”

CT craft breweries sign on

More than 1,000 breweries across the United States and in 19 countries in total have registered to participate in the Black is Beautiful effort. In Connecticut, thirteen breweries have signed up to make and sell Black is Beautiful beer. Bookmark this page. As more CT Breweries sign on we’ll keep a running list. This page was last updated Thrus 7/15/2020:

Join the Black is Beautiful beer movement

To register to brew Black is Beautiful, and download the recipe and graphics, go to BlackIsBeautiful.beer.

If you own a Connecticut brewery or retailer that makes/sells Black is Beautiful beer, please contact us thru our contact page on our website. CTBeer.com will proudly promote your commitment to the cause on our social media channels at @CTbeer. Please include:

  1. Name of your beer
  2. High Resolution and social media image of the beer
  3. Brief Description of your Beer
  4. Social media handles where we can tag you

The CTBeer.com community can show its support for the campaign by buying Black is Beautiful beer, taking photos of you and others drinking it, and posting them on social media with #BlackIsBeautifulBeer.

Breweries can put own spin on beer

Although the effort focuses on one cause, head brewer Bakersville asks that breweries feel free to personalize it.

For example, he tells brewers to freely tinker with the base recipe — featuring black, chocolate and chocolate rye malts — to make it their own. For example, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reports that Cavendish Brewing Co. in Gastonia, N.C., will brew a batch with raspberries in lactose while Triple C Brewing Co. in Charlotte will add caramel and Black Lava Hawaiian sea salt.

The label graphics created Black is Beautiful leave room for breweries to add their own logos and other information. The campaign website also offers discounted label printing for breweries.

Similar brewing collaborative initiatives have helped raise awareness and money for various causes in recent years. Sierra Nevada offered a recipe to brewers in 2018 to support communities devastated by recent California wildfires. Earlier this year, Other Half Brewing Co. in New York spearheaded a collaborative brew of All Together beer to support the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 crisis.

Wallingford Ale Trail

Not everything is what is seems to be in seemingly placid Wallingford, a town just a short drive up I-91 or the Wilbur Cross Parkway from New Haven. For example, this is not the place you’d expect the last witchcraft trial in New England to have been held, but it was back in 1697. It also happens to be home to a hoppy-ning craft beer scene with three breweries and a pioneering hard cider maker all within two miles of each other.

So strap on your best walking shoes, let’s go exploring!

We’ll start in downtown at Center Street Brewing Co. (24 Wallace Ave., Wallingford — https://www.centerstreetbrewing.com/), which is not actually on Center Street – so there’s your first bit of “expect the unexpected” in this one-time city of silver- and pewter-ware manufacturing.

Center Street Brewing welcomed its first customers in March 2019, and the friendly atmosphere and tasty brews have been bringing them back regularly. Its red cinderblock with white trim building may be small, but it holds a lot of local love along with a pretty nice award from a state builders association.

The inside features lots of bright, white wood on the walls, long tables for friendly gatherings, and a cool split pine drinking rail all around the perimeter – the remnants of trees felled by a 2018 tornado in Sleeping Giant State Park in nearby Hamden. A roll-up garage door, a nod to the building’s one-time use as an auto repair shop, slides up in nice weather so you can sit in a  small, informal seating area. All this work earned the owners and their builder a top honor for commercial rehabilitation in 2019.

Center Street Brewing may be small, producing 1,500 barrels of beer annually, but its creations are big on flavor and wide in style. They produce they expected range of popular IPAs, of course, but they also have Lucky #19 – a nice malt-forward brown sugar EBS; a chocolate malt rich brown ale (Brown Eyed Girl) and a host of other liquid treats, some of which you can take home in cans.

While Center Street Brewing doesn’t make its own food, it’s cool with BYOF (grab some of the award-winning wings at the Archie Moore’s right around the corner, for example) or you can order from one of the local eateries for delivery to the taproom.

Now, head seven blocks west on the actual Center Street. Take a few minutes to explore the Center Street Cemetery, a nationally registered historic spot. Here you will find memorials to Declaration of Independence signer Lyman Hall, Associated Press founder Moses Yale Beach, and Joseph Benham, the father of those accused witches were mentioned (they were all found not guilty, by the way).

Just before the main intersection with Route 5/North Colony Road, you’ll find Cliffside Brewing Company (16B Center St., Wallingford — http://cliffsidebrewing.com/), which is – naturally — not even close to a cliff. Nonetheless, it is Wallingford’s first “nano brewery,” according to its owner, and home of Enlightenment, a 5% ABV apricot flavored refresher that won Best Ale of 2018, according to the CT Brew Cup judges that year.

The care that went into that award-winning brew also went into creating the brewery and taproom itself, which opened in October 2017. Cliffside’s founder and brewer did most of the work himself renovating the storefront, installing the brewing system and even building his own walk-in refrigerator, according to the brewery’s active Instagram page.

The result is a clean, bright and open space perfect for hanging with friends over a pint or two. Go there to tip back while participating in Cliffside Brewing’s popular trivia or bingo nights. Feeling hungry? Order up a “freshly baked on the premises” 10-inch bar pizzas, provided courtesy of the very CT brewery friendly Harry’s Pizzeria and Tavern in West Hartford Center. Not into pizza? No problem! Cliffside Brewing is BYO food friendly, and carries a selection of menus from local restaurants that will deliver to the brewery. If you’re not up for a whole meal, there’s plenty of free popcorn to chomp on.

Along with its award-winning apricot ale, Cliffside Brewing usually serves about five or six of its own handcrafted beers – each a different style from malty to hoppy from sweet to dry. Variety – it’s the spice of flights, my friends.

Front Porch Brewing Company (226 N Plains Industrial Rd #4, Wallingford — https://www.frontporchbrewing.org/) resides about a mile and a quarter north, just off Route 5 inside an industrial park. And – you guessed it – they don’t have a front porch. But don’t let that sour you – let their specialty sour beers do that!

Front Porch Brewing takes its name from the vibe it hopes to instill: one of just chilling with your amigos, playing some old-school video or arcade games, and bonding over a well-crafted drink or three. And that’s exactly what you can do in this intimate, 1,250-square-foot, one-barrel brewery that opened in late 2017. Belly up to the gray, concrete bar top (note the picket fence under it first), order a flight and have some fun. If the weather is nice, step outside the open garage door and drink in the fresh air with your fresh brew.

Despite the small space, Front Porch Brewing usually offers a wide and eclectic tap and cans-to-go list, thanks to collaborations and off-site contract arrangements with other local breweries. In addition to the previously mentioned sours, you’ll find its popular Reverse Mermaid, a double dry hopped hazy and juicy IPA, along with a mix of traditional and more adventurous styles. Bar snacks, local cider and even whiskey is also available for your pleasure.

That local cider comes from just half a mile up the road at our final stop, the New England Cider Company (110 North Plains Industrial Rd., Suite A, Wallingford — https://www.newenglandcider.com/), the state’s first brewery-style taproom for hard cider and the one exception to our “inaccuracy in naming” theme.

New England Cider prides itself on using almost exclusively ingredients from New England – Connecticut in particular. They’ve cultivated deals with several area farms and orchards so you’ll be happy to know you are supporting many local businesses whenever you stop in to take a sip there or a growler home. It’s no wonder New England Cider often appears on the guest tap list of many CT breweries.

Inspired by a trip to Vermont, the two homebrewing owners/friends started experimenting with hard ciders in 2009 and – viola – history was made in their garage, fitting because the owners are also both car mechanics. The two opened its cider business in 2013, producing flavorful styles that will change any preconceived notions you may have that hard ciders resembles that overly sweet, cloudy brew mom made you have at a harvest fest when you were 8 years old.

New England Cider produces a range of fruited hard ciders, hopped ciders, herb and spied ciders, single-apple variety ciders (think “single-hop IPAs,” beer drinkers), and even ones that are barrel aged in former liquor casks. How you like dem apples, huh? Well, Connecticut magazine liked them pretty well, naming its flagship Fresh Blend one to definitely try in 2018, noting it is “apple-forward, eminently drinkable and refreshing. There’s a reason this is one of the most widely distributed ciders in Connecticut.”

New England Cider’s taproom space is quite limited, so they discourage bringing the kiddies inside. No dogs allowed, either. However, outside food is welcome and food trucks are often on hand. Or you can nibble on the cheese and cracker options they offer while you play a board game while enjoying the fruits of a true CT brewing pioneer.

The Silk City Suds Tours

When you think of Connecticut do you think “silk”? You might have if you lived here about 100 years ago.

The town of Manchester, just east of Hartford, served as home for many major U.S. manufacturing facilities over the years, the most well-known being Cheney Brothers Mills, once the largest and most innovative silk manufacturing factory complexes in the world. Starting in 1832 when it first harnessed the power of the Hockanum River, the mill operated here for more than a century. When synthetics started replacing silk and other natural materials around World War II, it pivoted to making nylon – even creating the first nylon parachute ever used by a human.

That, friends, is why Manchester, CT, earned the nickname “Silk City” and this is the Silk City Suds Tour!

Elict Brewing Company

Elict Brewing Company (https://www.elicitbrewing.com/), just off I-84 in western Manchester, is also along the Hockanum River. You find it in an enormous wood-beam filled 19th-century building that at one time housed one the country’s most successful paper mills, Adams Mills.

As the Elicit owners say on their web page, they are “restauranteurs are heart and beer drinkers at liver.” They also believe in providing an experience at their roughly 20,000-square-foot venue (told you it was enormous). They serve a hearty selection of upscale pub food, offer 50 local and regional crafts on tap, a full wine and cocktail bar, a beer garden with a fire pit and games, an old-school arcade and a karaoke lounge. Phew – after that you will need a drink.

Elicit Brewing, which opened in November 2019, uses a seven-barrel brewing system to conjure up to a dozen beers they offer on tap and to-go at any time. Recent offerings have included such intriguingly named beers as Botched Face Life (a blood orange sour), Marriage Counseling (a double IPA), Tree Like Symptoms (American pale ale) and Yodeling Cherubs (a pineapple hefe).

Wander just 10 minutes south and you’ll find yourself at 2nd Bridge Brewing Company (https://2ndbridgebrewing.com/). They are one of several tenants occupying Hilliard Mills, a nationally listed historic site once home to the United States’ oldest woolen mill. So what, you say? So, Hilliard Mills wool was used for the suit President George Washington wore to his inauguration and the material used for blankets for solders in the War of 1812 came from this very spot. So there!

2nd Bridge Brewing prides itself on having an English pub vibe – and it should. The family owners are fans of English football (uh, “soccer” to us Americans) and they founded this funky little rathskeller in 2015 specifically so they and their footie-loving friends had a friendly spot to grab a pint and watch the game, toss some darts and enjoy a good chat while having a nice pint.

2nd Bridge Brewing naturally has an affinity for making English style ales. You’re almost always sure to find a brown, an oatmeal stout or an Irish cream ale (or maybe all of them) on tap along with the ever-popular variations of IPAs and seasonal brew like a summer shandy.

2nd Bridge Brewing offers no food so they encourage visitors to BYO or have one of the local restaurants deliver to their door.

Now, go take a hike

If you need a beer break, want to make room for more brews or just love the outdoors, take a side trip to the Cheney Rail Trail. Hop in your car, head about 5 minutes east on Hillard Street and park at 2 Main Street – the northern most point of the trail.

The gravel-covered trail follows the old South Manchester Railroad line, a 2.5 mile spur off the main tracks between Hartford; Providence, R.I.; and Fishkill, N.Y. The Cheneys built the rail line in 1869 to carry raw materials, finished goods and even some of its workers to and from their silk mills. It operated until the 1980s, and held the distinction of being the shortest passenger-and-freight line in the United States but also the longest privately owned one.

The Manchester Land Conservation Trust now looks after the nearly six acres of rail bed and converted it into a roughly two-mile long trail. It’s mostly flat and shaded and, if you are ambitious, its southern-most end puts you only a 20-minute walk away from our next brewery. (Or you can double back and drive there – no judgement here.)

Village people, er, beers

Labyrinth Brewing Company (https://labyrinthbrewingcompany.com/) opened in August 2018 in one of the many historic buildings of what was the thriving Cheney factory village complex. This one, a former warehouse used for storing waste silk, has been repurposed into the Lofts at the Mill residential/retail/commercial complex.

Labyrinth Brewing does an exquisite job of honoring this 1885 building’s past. The brick, wood and copper-accented interior give off a cool industrial yet woodsy vibe. Much of the décor and functional pieces inside are either salvaged or repurposed from others parts of the Cheney complex or old area businesses. For example, the tables and bar top are made from the oak trees that were removed to create the brewery’s parking lot. You can even find parts of an original Cheney shipping crate adorning one wall in a loving nod to the firs family that make this place possible.

Labyrinth Brewing took its name from 2006 Guillermo del Toro’s movie Pan’s Labyrinth so you will find a few, but not all, of their beers are named with a sci-fi/fantasy/mythical things of yore theme. Don’t let your lack of knowledge in those fields prevent you from tipping back a glass of Theseus DIPA or Kuato imperial red ale, or make you stick only to the delectably sweet Maize (think it over – you’ll get it) cream ale or Turbo Love Juice IPA. Go out of your comfort zone and sample one of their in-house brewed ciders or fruity sours, too. You’ll be glad you did.

Labyrinth Brewing doesn’t serve food but they encourage BYO items or visit when it brings in one of the areas many food trucks and nosh inside or on the patio. Curbside pickup and weekly home delivery service is also an option if you are nearby.

Urban Lodge Brewing Company (https://www.urbanlodgebrewing.com/) is your last stop in Silk City, just about a half mile southwest on Purnell Place. While it just opened in August 2019, the minute you step inside (or out on its patio), you’ll this place will feel as familiar as home.

But first, Urban Lodge is a fitting name on multiple levels. It’s in a converted downtown warehouse of which one entire outside wall has been painted over into an impressive mural that quickly became the talk of the town. The indoor and outdoor seating areas have a definitely ski lodge feel with fireplaces/pits, long tables and comfy nooks with table games, trivia night and bands providing regular entertainment. And the wives of the owners are sisters with the maiden name of Lodge. Perfection.

Urban Lodge has been doing brisk business since opening not only because of its friendly atmosphere but also because of its efforts to build strong community ties. For example, rather than prepare food on site, they have arrangements with several nearby restaurants who offer up their menus to patrons. And then – of course – there are Urban Lodge’s awesome brews. The five-barrel brewery regularly offers a good mix of beer styles, including a golden ale, milk stout and porter, for example, along with a range of trendy and traditional IPAs. And, yes, they have also have a fruity sour or two.