Tis the season to be jolly and to raise a glass of holiday cheer from your local Connecticut brewery. Bubbly is good for cheer raising but, in my ever so humble opinion, beer is better (and it’s bubbly, too!)
There are many great breweries located right here in Connecticut, so why not narrow the search down to your very own back yard? With so many beers to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start when making such a momentous decision.
The perfect beer for cold weather and snowflakes are the winter warmers; brews that are always big on sweet malts, sometimes spiced, and often emboldened by alcohol warmth.
I traveled the state visiting different Connecticut breweries and sampled several different winter brews. What I discovered is that each brewmaster created distinctive variances of the style. Every beer I tried was unique; from malty to hoppy, mellow to bold, light to dark. There is something to please almost any palate.
I wasn’t able to visit every brewery in Connecticut. I wish I could have! Here are just a few winter ales that local breweries are offering this season:
Back East – Bloomfield
Winterfest Amber Ale (5% ABV) – The taste is roasty malt with a whisper of cocoa. The winning flavor in this beer for me was the cinnamon. It can be tasted from start to finish and perfectly compliments and enhances the subtle sweetness of this beer.
New England – Woodbridge
Ghost Pigeon Porter (5.8% ABV) – The taste is of fresh coffee and some dark chocolate followed by a pleasant roasty bitterness. This is a lovely bittersweet brew that has good balance and flavor.
Thomas Hooker Brewing – Bloomfield
Nor’Easter (6.00% ABV) A spiced amber ale. The taste is super malty combined with caramel, cocoa, and mild spices. And there is a vague coconut flavor that is interesting and likable. The finish is lingering malty sweetness.
Two Roads – Stratford
Holiday Ale Biere de Garde (6.8% ABV) – This is a copper/amber ale. The taste is clean and light. Malt dominates the palate with a whisper of spices lingering
in the background. There is a gentle bittering effect to balance out the brew.
Firefly Hollow – Bristol
Photon Imperial Crimson (8.9% ABV). The taste is a little sweet, a little bitter. Roasty malts are complimented by nice caramelization and subtle citrus. The bitterness is pleasant and doesn’t overwhelm the palate. The finish is mildly bitter and roasty.
Relic – Plainville
Hiver French Saison (9% ABV) – The taste is gently sweet with tart citrus notes along with a mild woodsy hoppiness to balance out the flavors. There is a chardonnay quality that creates a wonderful, complex tasting experience. This is a beer that can be enjoyed by both beer and wine lovers alike.
Southport Brewing – Southport
Big Chill Ale (9.50% ABV) – is a hazy orange-y amber. The taste is sweet and malty; however, caramel and cocoa take center stage. There is nary a bit of bitterness. The alcohol is well disguised with only a bit of warmness to give it away. Smooth and luscious!
Shebeen – Wolcott
Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Rye Porter (10% ABV) – The malt is front and center in this beer, complimented by a good measure of rye. The bourbon flavor is subtle and doesn’t overwhelm the beer. This brew is moderately sweet and slightly bitter. The alcohol is very well concealed. The finish is roasty with a hint of the bourbon.
You can find some of these brews in your local beer store, but many are only available for purchase at the brewery and there is most likely a Connecticut brewery right in your neck of the woods! Visit them and ask for their winter seasonal. Some breweries may even have more than one available; typically in a different style. Get them while you can.