Landing late on Friday, Jersey Bill fetched us from the Hartford, CT airport and whisked us downtown. The Residence Inn was directly connected to the City Steam Brew Pub. We quickly checked in and got seats in the pub. A huge bar with the beautiful backdrop of copper brew kettles starkly contrasted with loud, pounding music. We found a table in a quiet corner, near the fireplace and settled in for a few fresh beers. Starting with the Wheat beer, we were greeted by a banana taste with a horrible musty orange finish. The “Naughty Nurse,” their number one seller, was drinkable, but unremarkable. Our favorite was the Blonde Export Lager by far – this was a solid choice. We also tried the Belgian style offering, Careless Love, and the IPA – both were disappointing. The IPA was fully undrinkable – like hops in a blender with a bit of water – horrid, in fact. But the service was friendly – we tried hard to like this place, but, alas, the beer disappointed.
Saturday morning: We met three great people working there and the beer was much better, though not great. They are Connecticut’s largest brewery and are located in a non-descript industrial park. A young girl gave us a nice tour of the operation. What I didn’t like – they didn’t follow the Rheinheitsgebot with any of their beers and seemed to add a lot of CO2 to the process. On a good note, they had several lagers, not just Ales. Jersery Bill liked the beer more than me, so this one gets mixed review – but tops for friendliness.
Next stop was Brown University to watch my nephew, Evan, play hockey. Dartmouth came from behind and built a 2 goal lead. Unfortunately Brown stole the momentum toward the end of the 3rd and scores 2 goals in quick succession. Dartmouth regained their game in the OT and hammered them hard, but could not score. The game ended 5-5.
Afterward we checked into the Providence Rennaissance – an old Masonic Temple across from the Capital. A gorgeous place.
We taxied to Trinity Brewpub. The beer was very good – Jersey liked the Schwarzbier and I went after their many hoppy options.
The food was good and the atmosphere almost Germanic – especially in the basement with lots of people engaged in conversation at many tables. We spotted a Stormy Kromer in red and black plaid and had a nice conversation with the lad from Brooklyn. The beers were, across the board, all good. If you love hops, there are a lot of good choices here, but also several other good options.
Jumping a taxi, we hit Union Station Brewery. This is big, open space and not as cozy as Trinity, but Jersey liked this one a lot. They had an awesome Cask Ale – the best of our trip. We hit two more bars on our walk back to the hotel, but nothing remarkable.
On Sunday, we drove back towards Hartford and stopped off at a real gem in Willimantic. They were sold out of many beers, but had a diverse range. We met some great folks at the bar and sampled a lot of their beer. Nothing outstanding, but all were solidly enjoyable. The locals were all enjoying the last of the IPA, which sold out in just a few days. I got only one sip! The atmosphere was here really nice – the building used to be a US Post Office. Big, airy and sunny, it’s a great place to enjoy some good beer. Their Stein Club was a neat idea – bring in your own glass, and get it filled for the same price as a regular pint.
With just 29 days until Starkbierfest, we had a good training session at a Munich pace – 5 breweries in 50 hours!