Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Give the gift of glassware this year

Are you looking for a last minute holiday gift idea for the beer enthusiast in your life? Why not get a high quality beer stein or beer glass from the folks at 1001beersteins.com?

Imagine the joy in their eyes when they discover their new stein on Christmas morning. Better yet, imagine their happiness as they enjoy a craft beer from their new glass by the holiday fire. It’s a great idea, but which stein or glass is right for them?

Not to worry, 1001beersteins.com has a seemingly endless variety, ranging from traditional German Beer Steins to fun and unusual novelty glassware. I personally have my eye on the Air Force 1 Liter Boot for next year’s Oktoberfest party at the work. Functional glassware and a conversation piece all in one, what a great gift idea!

If you’re looking for something personalized to your loved one’s job or hobby, try searching by price, category, and best sellers and sales to find something that will suit your taste and your budget. I’m sure you’ll find the perfect gift, but hurry Christmas will be here before you know it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

6th Annual Not So Snooty Beer, Wine and Cheese Adventure (Photos)

This year's event was a success, thanks largely to the outstanding support and participation from Connecticut's beer community.  Josh Mead was kind enough to capture the evening's activities in a series of photos.  Check out the entire collection here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Introducing would-be brewers to homebrewing

This post should really be entitled "Re-Introducing Myself to Homebrewing" seeing as how I have not brewed in well over a year. Pretty pathetic for a guy who runs a blog called "homebrewbeer.net" but sometimes the truth is not pretty.

Making time for hobbies and diversions has been a challenge for me, with a toddler and a new born in the house. I've been trying to find the time to get back into it, and a friend may have given me the push I needed to get back on track.

A buddy from my weekly bible study brought up the idea of brewing, and asked if I would be interested in getting together with him and his brother for some beer making fun. Apparently they have both become disillusioned with their careers and toyed with the idea of opening a brewery or brew pub.  They figured a little homebrewing might be just the thing to get their feet wet.

Ahh... The old "lets open a brewery" plan B that lives in the back of the minds of so many craft beer lovers, including mine. When our day-to-day lives slaving away at what ever we do for a living loses it's luster, visions of brew tanks dance in our heads.  Sadly the plan typically includes these steps, and these steps only:

  1. Brew a few batches of beer
  2. Stumble upon the ultimate beer recipe with no real brewing training or experience
  3. Some how find funding to open a brewery or brewpub
  4. Become wildly successful with minimal effort

I'm still on step 1 myself...  Oh well, no harm in dreaming and having fun while doing it.  So, what's a good simple first beer to make with newbies?  Any thoughts?

Friday, November 19, 2010

6th Annual Not So Snooty Beer, Wine and Cheese Adventure

Great Beer, Historic Aircraft, and a Worthy Cause

I've been asked to once again assist in the planning of the Not-So-Snooty Beer, Wine & Cheese Tasting Adventure. This year marks the event's 6th year, and my 3rd year of heading up the beer portion of the event.  (see info on last year's event)

Once again, I'll be coordinating local breweries and brew pubs participation for the event. Last year we had amazing growth in the beer portion of this event thanks to the generosity of some great local brewers.  We did so well last year the event is quickly becoming more of a craft beer event, the wine is taking more of a back seat. We're hoping for even more this year!  (There's even some talk of an additional craft beer only event in the future...)

If you're part of a brewery or brewpub and you're reading this, please consider participating. (ITS NOT TOO LATE TO SIGN UP) Leave a comment with your contact info, or shoot me an email and I'll get back to you... (bryon at homebrewbeer.net)

When: 11/19/2010 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Where: The New England Air Museum Windsor Locks, CT
What: The event includes locally produced beer, wine and cheese, delicious hors d'oeuvres, raffles, coffee and dessert.
Tickets are limited: Ticket price and ordering information coming soon!

All proceeds benefit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Hope to see you all there!

What breweries are signed up so far...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beer Review: St John's Brewers Island Hoppin' IPA

The great thing about having your own website about homebrews and craft beer is that people want to share their beer with you, and they want to talk with you about the beer they like and the folks they know in the beer business.

I was recently given a few random beers from a friend of a friend who works at Shipyard Brewery.  Apparently they conducted a bit of a private tasting on a weekend not too long ago and a variety of quality brews were enjoyed by all.  A few of the leftovers were brought back to CT for me to enjoy.

One of the more interesting of the lot was a Virgin Islands Island Hoppin' IPA.  Although it's touted as a local VI beer, they brew and bottle it in Maine at Shipyard for domestic sales.  I'm not sure if they make any in the Virgin Islands, but it would be interesting to find out.

Beer: St John's Brewers Island Hoppin' IPA
Served: From pint glass
Location: At my house
Style: American IPA
The American IPA is a different soul from the reincarnated IPA style. More flavorful than the withering English IPA, color can range from very pale golden to reddish amber. Hops are typically American with a big herbal and / or citric character, bitterness is high as well. Moderate to medium bodied with a balancing malt backbone.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 5.5-7.5%

(In this case 6.20% abv)  On to the review...

1. Appearance - A rich copy color, quite an attractive glass of beer with only a slightest of haze.  Nice foamy large bubbled head that settles nicely with some lacing.

2. Smell - More malty than expected, but hoppy citrus aroma caught on the end.

3. Taste - I like the flavor, probably an excellent beer to enjoy on tap while relaxing in the Virgin Islands, or even in Maine where this baby was actually brewed.  With that said, the hop flavor is a bit understated.  Leaning more toward the citrus side of the hop spectrum the sweet aspect melds into the beer's overall malty flavor.  Carmel with a twist of tart citrus comes to mind.  Dry finish.  As the beer warms the hop flavor seems to come out of hiding, something to keep in mind.  Tasty, but not what I tend to look for in a tongue-shwacking IPA.  This is more of a mild (perhaps an entry level) IPA that wont scare off the newbie with the hop kick to the chops.  Probably ideal for the Virgin Islands vacationer it was intended for.

4. Mouthfeel - A well carbonated medium bodied beer.

5. Drinkability
- This one goes down easily, I could see it doing even more so at a beach side bar with the island music playing in the background.  Not so bad here in it's birthplace of New England either.  But not an over the top IPA some may be looking for.

Drinkability Scale from 1-10: I give it a solid 9, could almost be a substantial session brew with a slight kick.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beer Review: Shipyard XXXX IPA (Pugsley's Signature Series)

I have an agreement with myself...  If anyone gives me free beer, as long as it's something new to me and interesting, I'm going to review it.  In this case, a friend from work has a friend who works at Shipyard Brewery.  Apparently they conducted a bit of a private tasting on a weekend not too long ago and a variety of quality brews were enjoyed by all.

I had hoped to meet this friend of a friend during a recent pilgrimage to Shipyard, but alas it was not in the cards.  With that said, my friend from work had me in mind and brought a few gems home for me to enjoy, first on the agenda is...

Beer: Shipyard XXXX IPA (Pugsley's Signature Series)
Served: From a snifter
Location: At my house

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA. Although open to the same interpretation as its sister styles, you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out. The Imperial usage comes from Russian Imperial stout, a style of strong stout originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court of the late 1700s; though Double IPA is often the preferred name.

You can thank west coast American brewers for this somewhat reactionary style. "Thanks!"

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 7.0-14.0%

(In this case 9.25% abv)  On to the review...

1. Appearance - Amber somewhat hazy.  Modest head but what's there lasts...  Lacing present.

2. Smell - Floral, hoppy, malt and a bit of alcohol...

3. Taste - Flavorful beverage, malt/carmel backbone with strong dose of piney/citrus hops at first and that 9.25 % per volume doesn't hide.  Bitterness quickly turns sweet, like a bite of grapefruit with a little bit of extra sugar on the end.  (Note: As the brew warms the hop flavor increases)

4. Mouthfeel - Medium body, the "bigness" of this beer pushes through, but it's not as heavy as one might think.  Fair amount of carbonation.

5. Drinkability
- Not for the faint at heart, goes down easily enough, but one must pace themselves with a brew like this.  This is not the hop-bomb I expected, but has the warming qualities of a tasty barley wine.  I'd call this a "fire side beer" great for warming up after shoveling some snow.

Drinkability Scale from 1-10: I give it a solid 9, but certainly no more than 1 in a sitting, unless I had a long night be the fire ahead of me, then all bets are off...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

American Craft Beer Fest 2010 Reflections

Volunteering to work at the ACBF this year was a fantastic idea, I had an absolute blast.


  • Pouring for a brewery and interacting with the crowd is awesome!
  • Free staff shirt = "unlimited power!"
  • Interacting with the other volunteers was fun
  • Staff can still sample the craft beer
Down side:
  • Honestly, I can't really think of a downside...
  • OK, some volunteers take too seriously, like that hall monitor back in the 2nd grade...

Here's how the day went... (click to read more, it's a bit long)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

American Craft Beer Fest 2010

It's time for the American Craft Beer Fest!  I'm fairly excited about the event this time around because I get to see it from "the other side" this year. That's right, I'm a volunteer.  I recall my first visit to the fest, I made a lame attempt at interviewing a couple of volunteers, but my camera card filled up too fast.  Here's a little blurb from that post (back in 2008).

While exploring the dark underbelly of the fest, I decided to do a quick interview of two fest volunteers. "How do you like working the fest, is it something you'd do again or recommend to others?" They seemed to like working the fest, but my camera card ran out of space. We may never know how this interview ended... But seriously, there were a lot of folks working to make this a great event. Some even had the pleasure of dumping out the rinse buckets... Not glamorous, but critical none the less. Let's give all those worker bees a big round of applause!

I really hope (probably like most volunteers) I get to pour and interact with some of the brewery staff.  But I may very well end up learning first hand just how glamorous dumping the rinse buckets can be...

The plan so far goes as follows...

  1. Meet Kenn and Dave at my place at 8 AM, grab a coffee for the road and then high tail it up to Boston.
  2. Get to the fest and park in time to...
  3. Make it to the ALL staff check-in (11:30am)
  4. Then its a mandatory section meeting (12:15pm)
  5. Settle into my assignment for the long haul (1pm – Doors open)
  6. Try to make some connections, especially with New England breweries that may want to attend the annual charity event I help plan.
  7. Try to score a bottle or two of something special, if one of the brewery teams has compassion on me.
  8. Help wrap up the first session and then hit the road and find some excellent chow, and perhaps a pint.
  9. Head toward CT, and see what happens from there (depending on the time, etc.)
Should be a lot of fun, I'm happy that I have two buddies volunteering along side me.  We probably wont be sporting the pretzel necklaces this year, but keep your eyes out for the follow guys...

Kenn (ACBF 2009)

Dave (ACBF 2009)

Yours truly (ACBF 2009)

I'm hoping we get a few laughs out of the day, and I learn a little something about putting together a larger beer fest in the hopes of bringing the skill set to future charity beer events back in my neck of the woods.

I may even try to blog or perhaps micro-blog via twitter from the event this year. Sort of a volunteer's log...

Say hi if you see us there!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

American Craft Beer Fest Volunteering

So I decided to volunteer and help out with the American Craft Beer Fest this year.  I've attended the last two years and always enjoy myself.  But working with the Not so Snooty fest the last two years has been so rewarding, I was hoping to take the opportunity to broaden my beer fest horizons a bit and work this one too.  I just need to wait and see if the good folks at Beer Advocate approve my offer to help out...

This might be a great opportunity for me to learn more about beer, breweries and running a good fest.  I may be able to leverage the experience to improve my charity work...

For now, I wait...

UPDATE!  Looks like I'm in...  I'll be working Sat, Session 1 (12pm-5pm) 

I'm really hoping I get to pour, or at least interact with the breweries...  But my luck I may end up rinsing out the spit buckets!  LOL!  Either way, it should be fun...  Stay tuned...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beer Review: Coney Island Human Blockhead

The good folks at Shmaltz Brewing Company asked me to review their Coney Island Human Blockhead, a American Amber / Red Lager with a "B" rating over at beeradvocate.com.

I decided to review this brew with the help of my brother Ted, who has never reviewed a beer before.  His tasting notes are below along side mine.

Beer: Conley Island Human Blockhead
Served: From a pint glass
Location: At my brother's house in North Carolina

Style: American Amber / Red Lager
A sort of catch-all category, these lagers boast a bit more malt backbone and overall character than their lighter sister styles. Bitterness is generally low.

(In this case a whopping 10% abv)  That was not much of a style description, leads a lot open to interpretation. 

Some words from the brewery...

Pound for pound, Coney Island Human Blockhead(TM) is a finely crafted professional. 8 specialty malts of barley, wheat, rye, and oats create an enormously developed body. Juggling 6 hop varieties from European Noble roots to American Pacific Northwest new school flavors balances this weighty task. Traditional proprietary Lager yeast shines true elegance on this innovative recipe for a complex demonstration of pure enjoyment. 10% alcohol nails it home.

Originally developed by renowned magician and sideshow performer Melvin Burkhart, the "human blockhead" stunt remains a staple at the Coney Island sideshow to this day. With Burkhardt leaving after 25 years of performance in Coney Island, the act is kept alive by the current MC of the CI Sideshow, Donny Vomit. The sideshow runs from April - September, and since Donny joined in 2004, he has performed over 2,000 shows. He comments, "As a kid, I always thought it would be cool to have an action figure made after me, but having a kickass beer is a whole lot better. Drink my beer!!" Coney Island Human Blockhead(TM) pays delicious tribute to the wildly mustachioed MC and the legacy of this shocking act.

1. Appearance - Red or burnt amber, somewhat clear, with a slight haze.  Nice foamy head with a hint of the same amber/red hue.  A good tilt of the glass shows ample lacing...  (Ted says, "The beer is amber in color, a little cloudy, nice head."  

2. Smell - A wee bit of toasted malt, some hop, and alcohol...  (Ted detected some dank hoppy aroma.)

3. Taste - Malty, roasted plum flavor.  The hops and the alcohol come through at the end.  It reminds me of a lighter more sweat barley wine with just a hint of cherry cough syrup... but in a good way.  (Ted says it has a bit of an after taste, but he was not sure how to describe it...  Likens to toasty English Ale that finishes like a good cigar.  Brilliant really, I taste the cigar now too, good call...) 

4. Mouthfeel - Moderate to heavy, with a thin syrupy like feel...  Not overly carbonated.  (Ted said it feels like carmel.)

5. Drinkability
- It's an easy to consume, but meant to be savored, a malt bomb that packs a wallop.  (Ted likes the beer and would have another.  Sadly we were only sent one...) 

Drinkability Scale from 1-10: I give it a solid 8.5 -- Ted gives it a sold 7.5

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Air Force Times Article & a Homebrew Review

I received a phone call a wile back ago from one of my former troops...  He was away on training, and found an interesting article about homebrewing in the Air Force in the Air Force Times, and was amused to find a quote from his former boss and fellow homebrewer.

His wife was kind enough to bring me the copy he snagged for me and she brought a bottle of his latest homebrew.

Tonight, I cracked his beer open and here is the review:

Style: Not really sure let's just call it a homebrew

1. Appearance - Cloudy, murky reddish brown, clearly unfiltered.  A short yet persistent head providing a fair amount of lacing. 

2. Smell - Sweet malty smell with a with a underling scent of alcohol. (A note on smell - I have a very limited sense of smell, that comes and goes, so my opinions on beer smells should be taken with a grain of salt... That being said, my nose must have been working that day!)

3. Taste - Strong sugary sweet roasted malt taste coupled something that reminds me of a mix of beats and raisins.  Reminds me of a stronger version of my Frankenbrew.  A twangy bitter-sweet end with a fairly strong alcohol flavor.

4. Mouthfeel - Surprisingly light bodied, lacks carbonation, but that may not have been true for the entire batch.

5. Drinkability -The brew shows this young brewer's potential.  He didn't take the easy way out and make a batch from a "Betty Crocker" recipe in a box.  He took a chance and made a beer, one that wont win any prices, but at the end of the day is a flovorful brew

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