This passed Saturday I made my way up to New Haven via Metro North to visit friends and check out a few breweries along the way. On the agenda were New England Brewing Co. and Stony Creek Brewery. First order of business was curating a breakfast beer selection for the two hour train ride to New Haven. We had friends meeting us in Stamford with Portuguese breakfast sandwiches and I wanted to keep the beers on the lighter side of the spectrum knowing that there was a lot of drinking to come as the day went along. I went with Nomader Weisse from Evil Twin which is so damn good in the morning, Blood Orange Gose from Anderson Valley and Newburgh Brewing's cream ale which was nominated for best beer label by USA Today. Our friends who met us in Stamford also surprised us with some Death By Coconut which is a perfect pre-noon beer. All in it was a succesful, beer-fueled train ride to go and drink more beer!
After pulling into New Haven we made our way over to New England Brewing Co. I had tried a few of their beers before, including Ghandi Bot and Sea Hag but nothing else and had never been to the brewery before. They have a few cult favorites including the G-bot, Fuzzy Baby Ducks and Imperial Stout Trooper but are generally known to make some great stuff and I wanted my friends to try their beers before everyone's pallet was wrecked. It's a nice space but relatively small likely due to the fact that they only offer samples of beers and growler fills so it isn't meant as a place to hang out all day
That being said on this particular day they had five different beers on tap and guests are allowed four samples each based on an honors system. I got to try the G-bot again which is a fine double IPA but I don't think it deserves all of the credit and trade value it receives. The Ghost Pigeon porter was awesome with a thicker body than most porters and great round roasty flavors. For some reason porters aren't a hugely liked style but I'll never turn down a new one to try. I also enjoyed the Equinox hopped Fat-Ten-Er #8 which had great round and soft hoppiness with a perfect amount of bitterness. They also had an El Dorado hopped version of the same beer which even the guy manning the tap agreed is a weird hop that just isn't for everyone. My general thoughts on this spot is that if you're a true beer fan you have to stop by. Overrated or not they still make great beers and you can never go wrong with free samples.
After a bit of putzing around we finally made our way over to Stony Creek. The space is impressive and I can only imagine how awesome it is during the summer hanging out on the deck overlooking the water on a sunny day. They have a game pit where guests over the age of 21 can play ping-pong, full-size jenga, corn hole etc., you can have food delivered or there is also a food truck or two parked out in front serving food to soak up all that booze. We quickly got a chance to say hi to the owner Ed who was very friendly and every other person we encountered during our visit was great.
Oh wait, it's a brewery I should probably talk about the beer. It wasn't that good, at least by my standards. For locals looking for a cool place to go and drink some milder flavored and agreeable beers it's a fine spot. The three IPAs I tried were all thin bodied and tasted watered down. The nitro porter was fine but not great and I eventually tasted the black lager which was respectable. The best beer I had during my visit was from one of the guest tap lines which wasn't a huge surprise.
Maybe it's my big city bias but I've been to a few breweries in the suburbs that have a devout following from the locals but produce sub-par beers. At the end of the day I guess that doesn't really matter. If you're a small brewery and serving up suds that your local patrons enjoy then it shouldn't interest you to gain wide spread popularity.
All in it was a fun trip, I always like checking out new breweries and having a chance to try new beers. Never say no to a stop at brewery, never.