In Connecticut we’re coming up on 100 breweries, and we’ve seen a dramatic spike in the past three years. What was once a cause for celebration and curiosity and I-gotta-get-over-there has turned into…
But why? I’ve been an avid local brewery visitor for 15 years. I love everything about them, despite hit-or-miss selection and irritating acoustics. Weirdly bright lighting? Fine! Unfocused and uninformed bartenders? Not a problem. Every one that’s opened in Connecticut is in it for their own right reasons, I can almost always find at least one beer I like a lot.
So why did I lose that sensation, starting about a year ago? What numbed me to the excitement of a new venture and new beer? And how do I get that feeling back?
I suspect that overload is the culprit. If you visit any kind of arena too often over a period of time, be it baseball stadiums or concert venues or restaurants, you’re bound to face stimulation fatigue. And it’s not just the visiting, but the experiences themselves can smear into one another until you can’t quite discern what makes this former-frozen-yogurt-joint-now-brewery different from this used-to-be-farm-equipment-storage-now-brewery.
And I hate to say it, but after a while the stories behind them blend together, especially by the 70th or so brewery. That’s not to say that each and every one isn’t special and their lives aren’t unique and delightful. They are. But it’s kind of tough differentiating which white male team in their 30s used to be in insurance and which ones are middle school teachers.
What a luxury it is to have this problem: oh, no, you have too many cool breweries to visit! I’m not saying I’m actively suffering. I’m just saying I’m in a bit of a funk.
So, here’s what I’m doing to get out of said funk. First of all, I’ve already decided I’m not going to chase down all 100 breweries. Some of them are at least an hour away, and I wish all of those breweries well. (If they want to pay for my Uber, I’m ready to ride and give out 5-star reviews like Halloween candy.)
Secondly, to get back into writing about new breweries, I’m going to focus more on my experience than on documenting all the facets of what brought the brewery to life. I’ll include some of that, of course, as I’m endlessly curious about how people could actually risk their livelihood to run a brewery, even during this Golden Age. My recent column about Noble Jay Brewing in Niantic went in this direction.
Lastly, I don’t necessarily need to try every single beer. I’ll gladly try your double dry hopped, oak flaked NEIIPA, but I know my taste and that will lead me to your porter or stout and thanks for playing.
If you’re new to the beer scene or feeling a tinge of jadedness, there’s more to enjoy than ever. Just don’t let it underwhelm you.