Books, bars, and beer

(The following column was originally published in the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American on February 13, 2013.)

Cover of Christine Sismondo's "America Walks into a Bar"
Cover of Christine Sismondo’s “America Walks into a Bar”

After years of pining, I got myself an e-reader, or as it should be known: instant literary gratification machine.

One of the benefits of the e-reader is that you can download writing that you didn’t know existed, at the exact moment you want to read it. In the interest of the column, I recently went on a tear reading about beer and bars.

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Cask warriors: Half Full vs. Back East

Conor Horrigan of Half Full Brewing and Tony Karlowicz of Back East Brewing
Conor Horrigan of Half Full Brewing and Tony Karlowicz of Back East Brewing

Two more Connecticut breweries squared off tonight at Backstage restaurant in Torrington for Cask Wars.

Half Full Brewing of Stamford brought it strong with its Imperial Cascadian Ale, which it brands as a “double black IPA.” It was fresh and springy, with Citra hops giving a lift to the natural carbonation, which isn’t much.

I’m not really a cask guy, or a “real ale” man. But I keep my mind open.

Back East Brewing of Bloomfield competed valiantly with its big guns; its imperial stout is one of my favorites. This cask version had a hop kick at the end of each sip which kept it balanced. It was certainly less chocolatey in this form.

Both owners were in attendance: Conor Horrigan of Half Full and Tony Karlowicz of Back East. They were both educating the rather large crowd, perhaps 70 people or so.

The weekly competitions have been a success, in my opinion. I hope it opens up a larger crowd for Connecticut beers in the process.

RELATED POST: Taking Risks, Making Beer

Competition by the bottle

Competitors and judges gather at a homebrew competition at Backstage in Torrington, Conn. Photo by Tony Leone

Homebrewers do three things very well: brew, drink, and enter brew competitions.

Brewers descended upon Backstage in Torrington on August 9 for the second of three rounds of a Backstage/Sierra Nevada Brewing competition.

The final round is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 25, also at Backstage.

The first round drew 35 entries, and round 2 competitors were made up of nine from the top 12 from round 1 and three from an “open” category, explained Stephen Raimondi, a certified beer judge and one of the judges for the compeititions. Brewers submitted 12-ounce bottles for judgement.

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