Among all to choose from, which CT beer should I bring?

A selection of (mostly) CT beer from Bottle Stop in Torrington, Conn.
A selection of (mostly) CT beer from Bottle Stop in Torrington, Conn.

After 10 hours of driving I just have a couple more to go before I reach Asheville, NC. That’s where the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference is being held this year. And if you think bringing a gift to a friend who has everything is pressure, you can sort of imagine how I felt when I needed to choose a Connecticut beer for our bottle share.

There are plenty of choices, at least compared to how CT beer was just five or six years ago. So many questions: Would they want to try something exotic? Do they want the most bitterest of bitter? Do they want the one with the weirdest ingredients? Bottle or can?

In the end I didn’t overthink it. I went toBottle Stop in Torrington and scanned my choices (see picture). I chose the Ginga’ Ninja by Black Hog of Oxford, and because it’s my favorite, the Porter by Back East.

Looking forward to a fun few days!

Trip to the near east

Tasters sip it up at Cottrell Brewing Company.
Tasters sip it up at Cottrell Brewing Company.

While the explosion of new breweries is making shockwaves in central and southern Connecticut, it’s easy to forget the eastern part of the state. It’s well worth the ride to get tastes of seasoned veteran Cottrell Brewing Co. and brash newcomer Beer’d Brewing Co., which is just what a group of us did last weekend.

When you drive through Stonington off of Interstate 95 to get to the village of Pawcatuck, you’re met with some beautiful properties. It’s a world away from the hulking brick factory along the Pawcatuck River that houses Cottrell Brewing. The factory used to be the home of a printing press business owned generations ago by the Cottrell family; it wasn’t until 1997 that Charles Cottrell Buffam opened a brewery in the same space as his ancestors and named it after his mother’s side of the family.

Despite the size of the brewery, the tasting area is rather small: there are just a few taps set up near the entrance. However, the hospitality is great: we were treated to pours and full descriptions of Cottrell’s offerings. For many years Cottrell Brewing made only one beer: Old Yankee Ale. It’s a smooth, caramel-tinged amber ale that goes well with a lot of food, especially when it’s grilled. A few years ago it branched out with its Mystic Bridge India Pale Ale, which is certainly “English” in its appeal, meaning it’s not super-bitter like a lot of American versions of IPAs. Cottrell’s latest is the Stonington Glory Pilsner that drinks clean and has a few floral notes to it.

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