The books have arrived

books in boxes

It looks like it’s going to be a busy week for me. Now that the advance copies of Connecticut Beer (The History Press) have arrived, it’s all so very real that I’ve reached another milestone in this journey. My plan is to lug these puppies all over the state looking for people with the good taste and foresight to purchase them.

The next step is promotion, and I’m looking forward to a fun night on Wednesday at City Steam Brewing. At 6 p.m. I’ll be signing books with Ron Page, the brewer there who also wrote the forward to the book. On Friday, I’ll be down in Branford, signing at their first-anniversary party, then on Saturday I’ll be in Wolcott, signing at Shebeen Brewing’s second anniversary party. I’ll be wrapping up the weekend on Sunday at the Thread City Brewfest in Willimantic.

Last week I had a chance to talk to Leeanne Griffin, who writes for the Hartford Courant and CT Now; it was a bit weird to be on the other side of the interview, but she’s a pro and I think it went well. Now I get to feel like my subjects do and wait for the story to hit the web and get inked.

The Great Shandy Experiment

Raw ingredients for the perfect shandy
Raw ingredients for the perfect shandy

(The following column was originally published on July 31, 2013, in the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American.)

Muggy weather has a liquid antidote.

For this, we can thank the British. They’re known for creating the logically mixed summer drink called a shandy: beer and usually lemonade (although other carbonated non-alcoholic drinks are known to qualify).

I figured I’d walk you through some commercial examples, then experiment a bit with some of my own combinations. Prepare to be refreshed.

Unlike the snake bite (beer and hard cider) and the dog’s nose (beer and gin), the shandy quenches instead of puckers. It’s usually very effervescent, which often requires the base beer to be either a light, crisp lager or a hefeweizen, which is a wheat-based beer.

The biggest player among American shandies is arguably Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, a seasonal favorite. This Wisconsin brewery also makes a Lemon Berry Shandy, which has blackberry juice. Other breweries in the shandy game are Carib (which makes a teeny-tiny 1.2 percent alcohol by volume shandy) and Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top.

A Vermont-based brewer, Traveler Beer Co., has a line that’s exclusively shandies. Traveler has a traditional lemonade shandy, a strawberry shandy, and a ginger/lemonade shandy. The ginger shandy, called the Tenacious Traveler, is my favorite. Blended just right to have the ginger undercut the tartness of the lemony beer, the Tenacious goes best with other food, including salads.


Home concoctions
You don’t have to rely on what brewers consider to be a superior shandy. You can build one at home. And to save you from wasting your time experimenting with lemon flavors and base beers, I’ve wasted mine.

Continue reading “The Great Shandy Experiment”

Shandy mixology

Genius at work.
Genius at work.

In preparation for my column about shandies, I decided to try and blend my own, using three Connecticut beers and a variety of lemon-based additives.

Who will the winner be? Will it be City Steam’s Innocence IPA mixed with pure lemon juice? Or Two Roads’ Worker’s Comp saison and San Pellegrino-Linonata? Or how about Cavalry’s Dog Soldier and Sparkling ICE Lemonade carbonated water?

Stay tuned to find out!

Tart combos!
Tart combos!

Winter Warmer Brew Fest on Feb. 28

CsBrewersguildBrewfestComing up on Feb. 28 is the Second Annual Winter Warmer Brew Fest at City Steam Brewery and Cafe in Hartford, Conn.

Advance tickets for the 7-10 p.m. event are $35. Admission includes beer tastes from more than 20 local breweries, plus a cash bar and food from City Steam. You can get them by going to

If they don’t sell out, tickets will be $40 at the door.

The sponsors are CT Beer Trail, City Steam, and the Connecticut Craft Brewers Guild. The Guild is a nonprofit organization that works to increase interest in Connecticut beer by finding ways to attract tourists and promote beer through festivals.

If you have questions, call City Steam at (860) 525-1600. It’s located at 942 Main St., Hartford.

Part of the proceeds from the event will go to the development of the CT Beer Trail destination map and other promotional materials.

RELATED POST: Brew Fest Confessions


Bridgewater VFD Fundraiser

There’s something nice about being in the middle of nowhere and feeling like you’re at the heart of somewhere.

I had the honor to play Beer Snob at the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department fundraiser tonight in tiny Bridgewater, Conn. It’s not too far from New Milford, if that’s any reference for you.

Beneath a large wooden pavilion with a roaring fire cracking on one side, a hundred or so people contributed to the cause and sampled beer and wine, traded local gossip, and appeared to have a blast. Continue reading “Bridgewater VFD Fundraiser”