Connecticut’s brewery boom: Broad Brook Brewing

Eric Mance of Broad Brook Brewing
Eric Mance of Broad Brook Brewing ???????????????????????????????

(A version of this column was published in the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American on Aug. 25, 2013.)

Over the past few years, the number of Connecticut breweries has increased and several are poised to open up their doors and let their beer flow. From tiny breweries that could fit in a basement to a factory-sized behemoth, the market for local beer is getting more diverse every month.

For some perspective: when I started this column in 2005, there were probably about 12 Connecticut breweries and brewpubs that I could visit. As of about two years ago, that number was up to around 20. By the end of 2013, barring unforeseen circumstances, we could have nearly 30 individual breweries to frequent in our small state.

Broad Brook Brewing (2 North Road, East Windsor, Conn.) is one brewery hoping to make its mark during this exciting time. Continue reading “Connecticut’s brewery boom: Broad Brook Brewing”

Connecticut Beer Week is almost here

(A version of this column was published on May 8, 2013 in the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American.)

Spread the news far and wide: May 11-18 is “CT Beer Week.”

It’s basically a party that members of the Connecticut beer industry have decided to throw in honor of… itself.

The statewide event non-coincidentally coincides with the American Craft Beer Week. That’s the one that invented by the Brewers Association to promote the craft beer industry. By craft beer, we’re talking smaller than Budweiser, which basically has its week every week, with a special holiday on Super Bowl Sunday. Continue reading “Connecticut Beer Week is almost here”

Connecticut wanderings: The Outer Space

A bar for the young
A bar for the young

There’s a time in most people’s lives that they realize their age and it scares them.

I think I had mine last night at The Outer Space in Hamden, Conn.

There’s this great definition I once heard for the word “cosmopolitan,” which was, “feeling like you belong, wherever you are.” Since post-college, I’ve considered myself cosmopolitan. Whether it’s a backyard barbecue, church, a fancy dinner, or even at a family reunion,  I feel comfortable.

This really applies when I’m in a bar. Since I’m usually there for the beer, any ambiance is gravy. I’ve been in my share of dives, but not for a while. While I wouldn’t label The Outer Space a “dive,” it was certainly the most “casual” bar I’ve been to in a while. Continue reading “Connecticut wanderings: The Outer Space”

Farmhouse brewery meets resistance
Dan Moss. Photo from

A local Planning and Zoning meeting about the future of a possible brewery sounds boring.

The one I attended recently was certainly not.

The nascent, currently named Food Cycle Farm in Kent, Conn. is hoping to erect and run the first farmhouse brewery in the state. So far, it’s been able to help create the designation of a farmhouse brewery, but on this cold Thursday night, its founders needed to gain the special permit necessary from the commission to keep the arduous process of building and operating the brewery.

Not everyone at the public hearing, however, was a fan of the idea. Continue reading “Farmhouse brewery meets resistance”

Sampling: Shebeen Brewing

Shebeen flies the flags of craft beer and three countries.
Shebeen flies the flags of craft beer and three countries.

“I’ve been weird for 20 years.”

From the styles of beer he’s concocted and actually plans to sell, brewmaster Rich Visco sounds legit when he talks about his brewing persona. The homebrewer-turned-brewery co-owner gave me a tour today of his Shebeen Brewing Co.

The former machinist shop in Wolcott, Conn., looks like it was built from the ground-up to be a brewery. It’s already got the floor drains, the vertical reach that cries out for stacks of kegs, and what looks to be a promising tasting room.

More importantly, it’ll have that weirdness.

Along with an IPA and a pale ale, Shebeen will be ladling out a bacon, oatmeal, coffee stout (that’s one stout, not three); a wild concord grape saison; and a dessert explosion aptly called a cannoli beer.

The brewery is set to open this spring. I’ll have a full column on Shebeen Brewing in a March Republican-American column. In the meantime, like them on Facebook.

RELATED POST: Sampling: Relic Brewing

Offering Weed

Yeah, that’s some eye-catching headline, isn’t it? That’s the kind of publicity Mt. Shasta Brewing Co. of California is hoping to get with its Weed ales line.

Its marketing: the “Try Legal Weed” slogan, “Mountain High IPA,” etc., is all about the name. Brewers do that kind of stuff (think “Grab a Hooker,” etc.  from Thomas Hooker Brewing).

And, lo and behold, it’s Hooker who is contract brewing Weed Amber Ale, which is available in Connecticut. It’ll be available in New York next.

The Weed Company in Cheshire, Conn., is licensed by Mt. Shasta in the town of Weed, Calif., to produce Abner Weed Amber Ale in Connecticut.

I tried it at Eli Cannon’s in Middletown, Conn. It was pleasantly malty with an unexpected crispness. Pretty solid. It’s also available at Triple Play in Watertown, among other Connecticut pubs.

You can try Abner Weed Amber Ale at the Craft Beer and Chili Challenge, hosted by Connecticut Public Broadcasting, from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 12, at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

Feel free to pair it with Coke.

Taking Risks, Making Beer

Mike Smith and Tony Karlowicz of Back East Brewing.

(The following column was originally published on July 4, 2012, in the Waterbury (CT) Republican-American.)

By Will Siss

There were these cousins – Ed and Tony – and they hadn’t seen each other in a while, maybe a decade.

“It was a little awkward because we hadn’t seen each other in a long time,” Ed told me. “Then [Tony’s] wife said he wanted to start a brewery and we both just looked up.”

Once Edward Fabrycki Jr. and Tony Karlowicz discovered that they shared the same dream, it was only a matter of how hard they wanted to work to achieve it. As it turned out, they’d have to work extremely hard to make their Back East Brewing Co. a reality. Continue reading “Taking Risks, Making Beer”

The Purist

Paul Zocco

The following column was published in the Waterbury (CT) Republican-American on April 11, 2012.

By Will Siss

In the cramped back room of his small home brew store in Willimantic, Paul T. Zocco and seven customers sipped beers and talked about mistakes.

Newbies like the customers love to talk about the time the airlock on their primary fermenter blew up to create a telltale brown splotch on the ceiling. Or the time they forgot to clean their bottle necks and wound up with beer that tasted like socks, not that it didn’t grow on them eventually. Continue reading “The Purist”


The following column was published in the Waterbury (CT) Republican-American on March 14, 2012.

We’re standing in a 350-square-foot concrete cell and it’s cold, but at least we’re sipping beer. It would seem, looking around the industrial park pod in Plainville, that we are giants (and if you’ve seen me in person, you know that’s a rarity). There are mini-fermenters, a mini-mash tun, and a small stack of bottles.

I’m with Mark Sigman — owner, distribution chief, head brewer and bottle washer — at Relic Brewery, a new member of the growing Connecticut family of breweries. Continue reading “Nanobrewerific”