Everybody’s thirsty

Firefly Brewing headquarters
Firefly Brewing headquarters

There’s just something about a Sunday at a small, local brewery.

If you’re a prowler of the scene like me, you’ll step into a little brewery, and there’s an instant snap of recognition. Not the recognition like, “Hey, I’ve been here before.” But more like, “Yeah, I know this vibe. I like this vibe.”

One of the best things about small breweries is that their tasting rooms have no televisions. If you come across one with a television, kindly tell the owner to rip it out and crush it into bits. The beauty of this forgotten no-TV experience is that people are forced to talk to one another. And it doesn’t matter if you know your beer stuff or if you’ve ever been there before. The conversation starts with beer, and it could go anywhere else. Continue reading “Everybody’s thirsty”

How to Be a Beer Snob

You, too, can be a beer snob!
You, too, can be a beer snob!

I want you to know right off the bat that there is a beer snob inside you. You need to let go of all the negative energy that’s keeping you from releasing that snob.

Maybe it’s the fear of being condemned. Or maybe it’s a tragic childhood spent watching your elders drink inferior beer and going on to lead very sad lives.

Whatever is blocking you, we’ll work together to create a path to enlightenment.

Let’s get the term “snob” defined right away. A “snob” has negative connotations, brothers and sisters. This is not the correct way to look at it. To be a beer snob is to recognize that life is short, and that we deserve the finest while we’re on the planet. We choose great beer and choose to pee in Port-o-Potties at crowded beer festivals because we appreciate and deserve great beer.

The fact that we eschew cheaper beers and spend a little more on artisanal beer is a reflection of our quest for quality, not an air of superiority. It’s only beer, after all.

My job is to help you celebrate the true snob within.
Continue reading “How to Be a Beer Snob”

Connecticut’s Brewery Boom: Firefly Hollow Brewing

Dana Bourque of Firefly Hollow Brewing
Dana Bourque of Firefly Hollow Brewing

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.

To get to Firefly Hollow Brewing (137 Center St., Bristol, Conn.), you need to squeeze through a narrow driveway that’s wedged between a gritty loading dock and railroad tracks.

Eventually you come to an opening that, if you peek at the right angle, you can see the tell-tale, stainless steel brewing tanks.

Dana Bourque, a scruffy 25-year-old wearing a white bandanna, was priming a wall when I stepped in and graciously gave me a tour of the brewery, which was only about half completed.

Bourque was an employee at Brew & Wine Hobby, a homebrew and winemaking store in East Hartford, when the owners asked if he was up to the challenge of brewing for a small, local brewery. With experience brewing at Willimantic and some other breweries, Bourque was on board.

The problem? They needed money. Big surprise. Continue reading “Connecticut’s Brewery Boom: Firefly Hollow Brewing”

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.

Continue reading “Competition by the bottle”