Journeyman John

To get a taste of John Watson's dedication to authentic brewing, you've got to see his cobweb collection.
To get a taste of John Watson’s dedication to authentic brewing, you’ve got to see his cobweb collection.

In the back corner of a cluttered garage in Southbury, Conn., a reggae record spins on a dusty turntable, providing the soundtrack for fermentation.

The man who dropped the needle on the record is John Watson, slowly sipping a sample of his sour cherry lambic. To his left sits his simple brewing system, based around two converted Sierra Nevada kegs. To his right is a chest refrigerator dedicated to packaged hops.

It’s in this laboratory that Watson has created dozens of award-winning beers. But beer judges aren’t the only ones paying attention to Watson’s work.

The owner of his own plumbing and heating business is now also the head brewer for Pies & Pints restaurants, which recently added a downtown Waterbury location to pair with its Southbury spot.

“Beer has been my life’s passion,” says Watson, who at over six-feet tall is built like an ex-linebacker. “I want to be able to stretch myself in terms of what I can do with beer. Now I can turn other people on to what beer should be.” Continue reading “Journeyman John”

I Have Sampled This Life: Drinking Beer for Mark Twain

XY Eli Band at the Mark Twain House fundraiser
XY Eli Band at the Mark Twain House fundraiser

Literature breeds imagination, but so does a good buzz. Bring them all together and you have a hell of a fundraiser for one of New England’s best destinations for lovers of stories: The Mark Twain House.

Friday night I had a chance to drink some wonderful local beers at the museum adjacent to Twain’s house, which was the most comfortable setting for a beer-related event I’ve ever experienced.

It was the sixth annual “Tapping Into Twain” Oktoberfest, and it typically raises about $10,000 for the Hartford, Conn., house where Mark Twain lived from 1874 to 1891. There were about 300 people who, like me, wanted a taste of literature with a beer chaser. Continue reading “I Have Sampled This Life: Drinking Beer for Mark Twain”