If you want to bring the RIGHT gift to a holiday gathering, everyone will like you if you bring craft beer.
If you want to bring the RIGHT gift to a holiday gathering, AND look that much cooler make sure you bring LOCAL beer.
If you've been living under a rock these past 12 months, let me bring you up to speed...
It's a GREAT time to live in Connecticut and be a fan of craft beer.
The current CT Beer scene continues to get stronger and stronger: Hooker, New England Brewing, WilliBrew, City Steam, Calvary, Southport Brewing, just to name a few... Each place seems to be coming out with new amazing styles... oh, we only have like 10 new breweries that popped up within the last year: Two Roads, Half Full, Broad Brook Brewing, Relic Brewing, Beer'd Brewing, Firefly... and Bloomfield's newest brewtastic resident, Back East.
Let's talk freshness for a second here... It goes without saying at this point that a beer will probably taste better if you find it on draft versus in a bottle. If you are REALLY driven, you can drive straight to the brewery to get a growler fill right at the place where it's BREWED! But if you can't get there, your next best option is to seek out a local offering at a package store. Think about it... this stuff was brewed within our beautiful state so it hasn't had that far to travel. This is a great option to get some of CT's finest and freshest beer. Most of Back East's lineup comes in growlers too, so they are GREAT for sharing.
Two cousins by the name of Edward Fabrycki, Jr. and Tony Karlowicz (Southington pride!), have both demonstrated a tremendous passion in the world of craft beer over the last few years. It wasn't until recently, they opened their doors in Bloomfield. While they are fairly new to the scene, they have quickly made a name for themselves. They offer 4 year round styles: Misty Mountain IPA, Golden Ale, Back East Ale** and Porter**. (**2012 GIBF Medal Winners!!) They also have an Imperial line which includes a delicious stout and a IPA (coming soon!). In addition they offer two seasonal styles: Octoberfest and Winterfest. When I heard that they were making a Winter style, I knew that this would be on my list of things to look forward to.
There website reads:
Back East Winterfest is a deep chestnut-colored ale brewed with a touch of cinnamon and local honey. Its rich flavor and subtle spices make it a perfect choice for all of the seasons’ festivities.
On the pour, it has a dark amber, almost leather shade to it with about a finger of off white carbonation.
The nose is pleasant... not as spicy as I expected a Winter ale to be. I LOVE how they not only brewed this about 25 minutes away, but they also introduced local honey into this recipe. As if a beer couldn't get any MORE local.
While I am used to the bigger beers, I could drink this again and again. Totally sessionable. Mild roastiness, subtle spices, honey sweetness... Not filling in the least. A great local option.
Overall: B+. One of our goals with this whole countdown is to teach and expand the mind of people that decide to give it a read. Too many people these days stay in their comfort zone...
Oh, it's Winter time? I'll grab a Sam Winter Lager.
Now while there's nothing wrong with that option, there are SO many more choices out there. LISTEN folks, there is no BETTER time than RIGHT NOW to branch out and try something new. Imagine if you showed up to a party with a growler of delicious local beer... you're instantly a rockstar. And with Back East just introducing this style a few weeks ago, chances are people haven't had this yet. So lead the way and show them the path to drinking local (cause local is FRESH! Right, BeerCoasters?).
As far as pairings go, I would love to have this with some maple glazed chicken wings. As I mentioned earlier, this beer is subtle so bringing in some flavors that would complement the cinnamon spice and local honey is a great choice.
I hope @KayTeeStinch is proud that I FINALLY found a Winter beer that was 5% since I tend to review the higher ABV beers this time of year. And as far as Back East Brewing goes, I plan on stopping by for a tour sometime over the holiday. If you are in the area, I suggest you do too!!
...And tell them that Tony @ Beer411 sent you!!