by Samantha Adler
What’s more patriotic than sipping a cold glass of American beer? And it’s becoming easier and easier to do. With breweries popping up in cities all over the US that delicious new lager is that much closer to the the keg at your local bar or on the shelf at your corner liquor store.
I have to say I’m pretty proud of my growing appetite for craft beer (while mildly ashamed at the quantity I consume), especially considering how far I’ve come from my collegiate chugging of Nattie Lights.
A few weeks ago I came across one of the best beers I’ve had in a while, maybe ever, brewed right in my little state of Connecticut! Of course, this title is totally based on my taste. But if you love hoppy, citrusy IPAs, get ready to fall in love at first sip.
I had gone to grab dinner at the local pub in town, Celtic Cavern in Middletown. It’s a small gastropub that has an ever-changing menu of yummy beers on tap, many from local breweries. A floor to ceiling beer list greets you as you step into the basement entrance. The large array of brews are etched in colorful variations of chalk. After squinting at the chalky scribbles for a few minutes too long, the owner approached and excitedly suggest I try an Imperial IPA called Cone Flakes. I agreed, partly because anything with a name somewhat resembling the delicious, golden Corn Flakes cereal had to be good, right?
Exactly right. I took my first sip of the golden Imperial IIPA and was blown away with flavor. This beer is not for the hoppy light of heart. It’s pack full of flavor, and it takes a minute to explore all the levels of it’s hoppy-goodness. It has the normal punch of a strong IPA with a strong flavor of hops, but the added citrus and malt gives it a unique and extremely satisfying complexity.
Firefly Hollow became first on my list of Connecticut breweries to check out. The next weekend I took a drive out to the Bristol brewery. The brewing company is located near train tracks in an industrial area of town, tucked behind what seems to be an abandoned warehouse. The tasting room has a similar feel, with a lot of open space, industrial piping and large garage doors leading to an outside seating area. Iron framed paned glass allowed the late afternoon sun to pour into the open room and reflect off old growlers, glass 32 and 62 ounce jars used to transport draught beer, now used as lampshades and wall decor.
The brewery boasts more than the magical Cone Flakes, it has several different stouts, IPAs and lagers to try. I swiped a sip of the Imperial Choconaut Porter, a dark beer with hints of chocolate and oats, and the Red Lantern, a traditional red ale with a caramel and cherry kick. However, I was a bit un-adventurous and ordered Cone Flakes again AND got a growler before leaving (I’m obsessed, ok?).
The brewery was surprising crowded, for something so tucked away. Friends sat in circles of leather couches, parents fed toddlers snacks as they took a much deserved cold sip (weirdly kids are regular, legal visitors of most breweries) and regulars gathered at the bar. The seating area was spacious and airy, but held the local comfort of a neighborhood watering hole.
Firefly Hollow was my first visit to a local, hometown brewery. I encourage you to try out yours. You might get lucky and find a match made in beer heaven.