Stone in Hartford!


It’s been a busy couple weeks and I haven’t gotten the chance to post on this experience as quickly as I had wanted to. That said, it was too good to let slide. One of our great local spots here in Hartford, the Wood n’ Tap, had a Stone Brewery Tap Takeover that I stopped by just by chance. I was thrilled. I had the chance to sample five awesome Stone beers and had the privilege of experiencing it with two of my friends who aren’t regular beer drinkers. That meant I got to hear some genuine opinions from them – and you’ll see a few in this post.

First I tried the Hibiscus beer. If you don’t like your beer too sweet, don’t have more than one of these, but certainly try it. It smells almost rosy, has a light fruit taste with a coarse texture, and has a wonderful orange after taste. Everyone at the table liked it.

If you like hoppy beer, and coffee, the Ruination is your dream come true. You’ll experience so much balanced flavor that it will make your pallet scream. The Ruination smells nice and roasty, and once you have your first drink all you taste are hops. The hop flavor quickly shifts to a roasted coffee taste once the beer hits the back of your tongue, a wonderful bitter flavor resonates in your mouth for as long as you can hold off on your next beer. I’ll say personally, this is one of the best beers I have had in awhile and I’ll absolutely drink it again.

Next was the Porter with Chocolate and Orange Peel. It tastes like it sounds like it tastes; there’s no mystery here. It smells like chocolate and has a good balance between chocolate and orange when you drink it. It has a light smooth texture and is easy drinking. Old and new beer drinkers all liked this one too. 

The Master of Disguise is the beer I recommended to my friends who don’t drink beer, and say they don’t like hops. The Master of Disguise is smooth, hoppy, and has a straight forward, clean flavor all the way through your experience. My friend Jen, who typically sticks to wine approved this one. A new beer drinker doesn’t usually notice quite how bitter this is because it’s so smooth.

When I was done tasting samples, I stayed awhile and had a glass of the Double Bastard because a person absolutely has to. This a strong, hoppy beer that goes well with both sweet and salty. A group of us agreed that beyond the hops – you can almost taste a salty maple syrup flavor. The Bastard series is an awesome line from Stone everyone should take some time to look into, especially if you’re with a group tasting beer.

This was a lot of drinking, but really a small sample of all the greatness that Stone has to offer. I want to extend a special thank you to Jen Putetti and Mollie Dananberg for teaming up with me on this one!

You can look through all of Stone’s brews here.



Christmas at City Steam


I’ve written about beers from City Steam Brewery in the past – but I did have to take a minute to write one about their Norwegian Wood this year. I want to confess a couple things before I write more. One is that I don’t particularly love Winter or Holiday beer. Give me anything from Autumn and I will have it all day, but Winter isn’t me. The next is that I’ve always liked City Steam because they have a lot of wonderful go to beers (you can read about City Steam’s beer here), but I have never actually found anything that stood out to me.

Norwegian Wood is both a beer from City Steam and a Winter beer, and I just loved it. Norwegian Wood is a Spiced Beer meaning basically what it sounds, the beer takes on the flavor of the spice that is used to make it.

The initial issue I have with a lot of beers folks drink over the holidays is that they’re a little to rich and creamy for me. The beer smells like light cinnamon and spice and has a crisp cinnamon flavor. It ends with some caramel malt flavor to balance the spice just before the finish. I’ll only say you should veer away from this one if you need a lot of hops in your beer – because you won’t taste that here. The lasting taste in your mouth will leave you saying “this tastes like Christmas.”

If you like decent beer you will absolutely appreciate this and can totally have two. If you typically go out during the holidays to get a cookies and cream martini with cinnamon on the rim – you’re going to start drinking beer because you had this.

If you get over to City Steam an added plus is that they will serve this on nitrogen for am extra smooth flavor.

This is absolutely recommended and props to City Steam for making a holiday beer so accommodating to every day tastes that remains yummy and creative enough for a total beer snob to rave about. Great work.

Lolita for the Holidays


Goose Island Lolita is one of my favorite beers to grab at the Half Door down the street from my house here in Hartford. Lolita is one of Goose Island’s Vintage Ales, all of which are unique Belgian Style Ales. Lolita in particular is a Belgian Style Wild Ale. The wild name points to the bacteria or yeast that the beer is exposed to, and largely gives it it’s taste. Lolita is aged in wine barrels on raspberries and her main flavor is sour.

The experience I had drinking Lolita was great. It smells nice and tart – and my first sip gave me a little bitter hoppy flavor to usher in the sour with some contrast. It went down smooth and I ended tasting some caramel malt flavor and was left with a nice, sour berry taste.

All in all I loved it and think people need to bring a bottle of this to their holiday gatherings. I like it because my family drink a lot of wine over the holidays, and could use a class or two on decent beer. This tastes at least a little familiar, but could really open the door to interest in craft beer. If you have family that won’t drink anything too fruity – this has enough body and additional flavor to satisfy, and if you have family that won’t drink anything to heavy or bitter – this has enough fruit to keep them comfortable and safe.

Lolita is a real work of art, along with Goose Islands other vintage ales and is a great choice for the holidays.

What to do on your First Day of Work


My first day of work in Connecticut was fun. I had been traveling for two days thinking about actually getting to work, and I was happy to finally be in an office. Out of either strong work ethic, or misguided ambition, I was the last person in the office that day. After realizing how much work actually needed to be done to get a new program off the ground – I needed a beer.

One of my co-workers recommended City Steam Brewery to me. It was close to the office, had good beer, and good burgers. I sat down at the bar, and even though it was busy, the bartender took time to talk to me for a little while about places I should visit in Connecticut, what beers from New England to try, and mentioned his mother was the head of the Democratic Party in one of Connecticut’s 169 towns.

This guy was great, but to give a well-rounded picture of the place I should mention that I’ve been there one other time and sat in the dining room – the table service wasn’t up to par with this bar service.

Back to my first time – I ordered a cheese burger & a Blonde on Blonde Pale Ale. I liked the beer – but I had an issue with how it was described versus how it actually tasted (not that it’s bad). It was described as super hoppy and very flavorful. It is – but the hop flavor is a little too straight forward to describe it as super creative.

Another thing that might throw you off about this one is that it looks like it would be relatively light, but it’s certainly heavier than it looks. Overall, this is a good, crisp, straight forward Pale Ale. Bottom line, if someone asked me “what does an IPA taste like?” I would give them a glass of this. If someone asked “Recommend me a new, creative tasting Pale Ale,” this would not be my first choice, but it’s a great go to.

One of the IPAs I didn’t have during this visit, but I like a little more is the Innocence IPA. What I like about this one is the mixture of hops and malt, so it really satisfies everyone. I’ve given this beer to people who say they don’t like IPA, but are fans of rich brown ales, and they seem to be able to tolerate it.

The last beer I want to talk about is a Connecticut classic. You can get it at almost any bar that has a decent selection, including a few spots in the airport. It’s the Naughty Nurse Amber Ale. This is a great standard beer and great for folks just starting to drink craft beer. It has English hops and a light malt flavor that goes down nice and smooth for a creative, but light and accessible taste. This is a must have for anyone coming to Connecticut.

Overall City Steam is a great spot. I’d recommend having a burger if you eat there – and maybe not diving into the rest of the menu. No matter what – you’ll find a beer you like. They also have comedy in their downstairs room on Friday nights. So this is the perfect spot for craft beer & comedy lovers.

More info on City Steam:

Follow on Twitter: @City Steam

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