This past Sunday (the 26th) Stony Creek Brewery held their first Sun Juice Crawfish Boil on the River. Featuring a delicious crawfish boil put on by Clambakes of Connecticut, funky Louisiana-inspired jazz music played by the Funky Dawgz Brass Band, cupcakes by NoRA Cupcake Company, and (of course) full lines of beer from the Stony Creek itself, this event served (according to Jamal Robnison, the Director of Sales) as a farewell love letter to Stony Creek’s Sun Juice (whose summer run has reached its end). The event also focused on celebrating all things summer and the vibrant Stony Creek community itself. Always seeking to connect with the community and clientele, Jamal and Andy Schwartz (the brewmaster) were both more than eager to talk about the event and their upcoming beer.
|The parking lot was a little filled. Yes, that’s all street parking on the left.|
First let me set the scene. It was a packed day; before the event even started, the brewery was filled with people hanging out and enjoying their Stony Creek beer on the beautiful waterfront, and even more people packed themselves into the Stony Creek campus once the tables opened up for the crawfish boil. 120 people turned out for the event itself, filling out a huge chunk of the waterfront seating. The Lousiana theme was amped up the muggy (yet pleasantly breezy) weather, and made complete by the music stylings of the Funky Dawgz Brass Band (a New Orleans-style jazz band) and the pungent, delicious smell of boiling crawfish. This is the first big summer event in the life of the relatively-young Stony Creek, and they managed to put together a big, exciting event that also perfectly captured their motto: “aggressively laid-back beer.” In other words, the entire event was intentionally built for people to slow down the busy pace of their life, drink a beer or two, and just enjoy everybody’s company.
|A large crowd outside, not uncommon for any given weekend!|
After dining on a great portion of crawfish, shrimp, clams, corn, and potatoes, the gathered crowd eagerly attacked the NoRA cupcakes for dessert! To commemorate the day, NoRA brought their own interpretation of the Sun Juice in cupcake form. The Sun Juice cupcake was a vanilla cake infused with Sun Juice, boasting orange curd inside, all while topped with grapefruit buttercream, and a great-looking sugared logo of Stony Creek on top.
|The Sun Juice cupcakes.|
As if the delicious seafood fare, perfect summer beer, and delicious cupcakes weren’t enough, the Funky Dawgz Brass Band brought the event alive with an electrifying performance that channeled the spirit of New Orleans through personal musical creativity. Speaking to the band during their dinner break, they informed me that they all graduated from UConn at the same time, and have been playing together for over three years. Since they’ve formed as a group they’ve seen great success; they have traveled and performed in New Orleans a number of times and even opened for Dispatch recently. Their sound is part jazz standards and top-40 covers, part original compositions, all wrapped together with an infectious high-energy attitude that had the whole place tapping their feet, dancing in the sand, and generally getting into the proper New Orleans party spirit.
|The Funky Dawgz Brass Band.|
As this party was being thrown for the end of the Sun Juice run, I inquired about where the brewery was going next for the fall. Andy and Jamal were more than happy to fill me on their upcoming autumn seasonal: Crum. Crum is an apple cinnamon oatmeal amber ale that is brewed to be medium, sweet, yet well balanced to really accentuate that brisk “bite” of fall. Andy is very excited for this beer, as he’ll be using RIPE (a CT local juice company) cider and sweet cinnamon to explore the taste of fall in a different way than most beers do. As this will be the big seasonal release, there will be no pumpkin beer brewed by Stony Creek, Andy told me laughing. NoRA will also be joining in on the Crum fun, as they plan on putting out a Crum cupcake. The Crum beer will be making a huge arrival with a Middletown Crum Crawl on August 6th, when Jamal and the team will be going around the main street bars and pubs giving out samples of the sumptuous-sounding new fall seasonal.
|A close view of the crawfish!|
This event went off great, with a sea of smiling faces and crowds of people that didn’t seem to want to leave. According to Jamal, events like this only end up coming out of Stony Creek every couple of months or so. The reason for this is that Stony Creek wants to make sure that every big event really feels like a major party (not just an event for the sake of having a random event), and is exciting, different, and ultimately fuels peoples’ passion for good beer and great company. In other Stony Creek news, they are working on a new big special beer: Reposado Negro. This will be a black wheat wine aged in tequila barrels and due out towards the end of October.
I had an incredible time at the Crawfish Boil, and I cannot wait to see what Stony Creek comes up with next: both in terms of events and beer! Stay tuned to my blog for more beer and event coverage, and hopefully I see you at the upcoming Eli Cannon’s Beerfest!