Last week I gave you all my “State of the Blog.” This was sort of a re-introduction of Malted Musings, where I’ve been, and what I’m going to do moving forward. This week I wanted to take stock of my subject matter: beer. More particularly, I wanted to take a quick snapshot of Connecticut beer in general. In other words, has the scene changed any since I took my long hiatus?
Short Answer? Yes.
To make a long story short, CT has seen explosive growth in the past few years, with no sign of stopping in sight. When I mothballed Malted Musings, there were around 60 – 70 local breweries. At the time of writing this (according to the Connecticut Brewers Guild) there are around 104 breweries up and running, with 23 more in the works. Considering that (according to the ever-so-accurate Wikipedia) there are 169 towns in CT total, this puts the state well on track for every town (or region at least) to have a brewery in town. This is like a European model, in which everyone has their own hometown brewery a few miles up the road. Awesome!
Ok, so CT has a ton of beer. What’s it all taste like? First, the quality from brewery to brewery can fluctuate wildly. On one hand, you have some brewers learning as they go, coming out with exciting, but uneven brews. On the other side of things, you have your multi-million dollar operations, employing science labs to ensure their beer is uniform from batch to batch. In addition to that, CT brewers seem to love experimentation. There are no set “rules” for making beer and CT brewers (in the true New England spirit) more or less do whatever they want! Sours are big right now, but with a 30-minute drive you could find locally produced beer of almost limitless varieties, from stouts and porters, to ales and lagers, to Belgians, to farmhouse styles, to IPAs and DIPAS, and everything else in between.
Speaking of IPA’s & Connecticut Beer . . .
You will find many, many IPA’s out in the wild. I have . . . thoughts, on this particular phenomenon which I will detail in a future blog post. To give you the overview, I think one of the few dangers for the CT beer scene (besides if people just all of a sudden stop liking beer) is over-reliance on a trend. IPA’s, while big now and for the past couple of years, can’t remain in style forever. It does make me a little nervous to walk into a bar or brewery and see 60 – 70%+ of the tap lines dominated by a single style. I just worry that sticking on one style for too long will dampen the creativity that New England is known for, as well as blunt the casual beer drinker’s desire to ever branch out to something different. But I digress; my full thoughts on the IPA trend will coming out soon!
So What Does This Mean to You, the Beer Fan?
During my hiatus, Connecticut beer has evolved, pushed forward, and now is one of the best places to drink beer around. I would even go as far to say that CT has developed a national reputation for this beer, which is refreshing: it’s nice to be known for something positive for a change! The CT beer scene has something for every beer fan; from homebrew enthusiasts to someone who doesn’t know a thing about beer but would rather support small businesses when they do drink. With so much growth, CT can easily offer a beer (or cider, or liquor) for virtually every taste — all you have to do is find a few local spots and check ’em out! Join me in the coming weeks here for more beer dialogue and some exciting Instagram changes. Speaking of which, follow me on Instagram and Facebook for the latest brew news and tasting notes. Until then, I’ll see you where the pints live. Cheers!