With our headquarters in Washington DC and the bulk of our correspondents found near America’s top producing craft beer regions on the coasts, it only makes sense for us to start a new series giving all the states their due, featuring breweries large and small, plus the histories behind them.
For the sake of clarity and with an eye toward avoiding any bias, we’re doing this thing alphabetically. The seventh state we’re getting the skinny on is The Nutmeg State, Connecticut. The first state we’ve covered on the Eastern Seaboard, the state ranks 29nd in total population (3.59 million), is backed by the Connecticut Craft Beer Guild and at last count houses roughly 27 craft brewers. As of 2014, the state ranked 32nd in total breweries with 27 in operation and 36th in breweries per capita, according to the Brewers Assocation.
With this being our first venture to the East Coast, it’s clear that the foundations of brewing goes quite a bit further back than the gold rush era, as it did on the West Coast. In pre-colonial times (the 1630’s) beer was being brewed by the earliest settlers in colonies and towns such as Windsor, Saybrook, Hartford and New Haven.
This need for beer was not only to ensure they could safely drink the local water, it had also become tradition that travelled with them from the old world. In the mid-1800’s, with a wave of new German settlers, the growth of brewing in Connecticut boomed with the state housing roughly 12 breweries around the turn of the 20th century.
Of course Prohibition snuffed out all that progress and left the state effectively bereft of locally brewed beers until the 90’s. The oldest craft brewer still in existence in Connecticut is Willimantic Brewing, which was established in an old Post Office in 1993, in the city of the same name. The craft brewing scene has especially exploded over the past few years as laws have been passed to enable growler and Sunday sales, effectively beating back a number of antiquated Blue Laws.
Three More Breweries We Like and You Should Check Out
Cottrell Brewing(Pawtucket) – Opened by the husband and wife team of Charlie and Ann Buffum in 1997, Cottrell is one of the few brewers that survived the turbulent brewing atmosphere of 90’s in Connecticut. Sticking by only their staple Old Yankee Ale for 13 years, they now offer their Mystic Bridge IPA, plus a variety of seasonal, barrel-aged and special cask releases.
New England Brewing(Woodbridge) – Up and running since 2003, New England has prided themselves in being one of the first brewers in the country to distribute craft beer in cans. They’ve also set themselves apart with great beers such as the Sea Hag IPA, 668 Neighbor of the Beast Belgian Ale and the Gandhi-Bot Double IPA.
Two Roads Brewing(Stratford) – Around for not quite 3 years, Two Roads has quickly made a name for themselves as one of the best brewers in the Northeast. Having already created over 40 varieites, they’ve kept the masses happy with their Road 2 Ruin DIPA, Lil Heaven Session IPA and Ol’ Factory Pils.