Category Archives: United States Brewpubs


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A lil gem of a place just off Route 7 near the Connecticut state line in the lower Berkshires, Sheffield’s BIG ELM BREWING came to fruition ’round 2012. Inside a worn yellow aluminum warehouse with faded red cement floors, this quaintly rustic brewpub crafts distinct and wide ranging beers.

A small wood-topped serving station (with corrugated aluminum siding) provides a passive industrial setting. Twelve tile-bound tap handles release the backroom-brewed suds (listed on a colorful blackboard) for customers filling the four-stooled wood tables and extra window seating.

Today’s offerings for a seasonally warm February ’19 afternoon span the stylistic spectrum while leaning on the dark side.

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Musky straw-cleared American Lager will delight blue collar thirsts with its corn-dried barley roast, maize-husked barnyard leathering, pungent herbal hop mustiness and fizzy yellow fruiting. It made a fine mainstream statement counteracting all the more creative and original recipes Big Elm concocted.

Sticking out like a lollipop-candied sucker was the one sour ale available. Salty blueberry souring faded over vinous green grape tannins, puckered cranberry-raspberry tartness and sparkling blush-wined rosé illusions for Sol Crusher Blueberry Gose.

Easygoing Fat Boy Double IPA brought juicy orange-mango-pineapple sweetness to a lightly perfumed floral bouquet and wispy pine tones above caramelized pale malts.

Muskier perfumed hops, drier wood tones and latent herbal snips saddled the lemony yellow grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering and sugary orange-peach tang of delightfully sunny West Coast-styled India Pale Ale.

Ambitious Magnum Ulmus Tripel regaled spicy candi-sugared fruiting with musky white-peppered juniper snips, buttery Chardonnay licks and rum-soaked oak chips. Sweet banana-clove-coriander overtones picked up tertiary peach, pineapple and apricot illusions as well as minty green tea notions.

Black-peppered chipotle and toasted cinnamon added pep to Mexican dark chocolate for rich El Luchador Spiced Porter, leaving tarry charcoal residue upon nutty molasses-sapped cocoa nibs.

Lactic milk chocolate consumed Gerry Dog Stout, an oats-sugared full body with dewy earthen soiling contrasting sweet toffee at the backend.

Just as easily defined as a sour stout, Love Dog Raspberry Chocolate Stout allowed dry tobacco-roasted green grape tannins to desiccate its raspy raspberry tartness and powdery dark cocoa malting.

Wintry brown-sugared dried fruiting dappled Dead Of Winter Imperial Stout, where plummy fig tones grazed molasses-draped dark chocolate malting, mild coffee quips and dewy wet-grained sweetness.




Residing at a cement-floored Industrial mall inside an inconspicuous light blue-walled, black-ceilinged, 15-seat taproom (with track lighting and wooden US flag), NOBLE JAY BREWING COMPANY serves its quaint Mystic-area village of Niantic with a small variety of well-crafted homemade nano brews.

Owned and operated by proud military veteran, Mike Lincoln, Noble Jay dedicated three tap lines to lagers, a surprisingly large amount for such a small pub, during my mid-January ’19 afternoon perusal. Its diminutive interior features a small living room space with couch, rug and overhead TV plus multiple service academy flags along the walls. Led Zeppelin plays in the background as I down the three lagers, one rangy saison and a porter.

Musky German-styled pre-Prohibitonist flagship, Mo Pilsner, retained wet-grained pilsner malt breading and herbal Noble hop lemon rot.

Brisk orange-candied Lager Jammin Double IPL gained grassy-hopped astringency to contrast its sugared pale malt spine.

Perhaps the finest lager, stylistically dryer Chappy’s Red Valor regaled spicy red fruiting and dewy caramel malting to counter sour orange tartness in a briskly clean manner.

Inarguably, the most dynamic offering, complexly balanced First Ladies Saison coalesced its lightly sour fruit-spiced farmhouse dryness with the vanilla-sugared banana daquiri sweetness (and lemon meringue twist) of a heady tripel.

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On the dark side, Fatty Boom Boom Baltic Porter contrasted soy-milked peanut oiling with sweet hazelnut-glazed caramel malts, leaving dark cocoa traces on the back end.

Open for business since August ’18, Noble Jay joins Niantic Public House as one of Niantic’s initial craft breweries.


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Just down the road from famous Mystic Pizza in the basement of a red brick warehouse building, BARLEY HEAD BREWERY opened in this quaint seaport village during 2017.

Taking the rustic gray cement-floored space of a former jewelry store, Barley Head’s diminutive low-ceilinged two-barrel nanaobrewery includes several small sectioned-off brew tanks, three-seated wood serving bar (with large blackboard menu), right-walled couch, four left scattered seats, two window seats and many one-off homebrews by ex-Cottrell brewer Drew Rodgers.

I visited the humble underground pub during mid-January ’19, soaking up one signature staple and seven limited edition elixirs.

Approachable flagship offering, Saison du Maison IPA, coalesced dry saison yeast with IPA-like citric hops, leaving orange-peeled pineapple, mango and tangerine juicing upon mild herbal peppering, lemony grape esters and light earthen musk.

Another crossbred saison, Haley Farm Farmhouse IPA, brought sour lactic acidity and leathery barnyard funk to the lightly embittered citrus hop profile.

Dewy peat contrasted spicy yellow-orange fruiting for moderate Interstellar Secret IPA, an engaging English-derived, New England-styled moderate-medium body.

Floral citric herbage spiked 2nd Enthrallment IPA, leaving lemony grapefruit and orange rind bittering upon piney-hopped grouted oats.

Tart cherry piquancy inundated Love & Pop, an easygoing fruited Belgian ale with murky grain malting.

Lightly creamed specialty grain ale, Chevy Levee & Rye let peaty caraway-seeded rye malting run amuck on brusque herbal citrus hops.

Chocolate-y raisin sweetness uplifted Dave The Great Dubbel, allowing mild burgundy, fig and date illusions to encounter dewy peat serenity towards the midst. The nitro version added mildly creamed walnut, hazelnut and black cherry nuances to the Raisinette-candied glaze.




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Hidden inside a brick terra cotta warehouse-garage along the railroad tracks of Long Island Sound-bound Old Saybrook, 30 MILE BREWING CO. opened its doors in 2016. A quaint cement-floored dig with green and grey walls, indoor patio setup and 3 TV’s, its charm lies in its lean simplicity and good beers.

As of my initial mid-January ’19 fling, there were bottles and cans available for outside consumption. I got to sample eight well-defined homebrews on my early afternoon stopover with wife and dog, Roscoe, before escaping the oncoming snowstorm.

Signature India Pale Ale, Baby Fight Club, stayed tarter than tangy as its spangling citrus gleam allowed spicy grapefruit, orange and tangerine juicing to rise above mild lupulin-oiled pine tones and dry pale malts.

Dryer citric conciseness saddled Baby Fight Club (Double Dry-Hopped), a zestful IPA securing tingly lemon, grapefruit, orange and tangelo licks with herbal-licked grassy hop astringency.

Easygoing Mosaic-Citra-Cascade-hopped smoothie, Sum Pulp New England IPA, retained its stylish grapefruit, pineapple and orange zestfulness above gentle coniferous pining and modest crystal pale malting.

For audaciously wondrous one-off, Going Sour: Pomegranate, mild acidic salinity underlined pleasantly tart pomegranate sourness contrasted to perfection by sweet vanilla sugaring (and picking up latent gooseberry-cranberry snips).

Nearly as fine, Going Sour: Black Currant utilized subtle blackcurrant-spiced tartness to appease its moderately acidic salinity, leaving white grape, green plum, green apple and gooseberry illusions in its wake.

Stylishly soft-toned Rymley’s Winter Warmer, a dryer-than-sweet barleywine, placed muted red grape, red cherry and plum tones above aridly earthen caramel grain malts.

Happily abstruse Raison Saison plied golden raisins to its banana daquiri-sweetened Graham Cracker spine while wispily white-peppered lime tartness secured the rustic grained underbelly.

Coming across like a delightful creamed coffee, Astute Stout brought vanilla-beaned espresso adjuncts to the fore while sweet caramel latte, cinnamon and dark fruiting shaded the jaunty java juggernaut.



Image result for niantic public house and brewery Image result for niantic public house and brewery

Inside an inconspicuous beige-bricked square edifice tucked in behind the village of Niantic’s Main Street just down from the Long Island Sound, NIANTIC PUBLIC HOUSE came into fruition during the autumn of 2018. The spacious blue-walled interior echoes to its black pipe-exposed ceiling height and a few small community tables sidle the bar.

Readied to expand their limited house beer lineup (only two available on my mid-January ’19 late afternoon sojourn), Niantic did also feature ten well-selected local outside brews and fine wines. The electronic blackboard at the L-shaped wood-lacquered serving station listed all liquids.

During my friendly half-hour binge, tried well-balanced Audens Pale Ale, a double dry-hopped moderation utilizing the tropical Nelson Sauvin variety and leaving spicy orange-tangerine-grapefruit tanginess, tingly lemon zest and grassy musk upon its dry pale malted bottom.

Also quaffed crisply clean Shell Yeah! Imperial IPA, where floral-perfumed orange peel sweetness and tangy yellow grapefruit zest got glazed by candied malt sugaring.


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Despite its small, demure serving station area, CYPRESS BREWING COMPANY has the warehouse capacity for enormous growth. Open since 2015, its large silver tanks prove expansion doesn’t have to take place off-site anytime soon. Residing at a tucked away tan-bricked Industrial Park just off the Garden State Parkway near the Raritan River, Cypress currently specializes in a few recurring draughts, some canned fare (such as the popular cranberry-pureed Thanksgiving offering, Miigwetch Pale Ale) and sundry tapped one-offs.

A beautiful backwall-painted Cypress banner salutes patrons to the left side hunter green-walled, blacktop-slated, stone-laid serving station (with eight taps, two TV’s and blackboard beer listing). Its porcelain grain wood floor tile, three rounded black-hued Industrial tables and inlaid cypress tree mural on the opposing wall bring a sterling feel to the pristine bantam space.

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My wife and daughter join me on New Year’s Eve 2018 as I down five worthy afternoon draughts – four of which leaned to the dark side.

First up, vivacious dry-hopped medium body, Insane In The Grain IPA, brought sharp yellow grapefruit tanginess and sweet orange peel zest to the fore as resinous piney hops subsumed the backend (where wispy mango, peach and pineapple tropicalia snuck in). A true counterpoint to the following darkies.

Dry Northern English Nut Brown contrasted its walnut-seared hop char with less enthusiastic glazed hazelnut sweetness and soap-stoned peanut shelling.

Ample nuttiness also welcomed Alva Imperial Porter, leaving molasses chocolate-sugared dried fruiting on the tongue alongside serene walnut, Brazil nut and charred chestnut licks.

Fully realized dessert treat, Nice Imperial Lactose Stout, let cocoa-beaned milk chocolate richness gain cinnamon-spiced ginger leaf minting.

Its more aggressive chili-peppered version, Naughty, allowed its fudgier cocoa persuasion to retain tidy brown-sugared cinnamon coffee tones.



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Inside the large brick-walled expanse of an old printing press, EPICURE BREWING took hold June 8, 2017. Its high ceilings, cement floor, exposed pipes, metal-wood furnishings and old mill setting offer the perfect “lofty Industrial vibe” for brewers Ken Thiffeault and Jim Bojarski to craft their fine stylistically standard fare.

The 12-stool L-shaped bar features twelve-plus taps, a white Epicure banner and several mugs-growlers. Eight high-chair tables sit across the bar while several wooden pews and silver brew tanks don the rear. A vintage 1950 Sunbeam motorcycle hangs bear the front wall.

As I settle in on a cold December ’18 evening before dinner at neighboring These Guys, there are seven elixirs to consume.

Lovely light-bodied Kolsch, Cool Side Of Beautiful, stayed crisply clean as spritzy yellow fruit spicing, herbal hop astringency and straw-dried graining reached a pleasant pilsner-malted biscuit base.

Three rangy India Pale Ales hit the palate next. Briskly Citra-Mandarina-Eldorado-hopped Good Old Tom, a hazy New England-styled IPA, loaded juicy yellow grapefruit tanginess and navel orange peel sweetness alongside a slightly soured lemon zing, leaving mild wood tomes at the sunny citrus finish.

Stylishly bitterer, Damned Yankee IPA evenly spread grapefruit, orange, tangerine and lemon zest across piney hop resin and light herbal nuances.

Despite its lofty 8.5% ABV, easygoing Little Coat Double IPA will appease less heady pale ale fans with its playful lemony orange-grapefruit spritz, cereal-grained caramel malt roast and mild dry hop astringency.

Sweet ‘n sour raspberry puree draped silken brown chocolate malting for Raspberry Porter Chocolate Porter, a dessert-bound dark ale finishing with a lemon-soured berry piquancy that crowds its mocha mightiness.

Dark chocolate bittering and soy-sauced earthen dewiness garnished semi-enigmatic Lightning Struck Twice Oatmeal Stout to its milk-sugared oats base.

Syrupy chocolate overwhelmed the toasted coconut adjunct of Zussamen Chocolate Coconut Stout, leaving subtle burgundy, espresso, marshmallow and dried fruit reminders.


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Right in the heart of downtown South Norwalk, IRON BREWING COMPANY opened in 2017 and soon became a well-attended local destination. Utilizing the slogan “better beer thru chemistry,” this red-bricked pub (formerly housing Guvnor’s Brewery) is run by three home brewing research chemists competing for recipes to fill its four sterling glass-encased copper tanks placed directly behind the serving station.

At its fifteen-seat copper-topped bar (with four sports-centric TV’s), seven tap handles serve homemade beers and cider.

Three community tables and fourteen dining tables sidle the bar while three back-spaced lounge sofas bring subtle sophistication. Industrial furnishings, Edison lights and exposed pipes fill out the medium-sized high-ceilinged venue. Burgers, wings and appetizers don the light menu.

My wife and I grab some hummus while imbibing four fine house offerings available this cold December ’18 afternoon.

Brisk MF Kolsch retained a spritzy lemony orange spicing delicately enjoined by grassy hop astringency and dry pale malt bliss.

Stylistically robust Hierro Miguel Vienna Lager brought toasted caramel spicing to frisky red-orange fruiting in a serene manner.

Approachable Washington Street IPA linked light grain-hopped musk to vegetal-tinged herbal hop restraint, recalling a lighter pale ale. Yet its orange-spiced grapefruit, pineapple and peach tang and mild wood tones (IPA trademarks) soon took over alongside teasing vanilla cream sugaring.

Sedate Nitro Winter Stout may’ve lacked seasonal Christmas spicing, but its soft-tongued cocoa powdering, dark chocolate rift, black coffee bittering and mild hop char sustain.


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A few doors down from Epicure Brewing in the historic harbor town of Norwich, THESE GUYS BREWING COMPANY resides inside the space once occupied by an 1890′s-built Prohibition Era pub. Its bronze stamped tile ceiling, rustic wood columns and exposed pipes bring back the feel of yesteryear while brewer Becka Alberts (formerly a Willimantic Brewing apprentice) crafts easygoing fare to go alongside healthy portions of pub food. A few well-chosen outside brews such as Allagash Wit are also available.

Open since August 2015, These Guys 15-seat front bar (with corner TV) serves several four-seat tables and a quaint solarium-draped back dining room.

During my mid-December ’18 dinner excursion, imbibed five stylishly well-rounded brews (crafted at the hidden back tanks) to go alongside nachos, butternut squash and guacamole.

First up, approachable straw-hued moderation, Effed Up On Pils, brought peated corn whiskey snips to delicate yellow-orange fruiting, sweet oats-sugared pilsner malts and pithy Hallertau-hopped herbage.

Unfiltered American-styled wheat ale, Batch 100, stayed placid as mildly spiced citrus tones gained grassy hop astringency. light white wheat malting and wispy herbal notions.

Polite autumnal seasonal, Lil Narwitch Imperial Pumpkin Ale, pleated yam-spiced pumpkin roast into lemondrop-candied souring and caramelized pale malts.

Semi-sweet milk chocolate creaming eased into Kaiser Willie Oatmeal Stout, leaving ancillary dark-roasted coffee, cocoa nibs and espresso illusions to saddle toffee-spiced rye malts.

Before heading out, stylishly mild Timeout Corner Barleywine (a bashful 10% ABV collaboration with nearby Outer Light Brewing) placed tingly toffee-spiced sweetness alongside caramelized almond-buttered baked apple sedation.



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Residing in the sleepily rustic Washington County village of Fort Ann (ten miles from the Vermont border) at a brown-shingled red brick Colonial edifice on the second floor, BATTLE HILL BREWING COMPANY opened Labor Day, 2015. The pride of entrepreneurial brewer, Jim Hume, its cozy diner-like setting and fine pub food (salads/ sandwiches/ wings) go well with the well-realized handcrafted draught brews.

A blue sign with white Battle Hill Brewing lettering leads patrons up the stairs to the oak wood interior. There are ten tables fronting the 12-stool serving station (with large blackboard beer menu, Edison lights and ten tap handles). An outdoor back deck creates more seating space.

On my early December ’18 afternoon perusal, my wife and I sampled eight delectable, well-rounded concoctions served by the convivial Hume while a host of women grab tables for lunchtime imbibing. Most offerings were named after historic Revolutionary War symbols from the 1777 Battle of Fort Ann.

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For starters, polite grain musk fronted semi-bold Grains Of Liberty, as maize-dried rye breading and raw-honeyed wheat malts combine with earthen herbal hop astringency.

A similar raw grain base solidified the lemon-dried watermelon rind pickling and delicate blueberry souring of Queen Berry Anne, a celery-watered fruit ale with a mildly embittered hop bed.

Mild Vienna-malted Hessian Ale maintained a mild buttery creaminess for its grain-toasted white breading.

Another grain-forward moderation was Fort Ann’s Amber, a barley-roasted pleasantry with bittersweet chocolate-coffee wisps and buttery astringency.

Delightful English-styled Burgoyne’s Red let sweet Maris Otter malts pick up honey-spiced caramelization and dewy earthen rye tones as well as tamped-down citric hop dryness.

Two approachable India Pale Ales were next. Sessionable War Whoop IPA kept its subtle piney citrus hop bittering enthused by tangy grapefruit-orange-lemon zesting and candied mango-peach sugaring, leaving crystal pale malt sweetness and dank herbal respites in its wake.

Just as easygoing (and brewed for Veteran’s Day), Hip Hip Hoorah IPA had a lighter bitterness and sweeter spiced pale malt setting as peachy grapefruit, orange and tangerine tanginess confronted latent herbal snips.

Many Battle Hill brews were anchored by earthen bottoms. Mocha-dried Cocoa Porter had one as well. Its murkily bittersweet cocoa-powdered dark chocolate, espresso and fudged brownie triage gained a sugared oats smidge to confront any soiled dew.

I bet English ale hounds would love the grainier beer profiles presented here.


Photo of Mean Max Brew Works - Glens Falls, NY, United States. Entrance on Glen Street.


Just across the street from the firmly established Davidson Brothers Brewing in the heart of Glen Falls, three-barrel nanobrewery, MEAN MAX BREW WORKS, came aboard during August 2014. Founding proprietors Matt Barry and Dave Wells craft fine standard fare that retain stylistic intent as well as interestingly robust ‘big beers.’

Four patina columns, reclaimed wood furnishings and several international flags don the narrow space. Clustered clear-balled chandeliers hang at the L-shaped serving station (with twelve taps, electric beer menu and refrigerated bottles and cans). The back-spaced brew tanks relinquish many well-designed liquids.

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My wife and I touched down at Mean Max during early December ’18, quaffing four swell dark ales and one ambitious pale ale on this overcast afternoon.

For starters, bittersweet More Funner proved to be a fruitfully balanced pale ale with juicy orange-peeled grapefruit, peach, pineapple, tangerine and mango tanginess guarded by light hop spicing and grouty malt graining.

Next came the darkies – each with its own fairly distinct personality.

Amiable dessert fodder, Shotgun’s Porter, retained sweet brown chocolate luster, glazed vanilla spicing and toasted coconut remnants over lightly embittered charred hops.

Sweet milk stout, Percolator Coffee, let its sugar-creamed coffee frontage gain fudgy dark chocolate undertones and mild cocoa nibs wisps.

Soft-creamed nitrogenated moderation, Stout No Doubt, brought mild nut-charred espresso coffee serenity to velvety dark chocolate malts.

Christmastime chocolate crème de mint knockoff, Twas The Night, proved to be a voluptuous porter as chocolate-chipped cookie dough malts gained dry cinnamon-barked spicing and delicate vanilla creaming.

There are also several Mean Max reviews of bottled and canned offerings in the Beer Index.



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Residing at a fairly inconspicuous gray aluminum warehouse with a large grain silo in the rural Industrial town of Clifton Park (ten minutes north of Albany), SHMALTZ BREWING COMPANY has a long history that goes back to the Nineties – before the brewpub craze hit full stride. Led by adventurously nomadic gypsy brewer, Jeremy Cowan, an entrepreneurial San Francisco resident with bi-coastal interests, Shmaltz found a cool niche crafting unorthodox malt-dominant beers celebrating his Judaic heritage.

In 2013, marketing and sales braniac, Cowan, opened this spacious 50 barrel brewhouse. Though most of the site is taken up by gigantic backroom brew tanks, the quaint serving station area looks more like a no-nonsense beer store with its bottles and cans spread all across the smallish venue. A fire-pitted smokers lounge patio leads customers into the wood-furnished pub.

On this rainy Friday evening in early December 2018, I get to quaff a few tap-only delights while buying a few bottles of previously untried fare.

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Part of Shmaltz’s Star Trek beer series, Profit Motive Hopped-Up Golden Ale utilized IPA-like yellow grapefruit and orange rind bittering as well as piney hop astringency to balance its grain-toasted pale malt sweetness.

Caramelized plum invigorates 838 Plump Monk, a nifty Belgian Dark Ale with candied prune-raisin-fig sentiments and lilting port-burgundy wining drifting into dried cocoa malts.

Fruitful double dry-hopped enticement, 838 DDHMAO New England-styled IPA brought juicy orange-peeled grapefruit tanginess to the fore as ancillary peach-mango-pineapple tropicalia gained luster over its creamy vanilla-sweet pale malt base.

Honeyed apple cider and spritzy lemon snips engaged light-bodied Apples & Honey Imperial Lager, though its lager base seems nebulous and its delicate setting seemed out of place amongst the maltier fare.

For chestnut-hued strong ale, Chanukah In Kentucky, Jim Beam bourbon whiskey subtly soaks seamlessly into vanilla-beaned chocolate, coffee, cola and hazelnut pleasantries as well as dark cherry niceties above its oats-sugared caramel malt base.

Finally, 2008′s Rejuvenator (aged 10 years) celebrated the year of the fig in easygoing fashion. Brown-sugared prune, raisin and cherry sweetness reached its chewy chocolate center while dewy chestnut tones and wispy molasses, pecan, toffee and grape reminders added further subtle complexities.