Just off Main Street in the olden harbor-bound merchant town of Norwich, Connecticut (a.k.a. The Rose of New England), THESE GUYS BREWING COMPANY opened August ’15. Tucked into a red-bricked urban setting with a black-framed window frontage and oval hop-designed signpost, this homey establishment has the interior appearance of a Prohibition Era Speakeasy with its stamp-tinned copper tile bar walls, starburst Edison light bulbs and winding exposed pipes.
A sterling red brick-walled beer garden atrium (shown above) adds a greenhouse affect separating the front pub from the backroom brewing area (formerly used as grain storage for a Revolutionary Wartime hotel) where seven stainless steel tanks store brewer Rebecca Alberts’ well-rounded craft beer offerings.
Working under the tutelage of famed Willimantic brewmaster, David Wollner, Alberts (currently Connecticut’s only female head brewer) claims she brews what she likes to drink, adding that “creative people like creative beer.”
Though I didn’t get to sample the food on my initial May ’16 stopover, the varied menu features splendid dishes such as Braised Short Ribs over stout onion risotto, Lobster-stuffed Mac & Cheese, Tuna Tartar and other well-designed main courses.
My wife and I grab seats directly across the central beer draughts at the bar to consume seven diverse homemade elixirs. There are also a few draughts set aside for outside brews such as Outer Light Ninja Trail Green Tea, Relic Flaven Foal Double Dry-Hopped IPA and Black Hog Citra (reviewed in Beer Index).
First up, tartly fruited moderation, Jeanne’s Dream Apricot Wheat, brought hop-dried apricot puree subtlety to orange-candied red apple, peach and tangerine tones – like a liquified Fruit Roll-Ups.
Next, brusquely crisp Hop Sense Pale Ale showed lots of depth as its lightly pined orange-peeled grapefruit bittering contrasted lightly creamed pale malt sugaring over the buttered biscuit base.
Tantalizingly centrist caramel-spiced Thames River Red will please lighter thirsts as well as bolder palates with its toasted oats sweetness, glazed red fruiting and earthen dewiness.
Brisk West Coast-styled Hop Spring IPA let yellow grapefruit-juiced orange rind bittering receive wood-dried Centennial-Columbus hop resin to contrast floral mango, peach and pineapple tropicalia over clean celery watering. Tangy Against The Grain IPA competed favorably with its tangerine, clementine and navel orange fruiting picking up lightly embittered grassy hop insistence and sedate pine underbrush.
On the dark side, wonderfully rich Kaiser Willy Imperial Stout draped creamy black chocolate malting and coffee-roasted bittering over ashen hops, gaining ancillary cocoa nibs, espresso, cappuccino and vanilla tones at the bulky mocha finish.
The intriguingly serene cask conditioned Kaiser Willy maintained soft-toned splendor as the coffee-roasted black chocolate creaming gained black cherry illusions and oats-charred sedation.