If you’re a craft beer lover from Connecticut and haven’t heard of Beer’d Brewing Company, please send me the address of the rock you’re living under and I’ll deliver some Hobbit Juice four-packs. Not only are the tap handles unmistakable in bars across the state, but the beer speaks for itself. The people at Beer’d pride themselves on putting all the effort required to make great handcrafted ales, and they do so with ease.
The microbrewery is co-owned by Aaren Simoncini (the man with the beard) and Precious Putnam. The purpose of Beer’d is to get back to the days when beer was made by someone down the street, not by some multi-national corporation, a true local offering. They aren’t concerned about growing and expanding as fast as they can, but rather taking the time to make each beer as close to perfection as possible. It’s safe to say they’ve accomplished this goal thus far.
Located in Stonington inside the American Velvet Mill, the excitement of this brewery can be heard from afar. The Velvet Mill provides a somewhat strange venue; cavernous empty space, random hot dog guy, 10x10 foot convenience store, but the faint noise of people enjoying craft beer was apparent upon arrival.
We turned a corner, and just like Las Vegas popping out of Desert Valley, there it was. Guests were packed to the gills of the 217-gallon brew house, fans blowing at top speeds to keep the masses happy, and a lazy line spilling out of the brewery for growler fills. We hopped in the adjacent line for the free samples, that’s right, free samples, and found out just what makes this place so great.
World at Large, is an American Pale Ale with a punch of hops. The outgoing hop profile is something that became a trend as the visit went on. What starts off like a regular APA, or even a wheat beer, quickly gets pushed aside for a nice dosage of Amarillo and Simcoe. The popular tandem provides an aggressive take on something that’s normally a little more laid back, but we weren’t complaining.
Riff is another Simcoe creation but this time, clocking in at 8.8% ABV, it doesn’t mess around. An Imperial IPA can be a challenging task. For one, it’s heavy, a higher alcohol content can usually lead to thicker malt flavors. But when done right, the Double IPA, DIPA, IIPA, or whatever you want to call it, can be masterful. Riff was the first of four masterful IIPA’s that we were able to get our hands on.
Pineapple and mango popped out on the nose for this one, combining with pine on the palate for a well done finish. You did taste the alcohol content the most on this one, but is that really a bad thing? For those who prefer a sneaky tasting IIPA, the next few really nailed it.
Many breweries have their staple beer, one that truly defines the character of the establishment. For Beer’d, it’s Dogs and Boats. With a dried out malt backbone, the hops really do the talking here, and what better hop combo to do that with than Citra and Mosaic? These two hops are great on their own, but when put together they’re like Jordan and Pippen. Or better yet, Jordan and Jordan, because we can’t seem to put one in front of the other.
The polite hop burst is delightful, and after a few sips you’ll question the 9.1% ABV listing. Again, these are the Double IPA’s that a lot of breweries attempt, but few really connect on. Plus, many of them put out one or two on a taplist, Beer’d wasn’t that shy at all, in fact, if everything was still available when we arrived, there would’ve been a total of eight to sample. Considering all of this, and understanding that Dogs and Boats is the beer that really put Beer’d on the map, we gave it our Must Try award for the trip.
Weight of Sound was a dizzying display of complexities. Grapefruit, mango, and a slight malt profile combined with three different hops made this beer something to hunt for at your local watering holes. Even at 9.6% ABV we thought we were reaching our limit between juicy and boozy, but Weight of Sound still got it done. The super clean and dry finish made for a beer that could’ve easily been our favorite if it wasn’t for a special Aussie-inspired offering that took the crown at the last second.
Vegemite Sandwich isn’t just the food of choice from the Men at Work song, “Land Down Under” it’s also the Our Favorite award winner from Beer’d. Galaxy hops are paired with another Australian hop variety that we couldn’t even pronounce. We weren’t sure if we had never heard of the hop before, or if the tireless bar staff at Beer’d were just trying to keep this one under wraps.
There was a ton of tangerine on the nose and even more on the palate making this a juicy one. If the previous IIPA’s were smooth, consider Vegemite Sandwich moonwalking smooth, no, Sean Connery smooth, wait, as smooth as a marble on a waveless sea. Yeah there we go. Seriously though, similes aside, whenever you can dive into a beer with this much flavor and pair that with a gorging alcohol percentage (9.5%) it’s hard to compete.
If you haven’t had the chance to enjoy Beer’d at your local bar, then you need to make the trip to Stonington. The atmosphere is bubbly, the beer is fantastic, and their reputation amongst beer lovers around here is tops. Come on down and get a growler fill, a free sample, or even cans of Hobbit Juice, another Double IPA that’s sure to please. However you plan on spending your time here, you’ll be glad you did.