If I were to tell you that there was an award winning brewery right around the corner from you, would you believe me? Not just any award either, this is an impressive one. The 2016 CT Blind Beer Awards crowned the Rakautra India Wheat Ale, an IPA/wheat crossover, with the People’s Choice Award. It competed against 12 other beers from around the state in a blind tasting and came out on top. Now you can have it from the source. Have I ever let you down before? Don’t answer that. But honestly, right in Bloomfield, Back East Brewery proudly pumps out some serious suds.
Started by a pair of cousins, Back East got its name from Edward Fabrycki Jr’s idea to move “back east” from San Diego with aspirations to open a craft brewery. Tony Karlowicz, the other half of this operation, found his love for craft beer while spending his college years in Vermont. From opposite ends of the country, to a quaint microbrewery in Bloomfield, Back East has come a long way.
The brewery itself has gone under some major renovations, now being able to serve patrons while they enjoy seating areas, samples, and extra-large connect four. If you’re the daring type, you can purchase a tasting glass for a small price and sample every beer on tap (a whopping 14 when we visited). And considering ourselves classified under “daring” we did just that. We won’t go into every detail about each beer sampled, instead, consider these the highlights.
The Intergalactic Lupulinary IPA is a refreshing, juicy, flavorful selection. Brewed with Galaxy hops from New Zealand and a lighter malt base to pair, this beer is all about the flavor. Notes of citrus, passion fruit, and even some pineapple shine through. It finished clean with a 5.5% ABV making this an IPA that can cater to the hop heads and timid beginners alike.
Enthusiast is defined as “a person who is highly interested a particularly activity or subject.” So if you’re not the risk taking type, or your someone who’s favorite beer brand might rhyme with “Mud Night”, you might want to do a quick gut check before reading any further. Back East’s Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse is a light-bodied wheat ale that has an unmistakable cherry tart flavor. By unmistakable I mean this thing really packs a sour punch. Certainly not for everyone, but most certainly for the ambitious drinker. If you’re lucky enough to find it on tap at a bar, don’t be alarmed when the bartender warns you, “Are you sure? It’s really sour.” Nod confidently, and take down our Must Try beer of the day.
Back onto the classic side of things, the Summer Ale is something that could be offered year round if the name allowed. Light in color, slightly cloudy, and a casual 6% ABV, the gorgeous aroma thanks to dry-hopped Citra, Galaxy, and Simcoe make this beer a keeper, and one to enjoy from now until late August.
As mentioned before, we did get the chance to sample the award-winning Rakautra India Wheat Ale. Brewed with Citra and Rakautra hops, the hazy, juicy crossover earned itself the Our Favorite distinction. Packed with flavor, a beauty to look at, and filled with peach aromas, the Rakautra certainly deserves all the praise it has been receiving. Be on the lookout for cans available only at the brewery as well as growler fills.
Rounding out the day were two selections on the heavier side of the tap list. The Imperial Stout is a 10.5% ABV beast to say the least. Generously brewed with a ton of English hops and featuring a dark malt profile, this stout was one that is rivaled by few, though imitated by many. Last but certainly not least was the Palate Mallet, an Imperial IPA weighing in at 8.6% ABV. Four types of hops go into making this DIPA with the intent of whacking your palate with hoppy goodness. Sharp, bright, and citrusy, this Imperial IPA was a pleasure to have.
Back East does a whole lot of things right. When it comes to selection, very few breweries can match its production. While keeping up production, some breweries find it hard to maintain quality, but Back East continues to find a great balance of the two. Make sure to pick up a six pack of any Back East beer and enjoy one of Connecticut’s finest breweries.