Mike and Cory started brewing beer in 2010 as a small hobby. But it didn’t take long for the bug to bite, causing their love of homebrewing to swell from small hobby to absolute obsession. Several successful homebrew competitions and constant buzz from friends and family eventually pushed the two friends into a conundrum most homebrewers dream of, “can we really do this?”
Located in the tight knit town of Danielson, Mike and Cory decided to create Black Pond Brews. Named after a pond in Woodstock, CT where they shared many memorable times, Black Pond now serves samples and growler fills out of what could be Connecticut’s coziest taproom.
Aiming to create beer that focuses on the future rather than the past, and bring people to the classic New England town of Danielson, we visited the brewery on Furnace Street and immediately felt right at home. Mike was nice enough to answer any questions regarding the process, ingredients, new bottle releases (more on this later), and where he gets his local honey from. It was apparent from the start that he is someone who truly enjoys what he does and wants others to share in his passion for creation.
A crisp, easy-drinking selection makes this one a go-to for someone just getting into the craft beer scene, or maybe that friend of yours that is just too stubborn to get off the big beer train. Brewed with caramel, honey, and biscuit malts to add to its complexity, CT Uncommon is just that.
Israel Putnam is a Brown Ale named after the legendary Revolutionary War Hero of the same name. Putnam lived in Brooklyn, CT where the Black Pond masterminds hail from, so they knew they had to pay homage to the man who gave us the line, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” English barley and wheat malts make up the skeleton while caramel and chocolate malts bring out deep complexities in each sip. Cluster hops, the first variety to be grown and used in beer in the US along with Fuggle hops make up the bitterness profile. The end result is an incredibly balanced Brown Ale bursting with big malt flavors and aromas. If Putnam were alive today, this beer might change his phrase to, “Don’t stop until you see the bottom of the glass.”
High and Dry, a Double Red IPA was a strong standout at Black Pond. The big player at work here is the local honey they use to really round out the finish. Most Imperial style beers can be bitter, and for those drinkers who would rather sip on something a little less intense might be skittish when it comes to a beer like High and Dry. Although the front end of this beer is intense and hop forward, the middle and end quickly bring it back down to a balanced level. What your left with is a smooth finish with hints of sweet honey. Weighing in at 7.6% ABV, this one a force to be reckoned with.
Razor Blades, a Double IPA with over nine varieties of hops was next on the list. When I asked Mike to rattle off the hops for me, he quickly scanned his brain and started naming some delicious varieties, when he was done, so was I. Tipping the scales at 8.3% ABV and a palate slashing 100 IBU’s, Razor Blades is one for the hop heads. Nothing gets me more excited than a beer that masks its alcohol content with amazing hop flavors and Razor Blades did just that. Massive notes of pine, grapefruit, and citrus load up the palate and nose from start to finish. Executing a Double IPA to perfection and seeing as I put this one down in record time, it seemed obvious for Razor Blades to be the Our Favorite recipient.
Black Pond recently released Hearsay, a Sour Ale aged with local green apples and their very own blend of wild bacteria and yeast a few weeks ago. Lucky for us, we happened to visit the brewery on the day of the bottle release. Not one to refuse a “try before you buy” type customer such as myself, Mike happily cracked open a bottle from the stack of boxes and poured us a sample. The gesture was one thing, but the beer was what propelled me to pick up a few bottles for my fridge at home. Say what you want about sour beers, but I firmly believe that the more you try them, the more you will like them.
Personally, I like a sour beer to be upfront and give my tongue that punch, which Hearsay delivers. But just as quick as it comes, in an instant, the tartness is subdued into a champagne dryness. Needless to say, Hearsay picked up the Must Try distinction, and we definitely encourage you to pick up a bottle at the brewery and taste for yourself.
What I love most about Connecticut beer, and all craft beer for that matter, is the diversity. You can go into a juggernaut like Two Roads and crane your neck to see the tops of fermenters as they tower over you. At the same time, you can walk into Black Pond Brews and be equally blown away by the creativity and boldness of a few guys who love what they do. With no signs of slowing down and an impressive lineup of beers thus far, Black Pond shines bright and puts Danielson on the map.
*It should be noted that Cory wasn’t present during our tour, but we would expect the same level of hospitality if he had been!
We started off with CT Uncommon Lager, a Lager that is fermented between ale and lager temperatures and hopped with Northern Brewer and Hallertau hops. As the story goes, while traveling down south, Mike and Cory found themselves talking to a local in Tennessee regarding his accent. When asked where the two were from, they replied, “Connecticut,” to which the man quipped, “Connecticut? Where in the hell is that?” Stifled by such foolishness, they both scrambled for an answer. Now, having spent some time away from the situation, Cory and Mike wish they could’ve slid the man an ice-cold CT Uncommon and let the beer do the talking.