For the last four years, Stratford has been dominated by one brewery, Connecticut juggernaut Two Roads. But on July 9th, 2016 Fairfield Craft Ales changed all that. Just on the outskirts of Two Roads’ shadow sits Fairfield Craft Ales, a small-batch brewery with a focus on music inspired offerings.
Joseph Bow and Mike Borruso met one another through Little League (Bow coached Borruso’s son) and before they knew it, they had one large item in common, the dream to open a brewery. With day jobs in Manhattan, the building out process for Fairfield Craft Ales began in 2014 and wrapped up this past summer.
The taproom is quaint and inviting. A polished bar top comfortably seats 6-10, while standing room and a few tables make up the rest of the space. Music is certainly important to the owners considering the logo is a guitar pick with an “F” emblazoned over it. Not only that, but each beer has its own clever name mounted onto a poster and hung along one of the walls of the taproom. Some record companies display gold and platinum records, these guys flaunt their stuff too, and for good reason.
We did our best Jagger up to the bar, saw those taps standing there, and got straight to it.
It’s been a while since we’ve dissected a flight on this website and boy did we miss it. Eight sampler glasses filled to the brim with every style of beer you can think of, we began with Brown Eyed Girl, a (you guessed it) Brown Ale made with locally grown hops. Personally, Brown Ales can be won and lost on mouthfeel alone; rich and syrupy usually leads to a pass, while smooth but lean win me over. It’s a fine line, but one that we thought Brown Eyed Girl danced along quite nicely. Essential flavors of coffee and dark chocolate were connecting on the palate without weighing too heavily on it, creating an extremely drinkable beer.
Next up was Dixie Chicken Honey BBQ Ale. Having visited over 35 Connecticut breweries, there seldom comes a time where my brother and I look at one another in confusion. Not in a negative way, but realizing we haven’t come across anything like this before, that’s what Dixie Chicken did for us.
The Pale Ale showcased a bold, but sweet BBQ flavor that made you feel as if you were biting into a chicken breast on your porch over 4th of July weekend. While we appreciated the transcendence, unfortunately it’s December and a BBQ style Pale Ale might seem out of place to some. But after trying it, you’ll be pressed not to go back for another sip of this summer time getaway in a glass. For its ability to translate an obscure take on the diverse Pale Ale category and absolutely nail it, we gave Dixie Chicken the Must Try distinction.
Hard to Handle, an Imperial Stout, was another standout from Fairfield Craft Ales. The 8.8% ABV offering was expected to pack a serious punch, and it did. Living up to its name, the boozy Stout was heavy handed on roasted barley and molasses, but it did however even the scales with its drinkability. Saying an Imperial Stout is “drinkable” can be a contradicting term I guess, considering you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into when you order one, but Hard to Handle can make a believer out of most doubters of the style. Maybe it can even remind the general public that Otis Redding gave this beer its namesake, not The Black Crows (c’mon man).
Turn! Turn! Turn! (w/ Herbs De Provence) was a Saison that happened to be the second installment of Bob Dylan's worthy series. Turn! (w/ Lime) was the original Saison that Fairfield rolled out to its audience upon opening, but when the response was as loud as it was, it seemed appropriate to put an ingredient twist on the original.
Blended with herbs originating in the Provence region of southeast France, the Saison underwent a savory change with flavors of rosemary, oregano, and thyme. Similar to the execution with the BBQ Ale, this Saison was unmistakable upon first sip. Aromas of spice, citrus fruit, and light floral hop character rise to the forefront, while the palate is dominated by thyme and rosemary. Out of the box ideas like this can divide crowds, but when you look at this offering with the thought of creativity and originality, it’s hard not to like. That’s why, for the first time in our website’s history, we’ve decided to dish out a second Must Try to Turn! (w/ Herbs De Provence).
Last but not least was the Our Favorite winner, Little Darlin’ IPA. This double dry-hopped Citra IPA hangs somewhere in between hazy and straight forward. Getting the most hop flavor per 16oz. seems to be the newest craze in craft beer, but Little Darlin’ makes sure to cement itself comfortably in the middle. Certainly enough Citra presence to hold over hop heads, while limiting the bitterness for those who aren’t quite IPA crazy just yet. We know one thing is for sure however, this would’ve made the Diamonds some very happy guys.
Make sure you get down to Stratford and check out Fairfield Craft Ales. Act now and use Groupon to get a killer deal on two flights and two 32oz. squealers at up to 46% off, a perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season for the beer lover in your family or drinking circle. While you’re there, be sure to get your hands on a pint of Little Darlin’ IPA and a squealer fill of Turn! Turn! Turn! on your way out. The Fairfield Craft Ales taproom is open Thursday-Friday 4-9PM, Saturday 1-9PM, and Sunday from 1-6PM.