The founders of Epicure Brewing in Norwich hail from Griswold, Canterbury, and Brooklyn. Jason and Jennifer Vincent, Robert and Jobina Miller, and Ken and Kerrie Thiffeault all began thinking about the craft beer industry in 2011. Like most brewery owners, the talks were borderline hypothetical at first, but over time continued to germinate in the brains of all, and soon enough became reality. While it all seems swift and pretty to the public eye, the work and patience required to open a brewery is almost superhuman.
Ken Thiffeault is the Head Brewer at Epicure while the others have opted to keep their respective “day jobs” as Epicure begins its first quarter in the CT craft beer circuit. Norwich was a great choice for Epicure because of low rent cost, the historic feel of downtown (the brewery is in the old Norwich Bulletin building) and its proximity to These Guys Brewing, a brewpub located a hops throw down the street, ended up being a nice bonus.
Most business owners would sour at the idea of a competitor moving in next door, Epicure embraced it. There’s no surprise to the way this state enjoys craft beer, most of the consumers are interested in destination towns. Connecticut breweries are found via highway routes, lengthy ones at that, so driving over an hour for just one brewery just doesn’t cut it for most weekend warriors. Therefore, having These Guys down the street and Fox Farm, Beer’d, and Outer Light all within 25 minutes is a luxury for the Norwich microbrewery.
The Epicure logo hangs right outside the taproom in what looks to be just another building in downtown Norwich, but inside is an industrial, but sleek taproom. The brewhouse is seen clearly from all angles of the taproom which is a great touch for those interested in getting a closer look. The bar is large enough to seat a healthy crowd of patrons, and if there aren’t any seats there is ample space at high tops and tables scattered about.
Epicure opened with six beers for tasting which is more than we’ve seen most breweries open with ranging from a Blonde Ale to a West Coast Red.
Stay Pretty is a Blonde Ale that blends smooth drinkability with a touch of earthy hop tones. Blonde Ales are perfect for those just getting into the craft beer loop and don’t want to be hit over the head with hops, punched in the face with a Barleywine, or swimming in a rich Imperial Stout. If you’re traveling with a weary craft beer newbie, Stay Pretty is the perfect choice for them.
Two-and-1/2 Ashely’s is an Amber Ale that comes in at 5.3% ABV and is dripping in dark fruit flavors. Cherries, Plums, and toasted bready malt creates a balanced array of essence that walks the line between traditional and modern. This might not be your fathers Amber Ale, but I’ll guarantee he’ll like this remix on a classic style. For its resistance from the ordinary, we gave the zany Amber the Must Try distinction.
NVC is an IPA that features a soft, fruity nose, that gives way to a palate that is plentiful with resin and pine flavors. Horizon, Centennial, Simcoe, and Amarillo all play a role in creating Epicure’s house IPA that actually stands for “Not Very Creative”.
While working through the brew schedule, the name “Hoppiness IPA” appeared as the batch headed for fermenter #3, when asked if this was the actual beer name, Thiffeault replied, “Well that’s not a very creative beer name,” and thus NVC was born. Contrary to the name, NVC is quite creative with a crossover of flavors and aromas that will only get stronger as Ken and Co. hone in on more batches.
Bearded Baby is a Pale Ale that blends biscuit flavored malt sweetness, slight hop bitterness, and aromas of orange and mangoes for an absolute summer classic, add in its sessionable 5.3% ABV tag and it’s a wrap.
Lightning Struck Twice is an Oatmeal Stout that wasn’t too heavy on the palate but carried a solid amount of sweetness. Some stout drinkers might shy away from the oatmeal touch while others will be drawn to it. Make no mistake, this isn’t a thin bodied stout by any means, LST certainly throws its weight around and we have no complaints about that.
Wred West Coast is a Red Ale that stood out the most out of all the beers we sampled. Red Ales aren’t usually our thing, but it never keeps us from sampling them. What we love about Wred is its versatility and creativity. Much like Two-and-1/2 Ashley’s, Wred takes a style that most people glance over, and decided to do something bold.
Resinous hops, an ABV almost breaking the 7% threshold, and sourdough malt character, Wred is anything but ordinary. For its lack of heed to established rules and style regulations, Wred earned the Our Favorite distinction.
Epicure is located on 40 Franklin Street, Norwich, CT
Hours: Th 5-9PM, Fri 2-9PM, Sat 11AM-9PM, Sun 11AM-6PM