If there’s one town in Connecticut that’s seriously upping their beer game over the past year, it’s Middletown. Not only are there two breweries supplying the Forest City with fresh craft beer, but Main Street is now a hotspot for thirsty night owls searching for the next place to grab a cold one. Eli Cannons, Crust, and La Boca are just a few standouts among a crowded bunch all crammed into less than a mile of foot traffic. But just a bit off the beaten path, Forest City Brewing Company proves to be one of the best-hidden gems of all.
Located in the same building as Stubborn Beauty, Forest City lives just down the hall in a comfortably quaint taproom. Large circular tables rest on barrels, plenty of standing room, and some amazing artwork makes up the ambiance. But it’s all about what’s behind the bar for us.
Forest City is a family affair. Owner and Brewmaster Chris Coughlin owes a lot of the company’s early success to his parents, Donald and Anne-Marie, as well as his brother Dan. Their constant support in and out of the brewhouse have made Forest City what it is today. Chris opened the doors for a soft opening in April of 2016 and later had the grand opening on June 23rd, 2016. Since then, the response has been great and there aren’t any signs of it slowing down.
Next up was American-English IPA, an IPA blending American hops and English malts. When you think of English IPA’s, or English beers in general, you normally think of dark, malty, and rich beers. The English malts certainly have flavor, but English hops lack the citrus punch that we like over here on American soil. So combining the flavors of English malt and utilizing the upfront flavors and aromas of Simcoe hops, Chris and crew came up with another match made in heaven. The American-English IPA does a phenomenal job of isolating what makes each side so great. This beer isn’t a mouthful of hops, nor is it a malt bomb, it sails just in between making for a full-bodied IPA. We’re big fans of ambitious ideas, but bigger fans of execution when it comes to those ideas, and for that reason, American-English IPA wins the Our Favorite honor
Sweet Belgian Stout was next on the list. This Stout is brewed with Belgian candi sugar, normally used in heavier Belgian selections (dubbels and tripels) but instead of playing it safe, Forest City decides to live dangerously, and we’re glad they did. We must say, some people might think this Stout is a little too sweet, but for those trying something new, and who are already a fan of the style might appreciate the shift in taste. The mouthfeel was still rich and moderately carbonated, but the natural chocolate, coffee, and biscuit malt flavors were subtle, if there at all. Instead, notes of caramel, molasses, and even a little honey was present.
Forest City’s Stargazer IPA might be the calling card for the brewery. So when we walked in, eager to try one of the area’s best IPA’s we were a little disheartened to see the name being wiped off the tap list. Had we been there just ten minutes earlier there would’ve been a chance (curse you CT-9 traffic!) but luckily, there was something taking its place.
If you’ve ever been to a brewery when a new beer goes on the board, it’s a pretty magical time. Everyone stops what they’re doing and puts 100% focus on the person in charge of writing the name of the new kid on the list. We sat along with everyone else, wide eyed and anxious to see what was on its way to the tap lines.
Wild Time Pale Ale was the newest selection, described as a Pale Ale with wild yeast and Mosaic hops. The nose was all Mosaic; tropical, fruity, juicy, and just waiting to be tasted while the body was smooth throughout with the malt adding just a touch of biscuit. Plenty of pine, citrus, and clementine flavor to go around, while the wild yeast brings out the fruitier character toward the end. At 6.5% ABV, this Pale Ale can hang with the rest, proving to be a worthy go-to when Stargazer is kicked, if not a soon-to-be rival when it isn’t. For the way it brings out a single hop, incorporates wild yeast, and jumps out of the glass with flavor, Wild Time earned the Must Try nod.
Next time you’re in Middletown, don’t forget about the little brewery hiding right under your nose. Just under four months into the game, they’ve already managed to land a fantastic IPA and a Pale Ale to match. Whether you grab a pint on Main Street, or sample directly from the taproom, Forest City is a small brewery making big noise in Middletown.
We were able to sample four different Forest City offerings when we visited. We started things off with the Ginger Saison, a Saison style beer with fresh ginger root. The pairing of ginger root and Saison’s seems to be the newest compatible pairing in the brewing world. For good reason too, the Ginger Saison was sharp, refreshing, and clean as a whistle. What starts like just your regular run of the mill Saison, quickly shifts into something wonderful. The ginger root does just enough to subtly nestle itself right in the heart of the palate, while the Saison yeast creates a masterful finish.