Brian Cox and Joe Ploof met one another in Sacramento, CA during the summer of 2012 at graduation week for the American Brewers Guild. Their personalities and obvious interest in beer linked the two from the start. However, after graduation week they both chose different paths and moved to Louisville and Massachusetts, respectively. Only one year later, the two decided to re-connect and pursue their dream of opening up a brewery in Connecticut.
Scott Stauffer, an insurance careerist, entered the picture when he heard that Brian and Joe had a plan to bring local craft beer to Connecticut’s capital. Coming to find that Cox and Ploof’s ideas had some legitimate legs, Hanging Hills Brewing Company was founded just two years later.
On a sticky Thursday afternoon, weaving through downtown Hartford and ending up at Hanging Hills, I was surprised to see such a population already amassed at the bar. Seeing as how they only opened a few weeks prior, the word of mouth must be getting around rather quickly, and after a few samples, we could see why.
The taproom is spacious but comfortable. Several wooden tables stand freely in the middle of the taproom floor, while plenty of standing room is available along the sides. The large hand-made bar wraps around the serving station, and could easily accommodate 15-20 thirsty patrons. We opted for a seat at one of the tables and got right to business.
We started with the House Mild, an English Mild Ale that boasts a rich malty flavor without feeling too overpowering, plus at 4.9%, it’s a beer that can be enjoyed time and time again. The Wheelhound Weisse is pure summer. Not to be confused with the Berliner Weisse style which carries a sour flavor, this American Wheat Beer showcases hints of grapefruit coupled with a wonderful dry finish for a comfortable seasonal that’s sure to please.
Next on the flight was the Garner Well Hopped Stout, a Stout that clocks in at 8.3% and bleeds dark chocolate. For a big beer, the Garner WHS wasn’t something that totally felt like you were earning that hefty alcohol percentage price tag. Oh, and the guys at Hanging Hills weren’t joking about this beer being “well hopped” either. Most stouts feel a little empty on the hop end of the spectrum, especially on the nose, and usually let the malts and other flavorings take center stage. However, notes of pine can be recognized right off the bat. Even the pallet makes room for some American hops which made this Stout our Must Try recipient.
The YPA or Yellow Pale Ale, is a straight-forward Pale Ale brewed with Cascade, Equinox, and El Dorado hops, creating a cacophony of citrus flavors. Word on the street is that plans are in the works for the YPA to be available in cans. With summer running out, let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later. The IOPA, or India Oat Pale Ale, stays on the acronym train and puts a mysterious twist on the craft brewery staple that is the India Pale Ale. Inspired by West Coast IPA’s, the IOPA jumps out of the glass with its unmistakable deep orange color. Notes of pine and stone fruit are rampant throughout. But we’re not quite sure what puts the “Oat” in India Oat Pale Ale. Perhaps Hanging Hills is up to something secretive, or we simply forgot to ask, we’ll go with the latter.
Ferris, a Session IPA was the last sample on the flight, and you guessed it, we saved the best for last. Ferris was like drinking a delectable elixir, packed with citrus, pine, and a subtle malt bill that really let the hops do the heavy lifting. Most of the time, Session IPA’s lack something. Whether it be flavor or character, but this isn’t nearly the case for Ferris. We drained the last few drops out of our glasses and felt the joy of finding a new favorite on our tongues. Not only is Ferris the Our Favorite for Hanging Hills, but Ferris might as well be our favorite Session IPA in Connecticut right now.
So stop by the convenient Ledyard Street location and grab a few samples of Connecticut’s newest brewery. Hanging Hills offers darts, ample seating, and a really friendly brewery dog. It took Brian and Joe many years to turn this dream into a reality, so make sure to enjoy the fruits of their labor.