New breweries are the most exciting aspect when it comes to covering local beer. Seeing a new name pop up in social circles, stopping in to see how progress is going, and then one day, holding a pint of beer in your hand is a very cool feeling. Even though you didn’t spend a bead of sweat putting the whole thing together, you can’t help but feel somewhat attached. That’s how we felt when we attended the grand opening of New Park Brewing in West Hartford this past Saturday.
The rain couldn’t dampen the parade on New Park Avenue in West Hartford. The line to get into the brewery stretched out the door and well into the parking lot. Two food trucks, Yardbird and Co. along with Mercado kept the masses happy while waiting for beer, and filled more than a few bellies after the beer was enjoyed.
We nabbed a spot in line and patiently waited as we crept forward. Eventually, the time came for us to order our first round. We were lucky enough to try a little bit of everything upon our visit but it should be noted that we will give New Park the official ABG treatment when flights/tasters become available. For the grand opening, 12/16oz. pours were offered, as well as 1L swing-top growler fills to go in order to keep up with the ravenous crowd.
Hopiary, an American Double IPA instantly became a favorite right away. It seemed like everyone was drinking it, and according to New Park’s social media, they’re brewing it again already since they only have two kegs left! I’d say that’s a sign of a pretty damn good beer. Hopiary jumps out of the glass with notes of fruit and pine, the palate comes off a bit sweet at first thanks to the addition of wildflower honey. Brewed with oats for a soft mouthfeel and a balanced malt character, this beer was checking off all the boxes. A tad hazy in appearance thanks to the oats and weighing in at 8% ABV, Hopiary was a winner and deserves a growler fill when you visit this Friday.
Foliation, an American Pale Ale provided the perfect go-to beer for the craft beer novice. Foliation was every bit approachable as it was ambitious. People who shy away from palate searing hop bitterness will be pleased with the restrained use of bittering hops here. Brewed with Vienna malt and a blend of American and New Zealand hops for a burst of tangerine citrus, Foliation was a sessionable beer with some nice complexities.
Carbon, an Oatmeal Porter was a nice change of pace in a lineup full of hoppy ales. With a dreary day outside, my instincts told me to go straight for a pint of the darkest beer on the taplist. Given its unrivaled company, Carbon was a staple in the hands of many guests that afternoon. Brewed with flaked oats, munich, caramel, and roasted malts, Carbon comes in strong with notes of coffee and dark chocolate. While this isn’t the most complex Porter out there, and we’d be in favor of just a bit more body, Carbon certainly stood its ground amongst its competitors.
Finally, we enjoyed Cloudbreak, an American IPA that has people talking well after opening day. An IPA is a must have for every brewery opening. If your plan is to showcase craft ales, then nailing an American IPA (or Double IPA) is necessary to keep people coming back. With Cloudbreak, New Park leaves no doubt that we will be returning. Clocking in at 6.5% ABV, Cloudbreak is covered from head to toe in ruby red grapefruit and melon. While the hop presence isn’t abrasive, it certainly sets the tone right away with a strong nose of tropical citrus, laying the groundwork for the subtle notes to present themselves on the palate. In the glass, Cloudbreak pours a hazy orange color which is enough for half the craft beer population to order another pint before finishing their first. Looks can go a long way, but I’m glad this IPA offers more than just appearance. With enough hop juice to go around, and somewhat crushable at 6.5%, Cloudbreak is an absolute growler fill contender.
The response to New Park has been out of control. They will be open this Friday (March 31st) from 4-10pm, but then will take some time off to brew some more beer. New Park aims to reopen on April 14th with a few new offerings and have set schedule in place from there on out. Friday will continue with 4-10pm, Saturday 12-10pm, and Sunday 12-5pm. Check in on New Park’s Facebook or Instagram page for all updates.