And even though it’s cold when you drink it, by some strange alchemy they warm you, in the same way that a hot tea in the heat of summer will cool you down.
In short, fall beers are magic. Now that the rush of summer is over, you don’t need to feel guilty spending a few hours enjoying your favorite autumn brews. Put these 5 Connecticut breweries at the top of your list of places to visit this fall.
Two Roads Brewing Company
Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford is a Connecticut favorite, and though it feels like it’s been around for a lot longer, it has actually only been in operation since 2012.
In addition to the 7 varieties of beer on tap year-round, Two Roads has a number of seasonal beers to usher in the chillier months, including Roadsmary’s Baby, a pumpkin ale aged in rum barrels; Route of All Evil, a heavy black ale; and the Ok2berfest Marzen, their take on the traditional Octoberfest beer.
They’re open 7 days a week, but do yourself a favor and stop by Friday-Sunday for a $5 brewery tour where you can learn all about the brewing process and what goes into making Two Roads’ beer some of the best in Connecticut. Just check the tour times before going to make sure you get a spot.
Thimble Island Brewing Company
Thimble Island Brewing Company in Branford was founded in 2010 and bills itself as Connecticut’s largest self-distributing micro-brewery.
The brewery has 15 beers on tap at all times, which change with the seasons. Among others, Thimble Island’s fall beers include 2 different pumpkin porters, the Blackfish black IPA, and an Oktoberfest beer that will be available soon. Every weekend they “un-cask” a new, limited quantity beer, which is only available on that particular weekend—and once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s their way of testing out new flavors and formulas.
The tasting room is open 7 days a week, and they offer a $5 tour of the brewery on Saturdays and Sundays.
New England Brewing Company
New England Brewing Company in Woodbridge is widely considered a craft-beer pioneer. It was listed as one of the top 20 breweries in the country by BeerAdvocate.com in 2009 and 2010.
The brewery is open Wednesday through Saturday, 3pm–7pm each day except for Saturday, when they’re open 11am–4pm.
For the fall, in addition to their other beers, they offer the extremely popular Ghost Pigeon Porter, a heavy brew with hints of coffee, and the Fat 10’er series of IPAs, among others. Their fans are voracious, and the seasonal beers tend to go quickly once they’re available, so I’d suggest you call ahead if you’re looking for a particular brew.
You can also check their Facebook page, where they list their daily tap lists, since their website is currently under construction.
Thomas Hooker Brewery
The Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield is the oldest Connecticut brewery on our list, and probably the best known. The brewery is named after the founder of Hartford, and they offer anywhere between 8 and 12 beers on tap at all times.
Their 2 fall beers are the Oktoberfest Lager and the Nor’easter Lager, a spiced amber ale. The brewery is open Monday through Saturday, and they have $5 tours every Saturday, but the key days to visit are the first and third Friday of each month: This is when they host their Open Houses, which cost $10 and includes a tour, tasting, and pint glass to take home. (When asked how many beers are included in the tasting, I was told that they really don’t limit it unless someone is being obnoxious, so feel free to try them all!)
Stony Creek Brewery
Stony Creek Brewery (also in Branford) started life in 2010 as a contract brewer that produced beer through the Thomas Hooker Brewery, but in 2015 they rebranded and opened the facility that today feels like it was always a part of Connecticut life.
In addition to 14 beers on tap, Stony Creek has one fall seasonal beer: Crum, an apple cinnamon oatmeal ale described as “drinking a slice of apple crumble”—what could be better?
The brewery is open every day of the week except for Monday, and they offer a $5 tour of the facilities on Saturdays and Sundays that comes with a free tasting of 2 different beers. The expansive property also features an outdoor deck and a waterfront area and game-pit for those that like to play while they imbibe.