New England Brewing Company
A semi-impromptu visit to Connecticut led me to search BeerAdvocate to see what the top rated beers were. To my surprise, this one brewery scored 9 out of the top 10 beers on that list. This definitely became the muse and centerpiece of my trip up north for a day.
New England Brewing Co is a nice little brewery in Woodbridge, CT. The tasting room is indeed small, but the point isn't really to hang out for an extended period of time. Being a visitor of most of New Jersey's taprooms, I was taken back by the fact that the main goal seemed to be for you to get your growlers filled, have a beer or two and move on. Now, I'm not complaining, it's actually a nice change of pace for me.
But since I didn't know any of the beer but was 100% set on getting at least ONE growler, I embarked on a journey to try everything at least once. The growler station and the tasting station are separate which maximizes the efficiency of each and minimizes the mess of having people stand in one line for two different things. I was amused at the fact that you can have up to 4 samples for free. Yep, $0 with 0 cents. GRATIS, as we say in Spanish. I knew I could get their Sea Hag, 668, and G-Bot in cans at liquor stores nearby (Thanks once again BeerAdvocate forums)... so I had to settle between Supernaut (Mosaic dry-hopped IPA) and the Coffee Breath (Coffee/Milk sweet stout) and although both were EXCELLENT, I went with the Coffee Breath to take home.
Either one is a winner to me and I actually liked those both more than their other offerings, but that is like comparing a 10 to a 9. If you love Belgian style beers, you'll definitely dig the 668. Sea Hag and G-Bot (formerly Ghandi-Bot) are not just solid entries into the IPA and DIPA categories, they are mainstays and definite winners. When almost 2/3rds of your beers are scoring over 4.0 on BeerAdvocate, you know this is a brewery that is an absolute must visit. I didn't even know it at the time, but if I had a brewery bucket list, this would have been on it, no questions asked.
The look of the place is well put together, I loved the barrels you could lay your drinks on while you wait for your growler to be filled. The beer is top notch and to me seems to be the epitome of Connecticut beer. I'm sure that there are many others that are great or could even achieve this quality of depth whether it's an IPA, a coffee stout, or a wild ale, but I'm sure NEBCO is the gold standard of excellence for this wonderful state.
If you ever plan on visiting Connecticut and you are definitely into the craft beer scene, you owe it to yourself to give the New England Brewing Co a try.
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Cheers! - beertoro