NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- You know the big names in the beer business -- Budweiser, Coors, Miller -- but are you familiar with Hooker, Cottrell or WilliBrew? They're some of the businesses brewing beer in Connecticut, and you can see how they do it.
Connecticut's breweries don't produce nearly the amount of beer that the big boys do, but ask any of the brewmasters and they'll tell you what they lack in quantity they more than make up with in terms of aroma and flavor.
First brewed in Norwalk back in 1989, New England Brewing has been cooking up flavorful beers, like their Elm City Lager, in Woodbridge for more than a decade. Curious about how they do it? As they say on their web site, "we welcome visitors at any time, so please stop by for a tour." Out of courtesy, you may want to give 'em a call first, of course.
Also ready to welcome you with open arms is Thomas Hooker Brewing Company in Bloomfield. Named for the founder of Hartford, Rev. Thomas Hooker, they produce eight varieties year 'round, as well as four seasonal brews (The WTNH Webguy is particularly fond of the Chocolate Truffle Stout). They have an open house on Friday nights and beer tastings on Saturdays, so there are many opportunities to taste what they make.
Back in 2009, News 8 paid a visit to Cottrell Brewing Co. in Pawcatuck, which had just released its Mystic Bridge IPA. They've been producing their beer since 1997. Click on the link marked 'Tours' to find out how you can purchase what they call "the freshest beer in the area."
Right in Downtown Hartford you'll find the City Steam Brewery Cafe. Also launched in 1997, they not only produce beer on premises, they make bread, serve up lunch, dinner, and laughs at the Brew HA HA comedy club. http://citysteambrewerycafe.com/
Proving you don't have to be in a big city to be a big deal, the Willimantic Brewing Company has been racking up accolades for their brew pub. Not only do they sell their own beer, they also have on tap other beers from small breweries across the Northeast.
Along the shoreline, SBC Restaurant and Brewery has been a popular destination for more than a decade. From Plisner's to stouts, there's plenty of variety to sample. Their website also explains the steps of how beer is made.
If you want to hook up with other Connecticut beer lovers, one site to visit is ctbeertrail.net . You can meet up with other beer fans and learn a bit more about Connecticut craft brews.
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