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Connecticut’s Craft Beer Revolution

CT Style

WOLCOTT, Conn. (WTNH) — Whether you prefer an ale or a stout, nowadays, you don’t have to travel far to find your brew of choice. That’s because there are more than 4,000 breweries in the U.S., and the CT Beer Trail lists 33 breweries right here in the “Nutmeg State.”

Breweries are so popular that the average American now lives within 10 miles of one, and if you’re from Wolcott, you may have heard of Shebeen.

“It’s Irish or Gaelic for a speak easy or underground bar,” explained Shebeen Brewing’s Head Brewer Matthew Bellemare

At Shebeen, the beer is always flowing, and they offer some pretty unique flavors.

“At brewery cannoli is definitely one of our more popular beers,” said Ashley Blanchard, the director of sales and marketing at Shebeen.

“The cannoli beer is a spice ale,” explained Bellemare. “It has cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in it, and it’s particularly sweet.”

Served with powdered sugar on the rim and chocolate on top, the cannoli beer is almost more of a dessert than a drink.

“You kind of want to be a little messy,” Blanchard said. “I’ve had a powdered mustache more times than I can count from that thing but it’s delicious so why not?”

Also on the tap list at Shebeen Brewing — a pineapple wheat, made with real crushed pineapple, and “Java Pig,” brewed with coffee beans and bacon sourced from small businesses right here in Connecticut.

“We definitely want to give back to the community by supporting other local businesses,” Blanchard explained.

At Shebeen, a lot of hard work goes into making each beer. Step one: Mashing.

“This is malted, mill barley,” Bellemare said of the key ingredient used in the first step. “This is where the sugar that the yeast will eat in the beer comes from.”

Barley is soaked in hot water for about an hour to release its sugars. Once that’s done, the water is then drained and hops are added.

“Depending on when you put them into the boil, they either add bitterness or flavor and aroma to the beer,” Bellemare said.

After being boiled, the mixture is then run through this device to be chilled. Next, it’s put into this machine along with yeast, which ferments the mixture into beer Lastly, carbonation is added.

“So when I walk in the door to when I leave on a day of making beer is like eight to ten hours,” Bellemare said.

But for him, the hard work is definitely worth it. Bellemare says when it comes to beer, there’s good reason to go local.

“When you just buy a macro lager, you’re not getting a lot of flavor,” Bellemare explained. “It’s kind of made bland on purpose to appeal to everyone where smaller local breweries can make interesting flavors. Plus it’s feeding back into your local economy so you’re supporting someone who lives in the next town over.”

So the next time you go to grab a cold one, consider grabbing one made just around the corner.

For more information about Shebeen Brewing, visit

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