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Questing for new beers in America while on a family vacation to the Northeast

When traveling, I love searching out beers and breweries that are new to me, and whatever the locals are drinking is probably a pretty good choice.

The last couple of days I spent time with family in Norwich, Conn., where my brother-in-law picked up some of his local favorites. Grey Sail Brewing, located in Westerly, R.I., is a brewery that I am somewhat familiar with, having had some of their offerings, but Captain’s Daughter (imperial IPA, 8.5 percent ABV, 69 IBUs) was a delicious new beer to me. The flavor had lots of tropical and citrus hop flavors, but my favorite part is that the malt bill didn’t override the hop goodness.

Flight of beer at These Guys Brewing, Norwich, Conn.
Flight of beer at These Guys Brewing, Norwich, Conn.

The weather was beautiful and we spent a good deal of time around the pool enjoying both local beer and some Midwest goodies that I brought with me. Some of the treats that I brought included Shorts Freedom of ’78 (IPA, 6.9 ABV, 70 IBUs), Sun King Fistfull of Hops Green Can (IPA, 6.4 percent ABV, 75 IBUs), and of course lots of Bell’s Two Hearted (IPA, 7 percent ABV) and Oberon (American wheat, 5.8 percent ABV) all of which are now available in Michiana. Bell’s does not currently distribute to Connecticut and my Michigan transplant relatives always enjoy a taste of home.

Another beer new to me was Lord Hobo Brewing Boom Sauce (IPA, 8 percent ABV) from Woburn, Mass. According to my brother-in-law, this beer shows up about once a month and you pretty much have to be in the right place at the right time to pick it up. Lucky for me, he was in that right place and at the right time.

Sixteen taps feature house beers in addition to beer from Six Point, Maine Brewing Co. and Du Claw
Sixteen taps feature house beers in addition to beer from Six Point, Maine Brewing Co. and Du Claw

My favorite beer excursion, however, was our last evening. After a wonderful meal of lobster rolls, clam chowder, steamed clams and oysters on the half shell at Abbott’s, with outdoor seating right on the water, we headed back to Norwich to check out These Guys Brewing. They have been brewing their own beer for less than a year, and offer an incredibly respectable guest tap list as well.

We started off with a flight of the four TGB beers which included Against the Grain IPA (5.5 percent ABV), Beautiful Stranger Black IPA (8.14 percent ABV), Thames River Red Ale (6 percent ABV), and Jeanne’s Dream Apricot Wheat (5.6 percent ABV). The apricot wheat is a nod to head brewer Rebecca Alberts’ late grandmother, who had a particular fondness for this fruit. It’s brewed with real apricot puree and it pours a hazy gold with a real juicy aroma and flavor. Although this was a tasty beer, I was more partial to the IPAs and thought that both the Against the Grain and the Black IPA were delicious.

Had we come only a few hours earlier, I would have had the chance to enjoy one of my absolute favorite beers on tap: Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine (IPA, 8 percent ABV). It was here that I first learned that this beer was actually brewed by Lawson’s (located in Warren, Vt.) at Two Roads Brewing, which was right down the road in Connecticut, and is available in extremely limited quantities here, but only if you know when and where to find it.

A lucky find of Sixpoint Puff at a local Connecticut bottle shop.
A lucky find of Sixpoint Puff at a local Connecticut bottle shop.

The bartender, being knowledgeable and sympathetic to my lupulin-loving palate, suggested Sixpoint Puff (9.8 percent ABV, 108 IBUs) which had just replaced the Sip of Sunshine tap. It was every bit as good, with lots of floral and citrus hop flavor and aroma. And because I can’t turn down a barrel-aged beer of any kind, I also tried the Sixpoint Spilled Beans (whiskey-barrel-aged Baltic porter, 10.3 percent ABV). I do prefer bourbon-barrel-aged beers, but this had some nice coffee, chocolate and vanilla notes and had a brighter feel and taste than a bourbon-barrel-aged beer.

The atmosphere was nice, and with the beer selection and wonderful menu I will definitely look forward to enjoying their beer again next time I visit family in Norwich. But for now, it’s on to new vacation adventures and the continued search for new beer.

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