Connecticut: We’re full of surprises


Just four days after Georgia, in January 1788, Connecticut ratified the Constitution,  becoming the 5th state in the Union and week five of our adventure.

When I was first drafting the idea of this year long project, I envisioned it as a travel story in reverse. I would be visiting each state of the union through the beer brewed from that state, and thinking about how that beer travelled to me. Of course there was some, and probably will be physical travel, but in the end, the beer will be doing the majority of the travel, not me. Travel is synonymous with adventure. When people talk about travel, they often focus on the adventure of the trip, the challenges and risks they experienced, and overcame. In that respect, this blog, so far, has been an adventure. I have experienced flavors and styles of beer beyond anything previously consumed — and lived to talk about it. I had put on my explorer hat, and surf the web for places to purchase beer. And perused the shelves at stores, longingly looking for that one beer from a needed state. And so far, it has been educational, and more importantly fun. Lets hope the adventure continues.

Another component associated with adventure is mythologies and legends. There are many ancient legends of travel and adventure, from Odysseus to Ishmael. Beer is not exempt from the world of mythology. With myths such as the Finnish epic Kalevala devoting more lines to the origin of beer and brewing than to the origin of mankind, and the mythical Flemish king Gambrinus who is sometimes credited with inventing beer, one doesn’t have to look far to find mythology in beer.

And that brings us to this weeks tasting, and the legend of the Sea Hag.

This week, we will sample beer form two different Connecticut breweries. Early in the project, I was exchanging messages with a friend and he told me about a beer from Connecticut that I must include in my tasting. And it just so happened, he was going to be driving to Massachusetts from Connecticut and we could meet up for an exchange. When we met, he brought along two different IPAs from Connecticut, one from New England Brewing and another from Two Roads Brewing. Given that Connecticut is just one border away, I wanted to round out the selection with maybe something from Thomas Hooker, so I headed over to the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, and to my surprise, they did not have anything at all from the state of Connecticut. This came as a shock to me. I assumed the western states would be hard to acquire during this project, but I never thought I would have an issue getting beer from our neighbor. So, thanks to Matt S., Connecticut was saved and the project lives for another week.

In the late 1700′s or early 1800′s, a traveler and charlatan named Robert Henway came to New Haven in search of his latest business exploit. While there, he married a young beautiful local named Molly. As Henway’s business prospects soured, he abandoned Molly and boarded a ship to a distant location. Molly, impassioned by her love (and possibly fury) for Henway, stowed away on the ship in pursuit of her husband. During the voyage, Molly mysteriously disappeared. Her spirit returned to New Haven to haunt the port city.

New England Brewing – Sea Hag IPA

Connecticut Craft Beer

New England Brewing – Sea Hag IPA

The first beer of the night is an IPA from New England Brewing, located in South Norwalk. In operation since 1989, New England Brewing produces three different types of beer, an Amber, a Lager and an IPA. For this week, we are tasting their Sea Hag IPA. This beer is named after the legend of the Sea Hag, and old Connecticut sea myth.

During my research for this post, I was looking for some more information about the Sea Hag myth, another beer mythology link was worth investigating. I found this blog, where the quote above is from, but that was the only info I could find. There wasn’t even a wikipedia page, and that set off an alarm bell. A few more creative wikipedia searches turned up a deleted page about the Sea Hag, and in the comments section, I found a link to this story from CNN which goes on to explain how that Sea Hag myth was started as a guerrilla marketing campaign by New England Brewing to market their new IPA. Now considered one of their best selling beers, the myth generation apparently worked.

As far as taste, this beer generated many comments. Overall, it was a well received beer. For an IPA, it was much lighter in color than what I would typically expect, but it had a nice mild hoppy taste. “A decent IPA, one I would be happy to drink again.”

Two Roads Brewing – Double IPA

Connecticut Craft Beer

Two Roads Brewing – Road 2 Ruin

The next beer in the selection was a double IPA from Two Roads Brewing in Stratford called Road to Ruin. This IPA was a bit darker than the Sea Hag, and also had a bit more hops kick. The smell was a nice citrus smell. I enjoyed this beer, but when drank with the Sea Hag, they both blended together into a non distinct flavor. Everyone in the drinking party enjoyed this beer, but nobody was completely floored.

In the end, I enjoyed both beers from Connecticut. They were drinkable and enjoyable. I could easily revisit either beer at anytime. However I was surprised at how hard it was to come across beer from Connecticut when we are border states.

Next week, bringing it local for Massachusetts.

Thanks for reading.