It is a great time to be an American ‘Craft Beer’ lover. We host over 3,400 breweries, micro-breweries & brew-pubs across the nation. As defined by the Brewer’s Association; Craft Beer is ,
Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.
And even here, in our small, but influential piece of the country. Connecticut has 27 breweries producing more than 72,000 barrels annually. The nation experienced a 20% increase in the number of ‘craft beer’ facilities from 2013-2014, as the number of openings vastly outmatches the number of closings. Such breweries as; New England Brewing ( Woodbridge) Back East ( Bloomfield ) Black Hog (Oxford ) Thimble Island ( Branford) leading the way in great local craft beer selections, which all can be found on a regular basis at the Tavern 1757.
Craft beer is subject to more snob ridicule & the masses submitting their two cents just as much as any wine has experienced as of late.
With that being said, we are all fortunate enough to now experience new tastes and adventures with beer and food pairings than ever before. Our Spotlight brewery today is Black Hog Brewing Co.
Established in Summer of 2014 , Brothers Tom & Jason Sobocinski with brewers, Tyler Jones & Justin Benvenuto have incorporated family and fun into their brand. Offering over 20 varieties ( some available all year and others seasonal), which range in a great selection from America’s favorite palate right now , The IPA, to Nitro Milk Stouts, Brown Ale’s, Summer Wheat, Hefeweizen, Pale Ale, Barleywine. At a tasting tour @ Black Hog ( Open 4 days a week for fills and tastings) , you can experience a truly wide selection of quality crafted beer. Such a variety makes the food pairing game easy, but extensive as you can bounce all around and make tons of different possibilities.
One of my favorites first came to our doorstep last Spring. Just when the Tavern 1757 was getting ready to open it’s doors, a salesmen came in with 2 samples of beer ( this happens daily but especially when you are a new facility). The gentleman was from Black Hog, his beer samples were naked bottles with masking top for a label as their brewery was set to shortly open as well . One of them read S.W.A.G. ( Short for Summer Wheat Ale brewed with Grapefruit peel), naturally I was intrigued to try something at such a young state. S.W.A.G. proved to be light and refreshing, perfect for the Summer months. Just a touch of lemon and grapefruit front making it slightly fruity & acidic. This beer dances so effortlessly with a garden- earth tone, such as a the Fried a Tomato Appetizer -pairing notes include ;
Organic grapefruit peel and it’s super smooth finish are a great way to start your culinary experience with SWAG. The tomato is simple at best , Panko crusted and fried to perfection . A smart cut from chef as the tomato holds it’s structure without being overwhelming . The goat cheese and balsamic glacé add just enough adventure without the complete commitment of Tart taste . Perfect summer combo , light refreshing , flavorful . Packed with lemondrop hops & sultry tomato bliss.
When selecting your own food and beer pairings, don’t be afraid to be bold . Not everything is set in stone . Sometimes you have a beer that runs parallel in taste to your dish ( as our tomato & wheat , or a granola brown ale with a flourless chocolate torte) other times your beer has to cut a strong flavor ( spicy in particular) , like a IPA with a Fra Diavolo dish. Lagers are a great choice as they pair further across the board than other varietals.
Like I said in my introduction, it is an exciting time to be an American Craft Beer lover. There is a fantastic selection across our great country and especially so here in Connecticut . Take a cruise on a nice Saturday afternoon and treat yourself to some tastings, perhaps do a little research to host your own little craft beer dinner with friends and family . Or stop on down to the Tavern 1757 where we always feature 16 beers on tap and we’ll do the cooking for ya! Till next time – Cheers! Joe