An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Aug 22, 2014
12:48 PMThe Connecticut Table
7 Upcoming Connecticut Beer Fests You Don't Want to Miss
Beer is served at last year's Sun BrewFest. The festival will return to Mohegan Sun Saturday Oct. 4.
Author’s Note: We’ve just updated this story to include Connecticut Brewer's Fest, a festival that will feature Connecticut breweries exclusively and will take place at Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford on Oct. 6. The story below is written in chronological order. If you read the initial post, scroll to the second entry up from the bottom for the details on this exciting new addition to our beer festival listing.
Two weeks ago I wrote a story called “Six New Must-Try Connecticut Breweries.” It was the beginning of my exploration of the Connecticut craft beer scene. I was planning on writing monthly updates about the state’s burgeoning brewing industry, but when the story hit we found out Connecticut Magazine readers love beer as much as we do. As a result of the first story’s success we (myself and the editorial team) have decided not to wait two more weeks for a new beer story and to take a closer look at some of Connecticut’s upcoming beer festivals.
October is not too far away and it looks as if our state has embraced the modern version of the German Oktoberfest—the craft beer festival. Throughout September and into October there are a variety of large beer festivals in the state. For enthusiasts of Connecticut craft beer, these festivals are a wonderful way to explore the scene. As Lori Shield, marketing director at Ski Sundown, says, festivals are “a great way for many Connecticut brewers to come to you." (Ski Sundown will host a big brewing festival on Sept. 20.)
Below are seven upcoming beer-themed events (think of it as a “brewer’s six pack,” the beer-world equivalent to a baker’s dozen). This list is not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive, and I’m sure I’ve missed some great September and October beer events. If you happen to notice any upcoming beer festivals not on this list please let us know and we’ll add them or write about them in the future.
Connecticut On Tap, Danbury
Saturday, Sept. 13, 3-6 p.m. $35 advance/$45 day of
Ives Concert Park will be transformed into a mecca of craft brewing. Guests at the festival, hosted by Townsquare Media, will have the chance to sample more than 120 different beers from breweries such as Connecticut’s City Steam and Two Roads, New York’s Brooklyn Brewery and Sixpoint Brewery, Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company, and many more. There’s also a VIP experience offered which will give guests access to the festival at 2 p.m., an hour before general admission starts, during that early hour they’ll be able to sample some exclusive rare beers.
Ski Sundown Brewers Fest, New Hartford
Saturday, Sept. 20, 4-8 p.m. Admission: $30 advance/$35 door
Guests will be able to admire early foliage while tasting samples from more than 35 micro breweries and brewpubs, from Connecticut and beyond, at the ninth Brewers Fest on the Mountain. The band Poor Gordon will provide musical entertainment, and Avon Prime Meats will make a selection of grilled foods, side dishes and snacks available for purchase.
“What most people find unique about our brew fest is that the brewers themselves are pouring the beer, so you’re meeting the people who have lovingly crafted what you’re sampling and can ask them questions,” says Shield. Another unique facet of the festival is that a portion of the proceeds go to the Connecticut Brewer’s Guild, which supports the state’s beer industry.
(Below: a video from the June installment of Brewers Fest)
Harbor Brew Fest, Bridgeport
Saturday, Sept. 20, 1-5 p.m. Admission: $40 advance/$50 at the door
At Connecticut Magazine two of our favorite things are breweries and food trucks (in the latter category we’ve recently been chronicling some of the state’s best) and at this festival they come together at the Ball Park at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Sip beers from dozens of breweries including Shebeen (a great brewery out of Wolcott that makes a cannoli beer) and Grey Sail (a relatively new, family-run brewery in Rhode Island that produces a great beverage). Then, choose from some of Connecticut’s best food trucks including LobsterCraft, The Local Meatball and Melt Mobile. All proceeds will benefit the Harbor Light Foundation, a Connecticut-based nonprofit that supports children with autism. Charity never tasted so good.
Smoke in the Valley Craft Beer and Chili Festival, Seymour
Saturday, Oct. 4, 12-4:30 p.m. Admission: $35, $40, $45
This mammoth beer festival will host more than 100 breweries, scores of chili teams and feature live music on two stages throughout the day. The price of admission gets you access to unlimited chili and beer. There will also be a home brewer’s contest. Participating breweries include Connecticut’s Southport Brewing Company, Charter Oak Brewery and Black Hog Brewery, as well as many other in-state breweries and dozens of out-of-state ones. Beer, chili and music, what more could you want?
Sun BrewFest, Mohegan Sun
Saturday and Sunday Oct. 4-5.
This weekend-long, beer-lover's getaway begins on Saturday. Guests can participate in one of two tasting sessions, the first runs from 1 to 4 p.m. and the second goes from 7 to 10 p.m. Each features more than 200 beers from local, regional and international breweries. Single day tickets are available for $25. Beer fanatics will also want to attend the Sunday BrewBrunch, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features an array of beer infused cocktails and brunch items made with recipes that utilize Goose Island Beer. For those who are brewed out, Absolut will also be serving up Bloody Marys. Admission to the brunch is $60 but there are combo weekend deals available including lodging packages.
Connecticut Brewer’s Fest, Stratford
Monday, Oct. 6, 6 to 9 p.m., $25
This beer festival will be held at one of Connecticut’s best-known breweries, Two Roads Company, and will feature exclusively Connecticut breweries (more than 20 of them). All proceeds will go to the Connecticut Brewers’ Guild, which supports craft brewing in the state. This will be a chance for beer lovers to visit Two Roads and explore the state’s craft beer trail in the process. Beer’d Brewing company, which was recently named Connecticut Magazine’s 2014 Best of Connecticut Best Beer will be participating in the event. A message on the brewery’s Facebook page stated “We don't often pour at beer fests, but when we do, we make sure it's gonna be awesome!” Only 250 tickets are available and the event is expected to sell out.
Saturday, Oct. 11 (Rain date: Oct. 12), 1 – 5 p.m. $25 in advance/$35 day of and $15 for “Wings Only” ticket
Carnivorous craft beer lovers will have chance to enjoy some of the best beer and best chicken wings around at the second annual Hoptoberfest beer and wing festival sponsored by the Derby-Shelton Rotary Club and taking place at the Shelton Riverwalk. The event kicked off last year, attracting a crowd of more than 700 people and raising close to $10,000, which the Rotary Club has since put back into the community. This year is expected to be even bigger. The festival will feature more than 80 craft beers and a chicken wing competition that will pit local restaurants and bars against one another. There will also be live music. On top of all that, at the end of the day you have to love a festival that’s slogan is “on a wing and a beer.”