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Travel | Thomas Hooker Brewery

It feels like it’s been ages since I last did a “Snapshots” post.  This is mainly due the fact that I mostly hibernate from Christmas through mid-April because I don’t much care for the cold.  Hey, then why do you live in New England? Good question, my friends, good question.  Either way, on Saturday we ventured out to Thomas Hooker Brewery.  Now, if you happen to be a regular reader here on But First, Coffee you may know that I was sick this past weekend, and this is true.  But nothing stands between me and a chance to sample beer.
 
Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut

Thomas Hooker Brewery is in Wallingford, Connecticut, and for a meager $5 you can show up on a Saturday and not only get a tour but also a full tasting (which includes 10 samples that are about 3-4 oz. each.)  That, if you’re not too good at math, is about 3 full size beers, which also makes it one heck of a bargain.

When you first pull up you may question your location.  It doesn’t appear as if you’re pulling into a full scale brewery, but more like a bad office supply warehouse.  It’s OK, don’t turn back, you’ve made it.  Upon entering the door you’re basically smack dab in the middle of the brewery, which is small but efficient.  The greeter at the door slaps a red wrist band on you and tells you your tour number.  The band has 10 tabs, each good for one sample.   

Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut

We had some time to kill before our tour and figured we best lighten the load of our wrist bands so we sidled up to one of two bars.  The front bar had the most options offering beers such as “Watermelon Ale,” a classic IPA, an Irish Red, a Blonde Ale and a Chocolate Truffle Stout.  Call me old fashion but there are some things I don’t want in my beer and the following fit that bill: coffee, pumpkin and chocolate. Michael did end up having a sample of this Chocolate Truffle Stout and insisted I try it.  Living good on my promise to “try everything at least once,” I did give it a go and can tell you chocolate still remains on my “not in my beer” list.

Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut

All but one of us decided to start with the Watermelon Ale, which in theory sounded pretty gross and in application wasn’t bad. But then again, I can happily live the rest of my life without having again.  The brewery was full, but not overly packed to where you feel like you couldn’t find a place to stand and have your own space.  The whole ambiance of the place from the minute you walk in and are greeted through sampling and touring is wildly laid back.  The walls are painted in colorful graffiti and their additional “visitor’s room” – which hosted the second bar and was much larger – was furnished with every sofa you’ve ever seen outside a Salvation Army.

Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut
Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut

We sampled some more beers and waited for our tour to begin.  It was nice having a chance to drink some beers before jumping right into the tour, but finally our number was called and quickly grabbed another sample before shuffling over to brewery side of the building.

Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut
 
And it’s a good thing we did, too, because they wouldn’t have let us in without it.  Our tour guide, Ryan, appeared holding his own beer and I immediately knew this would be my sort of tour.   Let’s be honest, if you’ve been to one brewery tour, you know how beer is made.  If you happen to enjoy visiting small breweries like myself, then you really know how it’s made, so sometimes listening to a 25 minute talk about mash, yeast, temperature and fermentation is just about enough to make you want to take a quick snooze.  Luckily, this brewery is small, Ryan was entertaining and the tour was just the right length. 
Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut
 
Ryan briefly told us the history of the Thomas Hooker Brewery.  Thomas Hooker Brewery began about ten years ago as a branch of Trout Brook Brew Pub and has been growing ever since.  It got its name from the founder of Hartford, Rev. Thomas Hooker. Born in England, Hooker came to America is avoid religious persecution like so many others. He eventually settled in Connecticut and had home which was on a plot of land which today is part of the yard at Harvard College. In 1636, Thomas Hooker led 100 of his congregation west from New Haven to found the new English settlement at Hartford, Connecticut.

We wandered through the small brewery and Ryan quickly explained the process of making beer.  He explained how the brewery is looking for a larger location to expand as they’ve already added two additions since moving to this location in 2003.

At the end of the tour Ryan flipped a magical little switch that poured beer straight out a fermenter and we all lined up to have a sample.

 
Some carbonation is added when the beer is bottled, so the beer that came out of the fermenter was a little less bubbly, and I quite liked it this way.  I suppose I’ll have to get myself one of these in my house.  Ryan told us if we brought home a six-pack of beer every night and drank the entire thing, it would take us 7 years to drink the amount of beer that was in one fermenter. Challenge accepted.
Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut

When the tour ended we chatted with our tour guide for a few more minutes about home brewing, since Michael got a kit for Christmas and we’ve been wanting to start.  Then, we were feeling rather parched from all this small talk so we headed back to the sampling area.

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Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut
Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut Malt
Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut Malt
We hung around at the cozy little brewery until they closed, which was sadly at 5:00.  And some of us even used up all 10 tabs (others of us did not, as we were sick and the driver, whomp whomp.)
 
Thomas Hooker Brewery Connecticut
The visit to Thomas Hooker Brewery was definitely a good time.  I’d certainly go again and just skip the tour this time around since I saw it already it.  It was a great way to spend the afternoon for such a ridiculously cheap price.  I mean, where can you go now-a-days where $5 will entertain you for three hours and provide you with what seems like bottomless beer samplings?  The answer is Thomas Hooker Brewery, and that’s it.  If you’re ever in the Connecticut area I highly recommend a visit.
We ended the night at our friend’s house where she made a disgustingly gorgeous Olympic-themed table scape and served us portabella, bacon cheddar burger and shaved steak slider with fries.  Beer, friends, fries and burgers, the perfect Saturday… can I get an Amen!?

As a somewhat side note to the brewery, the next day we went to S&P Oyster in Mystic, Connecticut to celebrate my grandmother’s 88th birthday.  I got her her two favorite things for her birthday: a six pack of beer and some new lipstick.  When she arrived, she sat down and promptly ordered a classic margarita and showed off her new leopard-print cane to me.  Sometimes looking at her is like seeing a picture of what I’ll be like in 63 years.

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Her turning 88 also had me thinking, when she was my age, the U.S joined World War Two and when I’ll be her age, it will be 2076.  I can’t even begin to fathom that 2076 will actually ever be an real date, I can just hope to make it there and still be celebrating my birthday with family and margaritas.

What did you all do this weekend?

What’s your favorite kind of beer? Lager? Stout? Ale?

 

 

 

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