By Haley Steinhauser
Beer: one of the oldest drinks produced by humans, dating back to the fifth millennium BC, made from yeast-fermented malt flavored hops. The earliest recordings of producing the beverage were found in writings from Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Historians concluded that the first production of beer took place in what is known today as Iran. As an American favorite, it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that beer was mass-produced.
In recent years there has been a growing in trend in craft brewing, as opposed to mass-producers such as Miller, Budweiser, or Coors. If you’re a beer enthusiast, a day trip to some great breweries in Eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island will give you all that you could want.
Here are our top craft breweries to visit:
Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island
63 Canal Street | Westerly | Rhode Island
Established in 2011 and located in what was formerly known as the Westerly Macaroni Factory in the 1920’s, Grey Sail Brewing is a local favorite that offers many popular beers. Having recently opened a new taproom next to the brewery in an old Victorian house, this addition offers a great environment to hang out in, relax and drink good beer!
With a classic early-American ambiance, both the interior and outdoor area make this brewery a spot that will be a year-round favorite. Outside there are picnic tables for seating, a corn hole set and an area for bocce ball. With five year-round beers on tap plus three seasonal ones there are many choices. A flight costs $10, which may more than other breweries, but the environment makes up for the higher prices. Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island is an overall fun place to check out in a great town that also has a lot to offer.
Our top picks:
- Captain’s Daughter – An imperial and double IPA with a strong fruity aroma and full-bodied with Mosaic hops. ABV 8.5%
- Great Ketch – An imperial India pale ale lager with a golden color. Brewed with German pilsner malts, this beer is a great year round choice. ABV 8%
- Hazy Day – A seasonal Belgium wit styled beer (May through August) with a refreshing and unfiltered taste, great for a summer day. ABV 4%
Beer’d Brewing Company
22 Bayview Ave #15 | Stonington | Connecticut
A hidden gem in an old American Velvet Mill located in the beautiful town of Stonington, Connecticut. This microbrewery was established in 2012 and has produced a variety of great beers. Most of their brews have particularly high alcohol contents. The taproom is inviting and the staff was very knowledgeable and helpful. With a brewery of this size, the selection of beers often change, but you can always count on that there will be a great IPA on tap. The creativity of Beer’d is evident—from its great logo to brew names.
Drinks at Beer’d Brewing Company. Photo by @killihumpdrinksbeer
Our top picks:
- Wet Dogs & Capsized Boats – An imperial and double IPA that features Citra and Mosaic hops. ABV 10.1%
- Hop-a-Boat – A ‘rendition’ of an American IPA with hints of pine, grapefruit rind, and citrus. ABV 7%
- Late Entry – An American Pale Ale great for the summer with a crisp taste, featuring Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. ABV 6%
Outer Light Brewing Company
266 Bridge Street | Groton | Connecticut
Located right off of 95, Outer Light Brewing Company has a lot to offer between some great beer and a fun environment. This craft brewery was established in 2013 and their taproom just opened in May 2015. With long wooden tables and an array of board games, the space is a welcoming and fun setting. Outer Lights currently has 11 beers on tap. The brewery has many classic ales and also features a few brews that are extremely unique—from the Ninja Trail Green Tea Pale Ale to their Royal Sea Saison, that is infused with lavender. Prices at the brewery are pretty standard, as a ‘flight’ (choice of 4 beers, in glasses ranging from 2 to 6 ounces) was $8. Adding on to the creativity of the taproom, they give you a black board flight tray, where you write down what you want and then give to the bartender. Outer Lights offers almost everything except for 32-ounce growlers, yet they will refill one if you bring your own.
Our top picks:
- Swell East Coast Lager – A well-balanced German style copper lager. ABV 6.1%
- SUBduction – Outer Lights bestseller. A dynamic IPA with a lighter malty taste. ABV 6.8%
- Liberation Propaganda Coffee Stout – Award winning and another one of the breweries most popular beers. A dark beer with a rich roasted malt and coffee aroma.
Cottrell Brewing Company
100 Mechanic Street | Pawcatuck | Connecticut
Cottrell is the oldest continually run brewery in Connecticut, established in 1997. Bigger than the other breweries we visited, they have eight beers on tap with a weekly nano brew and guest taps. If you’re a history buff, this is your place as most of the names of the beers are based on different local historical events. One brew being their Scotch Ale, Perry’s Revenge, which was named for the wreck of the USS Revenge off the coast of Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The owner himself, Charlie Buffum, found the wreck on a scuba diving excursion. It was “Last seen in 1811, the USS Revenge was Oliver Hazard Perry’s first Naval Command before his famous victory in the battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.”
Aside from the rich history behind their brews, the years of experience behind this craft brewery is evident in each sip. Although Cottrell doesn’t have an official taproom, the bar is located right in the brewery itself, giving it an authentic feel. It has better deals than other breweries when it comes to tastings and growler fills. They do complimentary tastings or you have the option to buy a $5 glass to keep and try the beers with. A growler fill for most brews costs $7, which is one of the best deals you’ll find. With friendly and well-versed bartenders, Cottrell offers a great experience and is worth a visit.
Our top picks:
- Old Yankee Ale – An amber ale with a malt taste that has extremely high reviews. ABV 5%
- Mystic Bridge – A great year-round IPA and the Cottrell Brewing Co best seller. ABV 6%
- Incredibly Pretentious Ale (IPA) – We were lucky enough to get one of the first tastes of this new beer and it was our favorite one. A double IPA with a strong hoppy taste. ABV 7.5%
If you’re still thirsty, make sure to check out our list of best cocktail bars in NYC!