MENU back

Liquid Gold: A Craft-Brew Flight Along the Connecticut Beer Trail

By Will Siss. Modified by the Connecticut Office of Tourism.

Stop into any of these Connecticut breweries for a chance to witness ingenuity in action and to sample some of the most creative beers being brewed anywhere in the country.

At this time, many breweries are also offering takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery. As always, be sure to check each location before venturing out as hours may change due to COVID-19.

To get the most of any brewery, the best option is to order a flight: a sampling of what is on tap, from the smokiest of stouts to the bitterest of India pale ales. Consider this a virtual flight; adjust your seatbelts and keep the folding tray down where it belongs for sips along the way. And remember, always drink responsibly or make sure you designate a driver.

Stony Creek Brewery, Branford

Branford is home to Stony Creek Brewery, with its lovely river view. Take some time to hang out on one of the broad decks, or play some bocce while you sip a pint of Cranky, the brewery’s potent IPA with a hint of pine. Want to start more slowly? Try the Little Cranky, which brewer Andy Schwartz created to display similar lemony notes but with less alcohol than Cranky. The brewery features several other examples of craftsmanship, including an amber lager, so take a gulp before we go back in the air.

Two Roads Brewing Company, Stratford

Take off and landing is quick as we arrive just to the west at Two Roads Brewing in Stratford, located in a hulking, revitalized manufacturing building with a full bar in its sprawling tasting room (if you arrived here by train, take the free weekend shuttle from the Stratford Metro-North station). Here you can get your fill of flagship beers like Worker’s Comp Saison, a gem from brewer Phil Markowski, who literally wrote the book on farmhouse-style beers. Markowski published Farmhouse Ales in 2004. The brewery also serves Lil’ Heaven, a low-alcohol IPA with a big punch.

Southport Brewing Company, Southport

Our flight continues to Southport, home of Southport Brewing Company. Here, a sleek dining room beckons us to sample beer in food form — the Stout Onion Soup is always soul satisfying — along with a selection from their home brews. What goes best with onions? Maybe the tart Sour Pear Wheat Ale, the crisp Rye IPA or the creamy Black Rock Stout. And if you find yourself in the air and craving another Southport pint, descend to the brewery’s Milford location.

Clocktown Brewing Company, Thomaston

Take a sip back in time. Located in the historic Seth Thomas Clock Factory building, Clocktown Brewing Company features a lively taproom for the ages. We invite you to try our variety of craft beers and specialty cocktails, paired with our delicious wood-fired pizzas and classic pub fare. While you’re here, gear up for a game of cornhole or unwind and enjoy live music from your favorite local musicians.

City Steam Brewery Café, Hartford

Now we're off to catch some grub and a beer at Hartford's City Steam Brewery Café, a brewpub with an eclectic list. Brewmaster Ron Page has been making beer since the 1970s and could be serving up his crisp Naughty Nurse Amber Ale, a feathery light Colt 46 Lager, or even a velvety, sweet Unkel Dunkel Lager. Shoot some pool while you’re there, or if you’re in the mood, catch a show at the Brew Ha Ha Comedy Club on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Beer’d Brewing, Stonington

Wheels up and we’re headed southeast to one of the smallest, yet most creative, breweries in the state: Beer’d Brewing in Stonington. Grab yourself a sample of Hobbit Juice: This double IPA features a hop from New Zealand and might instill enough bravado to make you want to go on a quest. In this establishment you’re likely to see the bearded one himself, owner and brewer Aaren Simoncini, explaining his theories on barrel aging or simply hauling a sack of grain.

Willimantic Brewing Company, Willimantic

Before we zip back west, let’s pop by Willimantic Brewing Company, a beautiful brewpub that lives inside an old post office. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of tastelessness stays brewer David Wollner from the swift completion of his appointed beers. Those can include the clean and light Certified Gold, Pushing the Envelope IPA and even the occasional beer made with pepper.

Broad Brook Brewing, Suffield

Heading back northwest, we come to a safe landing in Suffield. Here we can duck into Broad Brook Brewing, where we’ll arrive at a modern strip mall but feel like we’ve landed at a rustic sanctuary, complete with a reconstructed tobacco barn over the bar. The trio of homebrewers who went professional with this establishment have not left their experimental days behind them. Experience the malty heft of the Porter’s Porter, the sweetness of hibiscus in the Pink Dragon WIT or the monstrously citrusy Hopstillo IPA.

Thomas Hooker Brewing, Bloomfield

A tour of the state’s breweries wouldn’t be complete without a layover at Thomas Hooker Brewing in Bloomfield. Here you might encounter a party going on in the tasting room. Join in and grab yourself a sampling of a crisp Hooker Blonde or satisfy your sweet tooth with a Chocolate Truffle Stout.

Thimble Island Brewing Company, Branford

We land safely home again in Branford, where at Thimble Island Brewing you can raise a pint to old-fashioned hard work with an American Ale. Thimble Island reflects the same determination and craftsmanship you’ll find overflowing throughout the state.

Get Out On the Trail

There are plenty of other breweries to visit along the Connecticut Beer Trail, so get ready. Your next flight is already boarding.


Will Siss is a writer whose “Beer Snob” column has been running in the Waterbury Republican-American since 2005. He is the author of Connecticut Beer: A History of Nutmeg State Brewing. Follow his adventures in Connecticut beer at

iPad showing CTvisit website

Connecticut, Delivered Right to Your Fingertips

Share your email address to receive our free newsletter and be the first to see the latest travel deals, attractions and news from!