Nestled away in the quiet and unassuming town of East Windsor, CT lies another example of a couple fine and upstanding individuals trying to turn a home brewing passion into a way of life. In other words, the new American dream is alive and it’s at Broad Brook Brewing Company.
It took me a couple of times driving past the plaza that Broad Brook is in for my brain to fully notice their sign. That’s not to say it’s not large enough to spot from the road, it’s just that I never thought that Sofia’s plaza would have a brewery in it. Yet if you drive past the Subway and the Chinese take-out and even past the pool hall (which doesn’t serve their beer for some reason) you will find yourself by a factory. In that factory they’re making beer, and though no one will say it’s ground breaking stuff, it’s still pretty damn good.
Broad Brook started as many new craft breweries started, by a couple of guys who found success in home brewing in their garage and decided to take the next step to brewing full time. These guys are Eric Mance, Joe DeAlba and the Master Brewer Tom Rossing. Their story has been written about in the Hartford Courant and is proudly told as you take the short but informative tour. They home brewed beer good enough for friends to encourage them, this gave them the confidence to enter contests and the same confidence led them to investing into opening their own brewery. Now the customers encourage them by showing up and drinking the beer that they love to make.
The first time I went to Broad Brook I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had read a couple reviews of their beer that were favorable but none deeming it remarkable. Their website was a bit lackluster, you could tell the information was a outdated as they still mentioned hoping to open their brewery soon. When you open the front door and walk in you’re immediately transported to a wooden barn themed tap room that welcomes you with the smells of pine and most importantly; beer!
On busier days / nights the line forms at the door for growler fills, but the staff behind the bar keeps them moving just as quickly as folks come in. There is ample seating around the bar, mostly filled with locals who can’t get themselves enough of Broad Brook’s ales and IPA’s. Tables are prime real estate so if you’re going to stick around and soak it all in you’re going to have to dive on one fast if you see an opening. There is no food served other than a few snacks, but a number of local eateries are more than happy to deliver to the tap room if asked. I have been a handful of times and have never seen less than 10 people in there at a time, a fact that must make the trio of owners very happy.
Broad Brook is not one of those hop crazy craft breweries. They do not chase the new and shiny beer style. What they do well are dark beers as evidenced by their Porter’s Porter, No BS Brown Ale, Broad Brook Ale and my personal favorite; Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. Their IPA’s are not remarkable, but they are drinkable, and their Dark Star IPA and Rough Guy Rye IPA steal the show in that category. Hopstillo IPA scored a pass from me, it was a little too tart for my liking and the carbonation was on the higher level. Seriously though, stick to their dark beers, if you’re a fan of Guinness you owe it to yourself and them to try their Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. I have yet to review their beers, but that is going to be the first one I do.
The tour itself doesn’t take long, after all you’re talking about a nano-brewery here. It was about 15 minutes after the numerous questions that were asked. I was really impressed with the level of automation that they have there, after everything is measured out the whole process is automated which is why every time I go in there the beer tastes the same.
Some cool things I noted; they give all of their spent grain to local farms to be used as feed which is awesome to hear, they go through 600lbs of grain a day at Broad Broak so that’s a lot of feed going back into the community.
Their goal is to hit above 1500 bbls a year which is what they did in their first year alone and a testament to the demand for their product.
They also started canning and an can twelve 16oz cans a minute! They distribute mostly in the Connecticut area, but are also venturing out into Western Mass. You can get their beer on tap at the Yardehouse Tavern down the road from them. I have personally found their beer at local packies like Lafayette Liquours in Vernon.
They’re a small operation, they have about 15 employees total and are pretty comfortable with that. They are looking forward to making the jump to a new and bigger location which will allow them to produce more beer and hire more people.
Broad Brook is a great place, the staff is pleasant, the beer is tasty and their approach is the anti-thesis of those ‘proud macro breweries’, focus on creating quality craft beer that people enjoy drinking. Any stop there on a Saturday night when the place is hopping will show you that they’re doing quite well in fulfilling that goal.