First off, if you've never been to Main Street in Middletown, you should add a visit to your to-do list. There are so many fun restaurants and bars, plus it's the home of NoRA Cupcake Company, which is incredible (and also the vendor for our wedding cupcakes)!
A little ways off of Main Street stands an old factory-turned-brewery on Johnson Street. This building is home to not one, but two Middletown breweries: Forest City Brewery and Stubborn Beauty Brewing Company. My friends and I made a quick stop at Forest City to meet up with our other friend, Katie, who was finishing a flight. The place was PACKED so we decided to move onto Stubborn Beauty rather than wait in line for more beers and flights here (both breweries closed relatively early, and we only had a couple hours left to make the most of our time there).
So to Stubborn Beauty we went.
A visit to Stubborn Beauty, Middletown brewery
Stubborn Beauty was also packed, but tip: find a spot near the windows. The windowsills are wide enough to support your pints and flights.
After perusing the beer list, I decided on a flight to try just about everything that was on tap.
One of the staff advised I start with the stout and end with the hoppy IPAs – so, from left to right, I tried:
- St. Alfonzo Belgian stout: This was what I described in my notes as a "tolerable" stout. Sometimes the maltiness comes on too strong for me, but not with the St. Alfonzo. It was medium-bodied and I could have enjoyed a pint of this.
- Porter Justice: Another medium-bodied dark beer, so it didn't come on too strong for me. I prefer the stout, though.
- Oceanographer's Choice w/ galaxy "Super hoppy fun time saison": This was very fruity and almost floral. The hops help keep this saison from tasting like cough medicine – anyone know what I mean by that? Sometimes I jut get a cough medicine aftertaste from a saison. Not this one.
- Nummy nummy IIPA: I really liked this ctirus-y IIPA. I didn't think I would given Stubborn Beauty's description - "an in your face juicy hop flavor" - but the juiciness leveled the hoppiness (for my palate anyway) and it was, well, yummy/nummy.
- Happy Treez IPA: I found Happy Treez to be the hoppiest of all. Yet, for someone who does not love super hoppy beers, the slight bitter finish sold it. I took home a growler (which shall be added to my centerpiece collection)!
Once we had our fill of Stubborn Beauty, we headed to Main Street we're we reconvened at The Hop Knot.
Pretzels and beer cheese and beer! at the Hop Knot
The Hop Knot has 24 beers on tap, so of course we had to start with another round of beer. Boulevard Brewing Company's Tell Tale Tart, part of its Smokestack Series, called to me because the name is a riff on "The Tell Tale Heart," and because it's a sour. It was just the perfect punch of sour after the stout, porter and IPAs at Stubborn Beauty.
Bonus photo: The word "brewery" reflected on Jason's hand (courtesy of his Brooklyn Bel Air Sour).
Obviously, at place called The Hop Knot, you must feast on pretzels. There were traditional pretzels, gourmet pretzels, and stuffed pretzels. All have butter baked into them, and all looked and smelled fantastic. (If you didn't already think this place sounds like a dream, they also serve pressed sandwiches made with pretzel bread.)
Jason and I split an Asiago Parmesan pretzel with mustard and beer cheese for dipping purposes. The beer cheese was SO GOOD and thick and creamy with a hint of bitterness (from New England Brewing Company's Sea Hag IPA) to tone down the heaviness of the cheese.
We also had a few bites of our friend's "The Spin" pretzel – spinach, artichoke and blue cheese stuffed and baked in a pretzel.
Dinner at Eli Cannon's Tap Room
After our "first course" of pretzels, we headed to Eli Cannon's Tap Room for dinner. It was prime dinner time on a Saturday, so we had time to digest before being seated. I had a cider to tide me over – Citizen Cider's The Dirty Mayor. I ended up sipping on it all night because it was very gingery and wasn't something you gulp down.
As for dinner, I went the pulled pork route an ordered "The Big Hog" sandwich: Black Hog Brewing Co. beer braised BBQ pork, cheddar cheese, big, thick slices of grilled Texas toast. It was a little drier than I was hoping for, but it was very good and the buttery toast was my favorite part (probably because I was thinking of my buttery pretzel!). I added some greens to my insanely carb-y day because, as we know, it's all about balance.
So that, my friends, is how you spend a winter Saturday in Middletown. You may or may not choose to cap the night with some karaoke in downtown New Haven.
Your turn: Have you ever been to the Middletown brewery and bar scene? What did you think?