Weekend Recap: An Inside Look at Two Hartford Breweries

I spent the afternoon on Saturday checking out two Hartford breweries: Hanging Hills Brewing Co. and Hog River Brewing Co. You might have seen my post on Instagram, teasing my adventure:

Why didn't this dog want to take a selfie with me? Tune in Monday #ontheblog to find out!

A post shared by Cate (@bitesnflights) on

The answer: Because I didn't have food! He wasn't interested in staying still for a photo and wanted to go sniff around for pretzel droppings.

Meet Wheeler, the resident dog at Hanging Hills Brewing Company.

Hartford breweries hanging hills

Wheeler is in his element, waiting for people to drop crumbs.

An afternoon at Hanging Hills Brewing Company

Jason and I had the pleasure of meeting Wheeler while we enjoyed flights at Hanging Hills, one of two Hartford breweries on Saturday's agenda. The brewery is located in an industrial complex close to I-91. It was packed when we arrived – a good sign that people are willing to travel outside Hartford proper for good beer!

Hanging Hills is named after the range of mountainous trap rock ridges close to Hartford (in the Meriden/Southington/Berlin area). As such, the brewery maintains a commitment to its surrounding environment, using a steam-powered brewhouse to minimize its carbon footprint, sourcing ingredients locally, and more.

flight hartford breweries

Quite the flight from Hanging Hills Brewing Company.

Back to the beer itself. Hanging Hills' flights are comprised of  five tasters. Here's what I tried, from back left to front right:

  • Metacomet IPA:  A classic, hoppy IPA.
  • Guthrie Dry Irish Stout: This stout had too much going on for me. I didn't take good notes on it but the brewery's website describe it as "burnt fig, grape jam, roasty and nutty." I don't love the taste of fig so that's probably what bothered me.
  • Rayn Man ESB: This was a lighter ESB compared to the DuVig I tried a few weeks ago – not too bitter, and easy to drink.
  • Bavarian Armadillo Session IPA: This was my favorite of the bunch and I ordered a growler to take home. It is dry and slightly citrusy, and I loved it.
  • YPA (Yellow Pale Ale): This is a juicy pale ale. Good for those who like a pale ale with a little character.

The brewery also offers giant baked pretzels and pretzel rolls. Jason and I grabbed a big pretzel with plenty of mustard for dipping:

pretzel hartford breweries

Yum... beer and pretzels.

Hanging in 'Hartford's Living Room,' aka Hog River Brewing

Our Hartford breweries tour also included a stop at Hog River Brewing. This is closer to downtown Hartford, but still you should know that you need to keep your eye out to find the correct entrance.

The brewery is situated in a complex with a few buildings, including on branded "HRG." From far away (far enough to miss the phrase "Hartford Restaurant Group" beneath the letters) and without paying attention, one may equate HRG with HRB... but that is not the correct building!

hartford breweries doorway

This is the entryway to Hartford Restaurant Group. Don't make the same mistake I did.

THIS is the correct building!

hartford breweries entrance

It's the beige/off-white building. There might be a food truck in front of it.

Don't let the simple doorway fool you. The inside is something else:

hartford breweries hog river inside

Look at this industrial warehouse aesthetic! And that giant machine press back there!

It may seem like a big, echoey, mechanical place but Hog River Brewing is warm and friendly, just as its tagline ("Welcome to Hartford's Living Room") suggests.

hartford breweries hog river

Darks and taps.

I tried a flight of the five beers on tap  (including the three dark beers above).  Here's what I thought, from left to right in the photo below:

Hog River beer

All the beers in my flight.

  • Flight of Crow Imperial Stout: This was heavy and sweet, with a syrupy aftertaste.
  • Old Pub Porter: Don't let the dark color fool you... this porter was crisp and clean.
  • 8th Ward Brown Ale: This had that classic roasted brown ale taste to it, but didn't "stick" like other brown ales I've had in the past. In other words, it wasn't heavy.
  • Methodology IPA: This unfiltered IPA was almost chewy, it had more body than other, hoppier IPAs.
  • Harriet, a German Altbier: Clean, bittery, also not too hoppy. The copper color lends itself to an slightly coppery taste (in a good way).

So there you have it -- if you haven't made the Hartford breweries circuit yet, here are two suggestions to get you started!

Have you checked out either Hanging Hills Brewing Co. or Hog River Brewing? What did you think?

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