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    Trout Brook Brewing, CT
    Posted under The New England Beer Reviews by Avery Glasser ( on Monday July 02 2001 @ 08:58PM CEST

    Trout Brook Brewing
    Hartford, CT

    The third of the Hartford brewpubs (City Steam and Hartford Brewing Co are the others), Trout Brook Brewing is where most locals will tell you to go if you're looking for a place for a good, locally brewed beer.

    Well, as all of you faithful readers of Scowl, Nu? know, good beer is in the eye of the beholder, and this little beer drinking piggy was less than impressed with more than just the beers.

    The Restaurant

    I know that this is a beer review here, but it makes sense to give some background before we get to the beers. Trout Brook is located in the former Spaghetti Warehouse building in the Parkview district of Hartford. Parkview is the Latin American/Portuguese section of Hartford and though I find the neighborhood to be vibrant and full of life, most of the white-collar workers who patronize the bar are scared shitless to actually drive their nice new cars there.

    Still, every weekend, droves of white-on-top-of-white folks get out to the brewery to throw down a couple of pints and act overall more "scary" than the Parkville residents that they are afraid of. I mean, have you ever watched a pair of yuppies try and mate? It still sends shivers up my spine.

    We have been to Trout Brook three times. Once, the crowd was so thick with testosterone and cigarette smoke that we opted to find good beer elsewhere. The second time, we went in for a quick dinner and a lackluster pair of beers. The third time we went was last Tuesday with Bruce, a long time friend and cigar lover.

    We were shown to our seats and the waitress comes over to take our drink orders. We ask for her to describe the "special" beers not listed on the menu. She lists two: an Octoberfest beer and an Indian Pale Ale. Indian??!!?? Sorry, honey... it's an India Pale Ale. No Indians (or Native Americans) were used, harmed or hired to make the beer. Nor does it taste like an Indian or Native American (I guess), so using Indian as an adjective is just plain wrong. Call me an arrogant bastard, but that sort of glaring lack of knowledge by my server WHEN I'M EATING IN THE MIDDLE OF A FUNCTIONING BREWERY is a blood pressure raising annoyance. When she brought the beers, she made sure to tell Bruce that the beer being set in front of him was an Indian Pale Ale... just in case he forgot.

    The food was tasty and the service, though annoying, was prompt and attentive. Now, onto the beers.

    The Beers

    Hooker Ale - Their flagship beer is a decent caramel-colored ale with a moderate hop nose and taste. Certainly not as hoppy or bitter as they espouse, it is certainly drinkable. Hooker Ale is shipped to local bars restaurants as well.

    Mayor Mike's Light - Mayor Mike's is an attempt to produce a Kölsch-style beer, but instead it has been reduced to the typical Amstel/Bud Light watery lagers that pander to the weekend crowd that the bar receives. The beer has more in common with toilet water than the beers of the City that shares its name (Cologne aka Köln).

    India Pale Ale - Though it uses the proper malts and Goldings hops, they fail to add enough malt to develop a strong, supportive taste and also under-hop the beer as well, causing a plain and uninteresting nose. No threat to Hartford Brewing in that category.

    Oktoberfest - Honestly, there are only two domestic Oktoberfests that I find worthy of the true Marzen designation (Marzenbiers are the classic Oktoberfest beers produced throughout Bavaria): Lagunitas' OKTBRFST and Speakeasy Brewing Company's Untouchable. Most of the American "Octoberfest" beers are thin, insipid little beers that fail to live up to the archetypes of the Marzenbiers: Spaten and Paulaner. Why can't American brewers make a decent Oktoberfest beer? I think that it's because most brewers are afraid to work with beers that require a significant amount of malt in the mix. Malty beers are challenging to produce, as the copious amount of malt creates a significant amount of extra sugar, which means that the yeasts might over-produce alcohol if not watched properly. Since it is such a high-maintainance beer to produce properly, they tend to make short cuts, resulting in the aforementioned thin, watery beers. The Trout Brook Oktoberfest was a better-than-most Oktoberfest, and if it wasn't for the fact that the Spigot had the Spaten Octoberfest on tap, I would actually consider grabbing the occasional pint of the Trout Brook Brew (of course, only to tide me over until the Spaten was ready). (Avery Glasser)

    Copyright 2000, Avery and Janet Glasser
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