Trout Brook Brewing
The third of the Hartford brewpubs (City Steam
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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