#109 – Back East Brewing Company in Bloomfield, CT

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(1) THE BREWREY & OUR EXPERIENCE

Upon our arrival in the Back East tasting room, we were pleasantly greeted by tasting room manager, Jamie Farrell, and offered some samples of the beers available that day. Shortly thereafter we met with co-founder, Tony Karlowicz, and head brewer, Mike Smith, to discuss the brewery as it neared two full years of business. Founders Tony and Edward are cousins who both developed a love and appreciation for good beer – Tony while in college in Vermont and Edward while in San Diego. Edward began homebrewing while in CA in the 90’s and, after moving ‘Back East’ to CT, he and Tony took up homebrewing together in 2006. As the brewery opened, they hired their first employee, Mike Smith, as head brewer. Mike has an extensive list of professional brewing experience, including time in Boston at Harpoon and Mayflower and is currently assisted in brewing duties by Matt Paonessa.

Back East offers four year round beers – Golden Ale, Back East Ale (amber), Misty Mountain IPA, and Porter – in six pack cans as well as on draught in accounts throughout CT. On top of those, there is a selection of four beers released seasonally – Oktoberfest, Winterfest with cinnamon and local honey, Spring Ale Biere de Mars, and Summer Ale hoppy blonde. The Summer Ale is the first seasonal to be canned, utilizing shrink wrap labels, and will be released into the market this Friday, June 13th. In addition, the Back East releases high gravity beers under their Hammer of the Gods series. The initial release was an Imperial Stout, followed by Palate Mallet Double IPA which is scheduled to hit shelves in 4-packs of cans in July. It is clear that Back East Brewing Co. is doing their part to draw consumers towards craft in this young CT movement. The brewery is located a short 15 minute drive north of Hartford so pay them a visit for some free samples and to make some new friends in the tasting room.

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[Edward on the brewdeck]

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(2) VITAL INFORMATION

Date of our visit: Wednesday, 04/16/2014
Open since: July of 2012
Approx. Barrel (bbl) Output 2013: approximately 2,000 bbl
Projected bbl Output 2014: n/a
Brewhouse size: 10 bbl
Founder(s): Tony Karlowicz and Edward Fabrycki, Jr.
Head Brewer: Mike Smith
Packaging: Kegs & Cans
Distribution: Connecticut

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Other things we learned:

*Brewery slogan: “Find Your Way Back”
* Brewing alternating 4 and 6 times per week.
* Started with 6 – 20 bbl tanks. Recently added 2 more tanks (bright and fermenter)
* Foam Tim watches over the canning line. Named due to a progam on the canning line that shortened ‘Foam Time” to Foam Tim.
*They participate in the annual Shad Derby Festival in Windsor, CT and even brew the Shad Derby Pale Ale in honor of the occasion.
* Mike is co-author of The Comic Book Story of Beer: The World’s Favorite Beverage from 7,000 BC to Today’s Craft Brewing Revolution. The book is scheduled to be released October 2014
* Brewery tours Sat at 12, 1, 2, and 3 pm. $3 for tour, 5oz glass and samples. The tasting room is open Wed-Sat and features complimentary samples.

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(3) BEERS WE TASTED DURING OUR VISIT

*Golden Ale
*Back East Ale (Amber)
*Porter
*Misty Mountain IPA

* Year-round beers
* Seasonal beers
* Hammer of the Gods Series beers

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What we learned about their beer during our visit:

*Canning began about one year into operation. The 4 flagship beers are pre-printed cans but blank cans with shrink wrap to enable smaller batches and seasonals
* Some of the beers are Ed and Tony’s homebrewing recipes.
*Flagship: Back East Ale, Golden, IPA. Porter is 4th and came in the Fall.
* Hammer of the Gods series is their high ABV/Big beers: Opened up with an Imperial Stout. Palate Mallet Double IPA coming out soon
*Seasonals: Spring Ale, Summer Ale, Oktoberfest, Winterfest. Just started canning.

(4) EXPANSION PLANS

n/a

(5) BACKGROUND OF PEOPLE WE SPOKE TO

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[L-R: Michael, Tony, Mike, Me]

Name: Mike Smith
Title: Head Brewer
Been with company since: June 2012
Previous Brewing Experience: Harpoon, Waterloo, and more
Previous Occupation(s): Brewer
Favorite Superhero: Himself in the Comic Book Story of Beer

Name: Tony Karlowicz
Title: Founder
Been with company since: Founding
Previous Brewing Experience: Homebrewing
Previous Occupation(s): CPA
Favorite Superhero: Dora the Explorer

(6) MORE LINKS ABOUT BREWERY

* Brewery Website
* Brewery Blog
* Tours and Tasting Room Hours
*Video Explaining Why Cans?

(7) You can find the rest of our photos here

Author: Brandon Wurtz

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[Foam Tim]

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