Hundreds of beer aficionados packed into the College Street Music Hall Saturday afternoon to sample craft drinks while enjoying live indie and orchestral rock selections.
At the Elm City Brew Festival, more than 60 craft breweries from across the country, serving beers and ciders, convened to distribute samples of their products. For Elm City resident Venkat Subramanyam, the event allowed him to sample all of the local breweries that he would have had to visit individually.
“I haven’t been to any of the local breweries, so this is a good place to try them all out,” he said.
One brewery he tried was the Woodbridge-based New England Brewing Company, which produces nearly 30 beers throughout the year such as the Elm City Golden Ale and the Blackwell Stout, according to Sebastian Dagostino, the company’s master brewer. Saturday’s event was also just one of several brew festivals the company partakes in, he added. Through its three distributors, the microbrewery sells its craft beer in Connecticut, as well as some parts of New York.
Older, nationally-operating breweries were also present at the event.
Sierra Nevada, which opened in 1979 and was one of the first breweries in the United States to produce craft beers, filled sample cups with five winter beers, vendor Greg Radawich said. He added that the company brews out of two different cities: Chico, California and Asheville, North Carolina, allowing the company to serve both the East and West Coasts. Sierra Nevada will continue opening new breweries throughout the country, starting near the coasts and moving toward the Midwest, Radawich said.
The event also featured entertainment from the Michigan-based Soil & the Sun as well as New Jersey-based OWEL bands.
One couple, who bought VIP tickets for $45 — $5 to $10 more expensive than regular tickets — were able to sample craft beverages like Sierra Nevada’s Maple Scotch Ale an hour before regular attendees. But the event became increasingly overcrowded as people with regular tickets began to stream in.
Cider makers also took their barrels to the event. Northeast Beverage — a distributor in Orange, Connecticut — served California-based ACE Premium Craft Cider. A flow of attendees sampled the pumpkin cider and SPACE -— a Star Wars-themed and limited edition blood orange cider.
If the beer and cider was not enough, guests could also purchase cupcakes baked with alcohol. Hardcore Sweet Cupcakes, a winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, supplied alcoholic and non-alcoholic cupcakes made in its Oakville, Connecticut bakery.
“Nothing [soaks] up the beer like a cupcake,” Stephanie Guerette, a cupcake maker at Hardcore Sweet, told a customer.
Though Hardcore Sweet vends at College Street Music Hall, it joined the brewery spirit and sold its beer and pretzel cupcake — a chocolate beer cake with buttercream frosting, caramel and chocolate sauce as well as crushed pretzels.
In 2013, Connecticut adults over the age of 21 consumed on average 22.1 gallons of beer — the second-least of any state.