Bobby V’s in Windsor Locks is a top-notch watering hole for locals and travelers alike. Located just a stone’s throw from Bradley International Airport, Bobby V’s is a dedicated sports bar with an enormous bar area and secluded rooms for larger parties, all of which are fully equipped with big screen TV’s and even a golf simulator. To say Bobby V’s is the quintessential sports bar would be an understatement, it’s a step above the rest with one of the best draft lists in the state, great food, and an environment that rivals all competitors. It’s like the mirage at the edge of the desert that ended up being real after all.
So when a place like Bobby V’s plays host to one of the most beloved Connecticut breweries for a tap take over, there’s no place we’d rather be. This past week New England Brewing Company came through and dropped off a few treats for the CT craft faithful. From a cask of Double Dry Hopped Fuzzy Baby Ducks to their straight forward Galaxy Pale Ale, there truly wasn’t a bad beer on the menu.
Out of the four beers NebCo had to offer that evening, we decided to rank them from our favorite, to our 4th favorite because when it comes to beers from NebCo there isn’t really a “worst” beer in the bunch.
4. Galaxy Pale Ale
Galaxy, when utilized the right way is probably my favorite hop. The aromatics that the Southern Hemisphere hop produces is reminiscent of passionfruit, citrus, and peach. I’m not the only one either, in fact, Galaxy is so popular that some breweries are having a hard time just getting their hands on the Australian product. All of this love aside, I have to say I’m going to be critical of its star power.
Single-hopped IPA’s and Pale Ale’s rely on complex character from their leading hop, and unfortunately, Galaxy just doesn’t quite get the same results as its often-compared rival, Citra. The Galaxy Pale Ale looks amazing in the glass and has an amazing grapefruit pith aroma, but this one came across a little too bitter for the both of us, and lacked some of the big fruit flavors that we’ve come to expect with Galaxy hopped beers. The malt bill was clean and simple but the lack of juice and a little too much bitterness leaves this Pale Ale sitting at #4 on our list.
3. Sea Hag
If you ask people around the state to name their top 5 favorite IPA’s, chances are Sea Hag is going to land somewhere on that list. While my brother and I may not necessarily be some of those people, we can’t deny that this is a damn good beer. It has pretty much everything you want in an IPA; bold hop flavor, great mouthfeel, and a solid dose of caramel malts to balance everything out. Even further, if you’re at the package store and you’re looking to impress your craft beer buddies or maybe introduce a newbie to a gateway beer, Sea Hag is a very worthy option for both occasions.
Cascade and noble hops (European varieties) set the stage for a steadfast malt bill that translates into a darker than expected IPA. Almost an ode to the IPA’s that once made up the northeast before we became synonymous with hazy, unfiltered, brighter looking offerings. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe it’s just because when you want to get your hands on a consistent IPA, Sea Hag is what you should drink.
2. Ghost Pigeon
There tends to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the difference between a Porter and a Stout. Some point to the fact that Porters use malted barley and Stouts use primarily unmalted roasted barley which is where most of the coffee flavor comes from. Some look to the 19th century when a “stout” was simply a heavier version of a Porter. Others look to the brewmaster to decide the style of beer, further blurring the line between the two and causing more questions than answers.
For what it’s worth, Ghost Pigeon is a Porter. It is perhaps the most delicate Porter I have ever enjoyed. With a complex flavored body bursting with caramel and coffee notes, it’s amazing that Ghost Pigeon is only 5.8% ABV. Typically to evoke such bold flavors, more specialty grains need to be used, therefore higher ABV, but packing all of these flavors into a sessionable alcohol percentage is impressive.
Poured into a 13-oz. tulip, the Ghost Pigeon is a beautiful dark chestnut color with a tan head of foam. Notes of chocolate and roasted coffee beans are present on the nose while the palate introduces a touch of dark fruit and sweetness. Its drinkability sets it apart from most of the beers in the same category which is probably why Ghost Pigeon is so well respected within the CT craft beer circle. A worthy competitor, Ghost Pigeon fought valiantly but couldn’t quite win us over for the top spot.
1. Fuzzy Baby Ducks (Double Dry-Hopped Cask w/ Nelson Sauvin & Galaxy)
If Sea Hag is the go-to IPA for most people in Connecticut, then Fuzzy Baby Ducks is the white whale that many are still chasing. We’ve been lucky enough to have the standard Fuzzy Baby Ducks which is a single-hopped Citra IPA, but the version we enjoyed at the tap takeover was something quite different.
Cask beer is often defined as unfiltered and unpasteurized beer which is conditioned and served from a cask without any additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure, often at room temperature. We’ve been able to sample a few cask beers along our journey around the state and most of the time our response has been lukewarm, no pun intended.
This cask beer was a lot different however. Fuzzy Baby Ducks can carry its own weight just on flavor alone, but by dry-hopping with two of the most complex hops in the game sure threw us for a loop. I’ve pined over the Galaxy hop a little earlier in this article so I’ll hold back, but Nelson is another hop that seems to make everything better when used the right way.