An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
May 12, 2014
09:10 AM
The Connecticut Table

Connecticut Hotspots Shine for American Craft Beer Week; Great Food Too at Cask Republic, Ginger Man

Connecticut Hotspots Shine for American Craft Beer Week; Great Food Too  at Cask Republic, Ginger Man

There are beer bars for the artisan and craft beer aspirational set, and then there are beer bars for purists.

SKÅL Restaurant Group runs four upscale Connecticut bars (The Ginger Man of Greenwich and South Norwalk and the Cask Republic of New Haven and Stamford) that specialize in craft beer and definitely belong in the latter category. They are carbonated Taj Mahals with hops in their blood, and barley in their souls. 

Each location has dozens of draught beer lines (Cask Republic in New Haven has more than 50) that feature a rotating lineup of craft beer favorites from local brewers like New England Brewing Company and Half Full Brewing Company (which we recently wrote about), as well as a mix of well-known and obscure beers from breweries across the globe. So it comes as no surprise that all four SKÅL Restaurant Group locations are celebrating American Craft Beer Week in true hop-ening style.

American Craft Beer Week (yes it’s an actual thing), was started nine years ago by the Brewers Association and runs from May 12 to May 18. Every night during the week, each Ginger Man and Cask Republic location will be hosting special craft beer events.

On Wednesday, May 14, Cask Republic of Stamford will host a Connecticut brewery tap takeover that will feature the creations of several breweries operating in the Nutmeg State. On Friday, May 16, Cask Republic of New Haven will host a collaborative beer night featuring beers brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in collaboration with other giants of the craft beer industry such as Anchor Brewing Company.

 (See the full list of beer week events planned for each location below)

I recently stopped by Cask Republic in New Haven (rightto get a taste of what the venue has in store for beer lovers during American Craft Beer Week. The hip downtown space has a contemporary-meets-old-world tavern feel. Though upscale and sophisticated, it’s relaxed and thoroughly non-snobby. It has a beer cellar where vintage specialty beers are aged like wines, and in addition to its 50+ tap lines it has a cask-conditioned ale line.

Cask-conditioned ale is a traditional style that was prevalent prior to the introduction of carbon monoxide as a pressurizer in beer. Cask conditioned beers are naturally carbonated because carbonation is a byproduct of the creation of alcohol. Sought after by beer connoisseurs, cask-conditioned beer is not as cold as a normal beer, but its got a fresh and gritty flavor that purists love (instead of farm to table think barrel to glass).

(One of the great side dishes at Cask Republic) 

Though beer is the bedrock of the Cask Republic, it’s far from the only thing that makes this tavern a must-try destination. The pub boasts an impressive selection of blended scotches, single malts, craft bourbons, and American whiskies, and specializes in craft cocktails (below) featuring their signature fruit flavor infusions.

The place also has an impressive menu. SKÅL Restaurant Group is owned by Christian Burns, a French Culinary Institute graduate who worked under celebrity chef Bobby Flay at the Bolo Restaurant in New York. Burns’ culinary flare shines through at his pubs, which offer nifty high-end cuisine that is light years away from stereotypical bar food.

Cask Republic of New Haven and the other SKÅL bars regularly host beer dinners, where various dishes are paired with craft beers that complement the food flavors. But even if you can’t attend one of these events, the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Cask Republic can make pairing recommendations. During my trip, General Manager Norman Macdonald recommended some divine food and beverage combinations. We matched Goose Island Beer Company’s Matilda (an American Ale) with oven roasted Murray's Chicken served with brown butter and mashed potatoes; Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Ovila Abbey Saison with Blackened Fish Tacos; and a sour Belgian beer that cut through the sharp flavors of an artisan cheese platter. Cask Republic is a beer and food lover's match made in heaven and the events at this bar and its sister taverns are not to be missed. 

SKÅL American Craft Beer Week events are listed below. 

Cask Republic of New Haven: 

Ginger Man of Greenwich: 

Ginger Man of South Norwalk: 

Cask Republic of Stamford: 

Connecticut Hotspots Shine for American Craft Beer Week; Great Food Too at Cask Republic, Ginger Man

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