Todd Sullivan and Tim Daley, the brewmasters at Pioneer Brewing Company, brew their golden mixtures of fresh hops, malts, and barley into an eclectic array of frothy beers with a focus on freshness and community. Each of Pioneer's beers⎯including the American nitro stout, American pale ale, and spring doppelbock⎯are brewed to not only meet their own exceedingly high standards, but particularly the high standards of their friends, regulars, and the local beer lovers who bathe in it. Todd and Tim relish their microbrew status and 150-acre Hyland apple-orchard setting, and plan to stay small in order to continue the tradition of crafting only the finest brews for themselves and their community.
Small plates have become more and more ubiquitous in all types of American restaurants, but Bocado Tapas Wine Bar stays true to the dining style's Spanish roots, using recipes and ingredients traditionally found in Mediterranean kitchens.
As Bocado's menu explains, some of their tapas are very simple, and some are decidedly more sophisticated. The frias, or cold dishes, include everything from marinated olives to raw tuna with lemon-basil crema, sweet-potato chips, and chili avocado. The calientes, or hot dishes, are equally diverse, counting both pork meatballs and piquillo peppers stuffed with veal, mahon cheese, basil, and pine nuts among them. To try a little bit of everything, order the Bocado Experience, a meal for up to eight people that includes a choice of charcuterie, tapas, paella, and desserts, with the option to add sangria.
Besides sangria, the restaurant serves a lengthy list of exclusively Spanish wines. Most are available by the pour, glass, or bottle, which means guests never have to sip them from a big vat in the back.
Sharpe Hill Vineyard may sit in the sleepy town of Pomfret, but that hasn't done anything to diminish the winery's international profile. Its wines have racked up more than 250 medals over the years, and with good reason. The Ballet of Angels vintage alone has won 15 awards; critics far and wide have spoken highly of the semi-dry white's citrusy blend with notes of peach, pear, and grapefruit.
But that's just one of the vintages crafted by winemaster Howard Burnsen, who draws on 25 years of experience to create an eclectic variety of wines. The rich Cabernet Franc, for instance, pairs nicely with chocolate desserts and chocolate-covered vegetables, while the St. Croix, a dry red, pairs best with beef and lamb. Try out any of these pairings at the winery's own Fireside Tavern restaurant.
Sea Dog Steak & Ale's menu catalogs hearty pub food and a deep well of beer. Every item on the menu pairs almost perfectly with one of the pub's 10 locally crafted brews served on tap, whether it's the milky Sea Dog Stout and the marinated grilled steak tips, the malty Winter Ale to wash down the chorizo-crusted haddock, or the crisp flavor of the Raspberry Wheat Ale as a palate cleanser after dinner. Sea Dog's chefs also grill 8-ounce filets mignons, which are as heavy as Willy Wonka minus his candy weight. The patties of seven specialty burgers blend ground beef, short rib, chuck, and brisket, all piled with toppings ranging from balsamic-marinated onions to root-beer barbecue sauce.
The alehouse's nightly crowd adds to the convivial ambiance of the pub by sharing drinks on its outdoor patio or in its rustic wood-paneled, chocolate- and almond-colored dining room. Frequent visitors can join the wine or mug clubs, which toss in benefits such as personalized mugs, T-shirts, and a spiritual connection with America's most famous beer drinker: Benjamin Franlin, the inventor of both mugs and T-shirts.
In addition to introducing customers to the intricacies of brewing beer and wine with instructional books and DVDs, Strange Brew can actually train customers in the fine art of making booze from scratch during its monthly in-store classes. During these small-group sessions, brewers divulge the necessary pieces of equipment, explore the core ingredients, discuss their roles in the brewing and fermentation processes, and lead a tasting of the final product. Even when they aren't applying this hands-on approach, the staff excel at helping customers ready their first batch, whether for a party or as a way to make taking a bath more fun. Starter kits for beer and wine include essential tools, such as fermenting and bottling buckets, siphon hoses, and hydrometers. To help customers fill these components with the requisite ingredients, a range of basic and specialized recipe kits feature pre-measured selections of hops and malts or juices and yeasts. Other kits are suited to more specialty brewing projects, such as mead or sake. For the more serious craft-brewers, Strange Brew also carries heavy-duty stainless-steel instruments by Blichmann.
Founded by certified beer judge Michael Bernier, DIY Brewing Supply equips and educates patrons in the arts of at-home fermentation procedures and food construction. Beginner's brewing classes steer students through four hours of crafting an extract beer and ingesting significant brewing concepts. Aspiring homebrewers learn to settle down yeast and barley for a midday nap in the mashtub, as well as how to perform simple troubleshooting should a batch end up tasting like lasagna. Winemaking classes help students study grapey elixirs on the journey from fermentation to sanitation to staining cashmere sweaters. Students can also round out their education with a mozzarella-making class and a one-hour coffee-roasting class, where they roast 1 pound of coffee.
After learning the tricks of the brewing trade, guests can stock up on the tools with DIY's extensive selection of wine and beer-making equipment. Homebrewers can create their own batches of booze with kegs, recipe lists, yeasts, and plenty of literature and books.