At City Steam Brewery Cafe, the owners concoct some of the area’s finest beers, scoring “best of” awards from Hartford magazine and Connecticut Magazine. They also brew potent batches of laughter inside their 200-seat comedy show-room theater. Ensconced in the historic Brown Thomson and Co. building, which was the state’s largest department store in 1877, Brew Ha Ha once was known as the Last Laugh Comedy Club, where fledgling unknowns such as Ray Romano and Kevin James vied for laughs in the smoky rathskeller of a restaurant.
Reborn in 1997 under a new moniker, the standup speakeasy keeps its calendar packed with nationally touring comics and local joke slingers. During shows, guests can toast with mugs of handcrafted beer and make edible sculptures of their favorite comedian using menu’s custom burgers, pizzas, and omelets.
For more than 90 years, the same soft morning sunlight has poured over the fields of yellow sunflowers, tasseled stalks of sweet corn, and rows of grapevines growing at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards. In that span of time, five generations of Rosedales have tended to the farm’s fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers, sharing them with the Simsbury community and even earning a nod in the Washington Post. It wasn’t until 2005, however, that the family produced its first vintage from its 4-acre vineyard of French hybrid grapes. Since then, the winery’s estate-grown vintages have earned several awards, including a double gold at the 2010 Vineyard & Winery International Eastern Wine Competition. Today, at the winery’s onsite bar, staff members pour samples of varieties such as the Simsbury Celebration, which distinguishes itself with a creamy structure, mineral overtones, and a penchant for hiding beneath lampshades. Additional events include fall farm fests that include free hayrides and corn mazes. Partnering with the Max Restaurant Group, Rosedale Farms & Vineyards also features chef-to-farm dinners, during which chefs prepare four- to six-course banquets using ingredients plucked straight from the fields.
Southampton's cup currently runneth over with awards, so grab a menu and cleverly place your mouth beneath its cornucopic outflux. Start lunch, dinner, or High Beer with an appetizing cup of New England clam chowder or potato ale soup with bacon and cheddar ($5 each), before hitting the pub favorites. Wrap your lips around a tall, frosty mug full of the brewer's burger and french fries ($9, add cheese, sautéed onions, bacon, or mushrooms for $0.75 each) or a crispy order of lager-dipped fish and chips ($14 lunch, $18 for a dinner portion). For a hearty pub dinner, pair a flounder stuffed with crabmeat ($22) and side of sweet potato fries ($6), crushing your appetite beneath the sheer weight of flavor. Check the on tap menu for a saliva-stimulating selection of micro-brewed beers, ales, and Olympian ambrosias, or ask your server to recommend the best pairing for your entree, your complexion, or the beer you just had 12 seconds ago.
Presented by Valley Discount Wine & Liquor, Hoptoberfest lets taste buds loose on a bounty of frothy pours. As many as 130 beers and a smattering of spirits anoint tasting glasses, letting beer connoisseurs expand their palates wider than that of a whale sommelier. A selection of food complements the diverse brews, and attendees can sit and listen or get up and groove while live bands electrify the air with popular tunes. All proceeds from the festival benefit the Seymour Ambulance Association and Ansonia Civil Defense Rescue Association.
Inside Cork & Brew, a husband-and-wife team infects customers with their passion for brewing, judging, and, of course, drinking wines and beers. Primarily, they hope to de-mystify home brewing and winemaking with classes, winemaking parties, and even homebrew get-togethers at a residence or office. They stock all the necessary equipment, including fresh hops, grain, and malt, as well as wine must from all over the world. The duo’s hookup with a custom-labeling source allows their clients to brighten up bottles before giving them away as gifts, displaying them on wine racks, or using them to christen newly-purchased ocean liners. Guests also may mingle through the newly opened banquet and party facility, which hosts soirees of 10–80 people.