Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Veracious Brewing Company

My wife and a few of my friends headed up to the Veracious Brewing Company over the weekend to celebrate my and my buddy Colin’s birthdays.  We’re both beer geeks, but I dare say that Colin has a few levels on me in this specific genre of geekdom.  Nevertheless, we all had Hell of a good time.
This sign is painted above the vats inside Veracious's brewery.
Veracious is a great little place.  Located in Monroe, Connecticut, it’s the kind of small, truly artisanal craft brewery that you think you’re going to find every time you head out for a craft brew tour.  But where a lot of craft breweries have only a few kinds of beers and maybe one or two signature mainstays, Veracious carries more than a dozen.  They do everything, often with multiple variations on a theme.  In an increasingly crowded marketplace, this is a unique and enjoyable approach.
As I told my buddy Colin, Veracious doesn’t just make beer.  At a certain level, they make art.
The taproom.
Elizabeth, Sally, and Colin talk beer during the tour.  Note the tasting glasses.
None of this would have been possible a few years ago.  Prior to Two Roads Brewery opening in Stratford, the state of Connecticut had some of the unfriendliest craft brew laws in the entire nation.  In fact, despite having median income well above the national average, Connecticut ranked dead last in craft beer sales just five years ago.  Fortunately, Two Roads lobbied Hartford to change the laws, allowing tasting rooms inside breweries and liberalizing small scale distribution practices.  As a result, we’re now in the midst of a growing craft beer revolution.  
Veracious’s owner is a perfect example of the new trend.  Tess and Mark Szamatulski are longtime home brew supply store owners and the authors of several books on home brewing.  They were therefore uniquely suited to expand their business once the laws changed.  Where before Mark was brewing beer in fifty gallon batches, mostly to support his homebrew supply business, now he can brew in three hundred gallon vats and sell to restaurants and bars locally and in some of the neighboring towns.  Thanks to liberalization, the Szamatulskis are now practicing craft brewers with a slowly expanding customer base.  In the long run, this is good for everybody.
It’s this home brew background that makes Veracious such an interesting experience.  As I said, most craft breweries offer a few high quality large-batch mainstays alongside a small cast of rotating seasonals added for variety.  At Veracious, though, beer is art.  Mark is a true beer brewing explorer who possesses both the patience and the expertise to develop truly creative new ideas.  What this means in practice is that Veracious has at least thirteen beers on tap most nights, with no particular through line, though Mark seems to have a thing for citrus-flavored IPAs.  The night we went, there were something like five IPAs, a Belgian tripel, a couple of stouts, at least one pilsner, and a couple of beers that were variations on the idea of an old-style English Ale.  In the back, Mark had a totally unique Maple IPA that he hadn’t quite perfected just yet sitting in one of his development vats.  
Vats making beer.

We got nowhere near trying everything, but we gave it a decent shot.
Veracious’s brewery tour is $10, and it comes with either a half-pint or two 4 oz. tasters.  During the tour, Mark explained his process, introduced us to his brewdogs, and gave us a couple of hits from his experimental batches, including the Maple IPA I mentioned.  That thing promises to be a game-changer.  Afterwards we went back out to the main room, grabbed one of the long tables, and drank beer—a highly enjoyable evening in every sense of the word.
Veracious Brewery isn’t exactly convenient to Manhattan, but getting there is not overly difficult.  Take I-95 north to exit 27A and then hit CT 25 north for maybe thirty minutes.  The parkway becomes a local road after maybe fifteen miles.  Another five minutes or so, and you’ll arrive in the little town of Monroe.  Veracious is at 246 Main Street, which is technically still CT 25, but at this point it’s also the main drag through town.  If you’re heading north, Veracious is on your right.  It’s not super well-marked, but you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the large blue “V” over the door, which is flanked by small stone lions on either side.
We drove past it once before we actually found the place.
Granted, this is kind of a trek.  However, if you really like beer, it’s more than worth the effort.
Last thing to know is that you will want to take an empty growler or two with you when you go.  Veracious sells beer in the tap room, and they sell kegs, growlers, and half-growlers.  However, they don’t bottle as yet, so you can’t just walk away with a six-pack.  I’m sure that bottles will come in time, but as of this writing, the brewery is just a year old, and they don’t yet distribute bottles or cans.

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