When your GPS device kindly states “You have arrived at your destination,” you normally can look at your surroundings and identify that you have, in fact, landed where you belong. In this instance, however, sometimes you may not know that you have. The Velvet Mill is a cavernous structure that clearly looks like it had been abandoned at one point for a sizeable window of time.
Now, vehicles are vying for parking spaces and crowds are flocking to the previously unoccupied building as they seek visiting flourishing businesses such as artists, bakeries, a glass blower, fiber artists, screen printers, and in this instance, a phenomenal brewery - Beer’d.
Currently in its third year, Beer’d has been in a continual state of growth since its inception. Led by its two founders - Aaron Simoncini & Precious Putnam, a husband and wife duo who have poured their time, effort, sweat, and love into their products and their guest experience ceaselessly since the brewery was young and they still had “day jobs.” They now have a gaggle of enthusiastic young staff members who assist with explaining the qualities of their current beer offerings, provide samples to guests, fill growlers for taking home and pints for enjoying while at the brewery.
In addition to having, on average, five types of beers on tap, the brewery has held numerous events to engage with their loyal customers and introduce patrons to new styles of beer or partnerships with other local businesses. We were privileged to have an opportunity to participate in a recent “Bottle Release,” which occurred on Thursday, January 28th. There are quite a few reasons why this event was so special. First, Beer’d normally shares its beer by filling growlers for folks to take home. They do not sell canned or smaller bottles of their beer, nor is the beer currently available in stores. Offering bottled beer was a first for them, and I’m sure it was exciting! Additionally, this Russian Imperial Stout was bottled after having spent some quality time wine barrels that had previously housed port wine for Jonathan Edwards Winery, located in Pawcatuck, Connecticut.
A limited supply of bottles were made available and their labels were individually numbered. We have bottle 123, which I thought was kind of fun! The beer is titled “Roulette,” as in Russian Roulette and features colorful drawings of Russian nesting dolls on the label. We arrived an hour before the doors were scheduled to open, Yoda in tow, and were greeted by a line of excited Beer’d enthusiasts (many of whom took time off of work to be there, shhh...don’t tell their bosses)! While the line continued to grow, we were offered the opportunity to enjoy a pint of “Hobbit Juice,” which had been in a cask with raspberries. “Hobbit Juice” is a Double IPA with fresh citrus undertones and a crisp bitter finish. The tartness of the raspberries complimented the citrus and made it incredibly easy to drink.
The hour wait flew as we made friends with our line neighbors, all of whom took an opportunity to smooooosh Yoda’s face and remark on their own dogs and how much they love them. WIth a flick, smartphones were revealed and we were given a slideshow of cute pup photos accompanied by tales of silly antics. We realized that dogs and beer have a lot in common, in that folks are very enthusiastic about sharing their love for both!
Now, let’s talk about the beer of the hour, “Roulette.” When asked how the characteristics of the beer changed after having been barrel aged, the brewers replied that quite a few changes take place. The most notable changes include a fuller mouthfeel and a mellow final product that seems “more round around the edges.” Additionally, tannins from the barrel will have also contributed to the final taste. Tannins often contribute to the feeling of tightness on the insides of your cheeks and back of your tongue when you’re drinking wine, more notably red wines, and it originates from the wood used to barrel the liquid in its fermentation process. The same tannins influenced the taste of “Roulette” in a similar manner. After having tried the beer, we would describe a velvety mouthfeel that marries the coffee and roasted essence of the stout with the bitterness of the tannins. It’s very smooth and drinkable, even considering its high ABV 8.5%. While we recognize this bottling was a limited run, we’re hopeful Beer’d will decide to offer additional barrel aged beers in their future offerings.
Speaking of the future, Beer’d is continuing to grow to the point where they may need to be housed in a larger location in the future! We’re excited for all the future has in store for them and look forward to continue supporting them in their next adventures. Cheers!
If you’re in southeastern Connecticut, a visit to Beer’d should be on your to-do list. They currently offer growler fills and pint fills (they also serve red & white wine from a local winery). Their facebook page and website announce upcoming events, hour changes, and brews in the works. They are typically open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.