After water and tea, beer is the most popular drink in the world, so it is fitting that Fairfield County offers a wide selection of both beers and settings, from the cozy pub where a pint of draught ale will transport you to the UK, to the sleek state-of-the art microbrewery where each batch is hand crafted by the brew master.
With its extra long, vintage wooden bar rumored to have belonged to August Busch and to have been transported from his St. Louis home to Connecticut, The Goose, is both as popular a destination for great food as it is for its wide selection of beers.
Around the corner from the Community Movie Theater is Fairfield’s Old Post Tavern, where the bar reflects the owner’s appreciation of history. The centerpiece of the décor is a cheerful mural depicting an earlier era, and the walls are adorned with vintage local black and white photos.
Mark your calendars for Old Post Tavern’s Octoberfest and beer tasting event on Thursday, Oct. 20th.
Just opposite the train station, commuters and shoppers alike can relax with a beer in MacDuff’s Public House. According to manager Maria Barannikova, “People walk through the doors and our pub-like atmosphere conjures up the desire for a Guinness.” MacDuff’s has six beers on draught and numerous bottled imports. To complete the British pub experience, you can order “potato and farmhouse cheddar pasties” or “toasties” served with homemade crisps.
Situated the edge of downtown New Canaan, Cherry Street East Café, long a favorite hangout for locals who come back again and again for the burgers and good beer list.
In downtown SoNo, O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant does a nice job recreating the Irish pub experience and boasts thirteen beers on tap. The three owners, who hail from Tipperary in Ireland, have been in business in SoNo for 13 years, but moved to their new and much improved location at 93 North Main Street three years ago. With its extra long bar, ample parking for patrons around back, and the soothing authentic Irish accents of the owners, O’Neill’s is a great destination to relax with a pint.
According to co-owner Donal Leahy, Guinness is the most popular choice of his customers, but Smithwick’s Ale from Ireland, which boasts a 300-year history, is also a popular choice.
At the Lumberyard Pub, owners Sandy and Mike Sutila offer nine active beer taps on any given day, while 75 other taps are displayed over the bar and rotated regularly into the mix. “Our customers don’t ask what’s on draught this week. They ask what is there today?” said owner, Mike Sutila.
Lumberyard Pub is decorated with antiques, including wooden mallets from the lumberyard that was originally on the property, as well as an enormous oak refrigerator from first market in Georgetown. Sutila himself is a history buff and Revolutionary War re-enactor who travels throughout the south with his uniform and replica musket, though the musket displayed over the bar is authentic.
Around the corner on historic Main Street, Georgetown Saloon sits among the row of restored building facades. Step beyond the hitching posts and through the swinging saloon doors and you’ll find patrons enjoying a draught beer and a hot meal at the bar.
Head north on Route 7 toward Danbury, and you’ll spot Little Pub on the corner of Branchville Road. Established in 2009, the building itself harkens to another era.
Open seven days a week, the restaurant fare is comfort food all the way, and the bar features lagers, ales, stouts and ciders. There are four staples always on tap – Guinness Stout, Bass Ale, Stella Artois lager, and Palm Speciale Belge Amber – plus a rotating “mystery” tap for variety. The beer list, which fills an entire page on the menu, features craft bottles and cans, hard ciders, imports and 22 oz bombers with names like “Rogue Dead Guy Ale” and “Stone Arrogant Bastard.” Now that sounds like a challenge.
At Coasters Tap and Grill, located in Shelton Square Plaza, parking is easy and general manager, Ron Finizio, makes guests at the cozy wrap-around bar feel welcome. On the August afternoon Patch visited, the ten microbrews on tap included Elm City Lager, sourced locally from the Woodbridge-based New England Brewing Company.
At SBC Restaurant and Brewery, batches of beer move through tubes and into various tanks during stages of the brewing process. At Fairfield County’s lone microbrewery, the saying goes, “Who needs a ‘born-on’ date when you’re drinking in the delivery room.” Indeed, only the barley and ingredients are delivered to SBC, where Frank DelGreco has the distinction of being the only master brewer in Fairfield County. “Ours is the freshest beer you can get in the county,” claimed DelGreco as he checked on his steaming mix of barley and water, or wort, the sweet unfermented liquid that through the brewer's skills transforms into beer.
The day Patch visited, DelGreco was in the process of brewing Octoberfest. “My job is a one-batch-a-day, and a seven-hour to eight-hour process,” he explained. “The blondes, especially summer hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer, have been popular all summer. But with fall coming, the beers get darker.”
Bobby Q’s Bodacious BBQ and Grill on Main Street, known for delicious pit-smoked barbecue, also boasts an enormous rooftop beer garden. Owner, Bob Lerose, summarized the draw of Bobby Q’s succinctly: “You take our great selection of draught beer, add outdoor live music in the beer garden, and you have a winning combination.” A list of live rooftop entertainment is available at bobbyqsrestaurant.com
While a sliver of August remains on the calendar, treat yourself to a summer wheat beer, a blond as they say in brew master’s parlance. If you dilly-dally, it’ll be Octoberfest before you know it.