Showcasing over 60 breweries, the annual Elm City Brew Festival at College Street Music Hall packed the house with all sorts of unique craft beers and ciders. College Street Music Hall is a 1926 theater in New Haven that hosts a variety of live music, however, on November 4th this spacious music venue transformed into a craft beer paradise. With unique brews from breweries across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and more, Elm City Brew Festival was a great event for discovering what’s up-and-coming in the New England craft beer scene.

Perfect for both craft beer aficionados and newbies, at the Elm City Brew Festival, you could sample over 225 unique brews, jam out to live music and strike up an interesting conversation with reps, brewers, and artisans.


Elm City Brew Festival


How It Works

Throughout the four-hour event, enjoy unlimited samples in small taster-sized plastic cups. And if for some reason you weren’t feeling a particular beer or cider, toss it out. Small dump buckets were conveniently located at every booth.

Since there was no pressure to stick to a particular sample, this made the $40 admission (in advance) an incredible value. Hands down, Elm City Brew Festival was the kind of beer festival where you could try lots of craft beer but also focus on the ones you loved.

Elm City Brew Festival

Photo by Alex Syphers 


Favorite Beers

Although I usually go for ales and lagers, at the festival, I tried all sorts of IPAs, stouts, porters and seasonal hybrid styles, many of which I had never heard of. Feeling super adventurous, I even tried a chili-infused beer!

To keep track of the beers that left a lasting impression, I kept a running list. I’ve been stocking my fridge with these new flavors ever since.

Winter Blend by Down East Cider House (MA) is one the new ciders that I discovered at the festival. Winter Blend is a delicious apple cider flavored with toasted oak chips, cinnamon bark, and nutmeg. Another new favorite is New Belgium’s Fat Tire. The Fat Tire is an Ameri-Belgo style ale that perfectly blends fresh herbal hops and malt. Big Elm Brewing (MA) Farmhouse Ale and McKenzie’s Hard Cider (NY) are also on my list.


Live Music

In addition to the beer and cider, two local bands graced College Street Music Hall’s stage, The Penniless Wild and Tuesday Saints.

Tuesday Saints impressed me with their soulful folk-rock sound as well as Nanette Addesso’s (vocals, fiddle, and acoustic guitar) fiddle skills.

I’m still not sure how she moved her hands so fast!


Final Thoughts

Elm City Brew Festival

Photo by Alex Syphers 

Since this was my first time attending a beer festival, I didn’t really know what to expect but I’m so happy that I had the chance to check it out. Everyone was so friendly and another attendee even gifted me his decorative pretzel necklace.

Overall I had so much fun discovering all sorts of craft beers and ciders brewed in New England and beyond and I can’t wait to attend next year’s annual event. As a memento, I now have an Elm City Brew Festival beer cup to add to my growing collection! Cheers!

Elm City Brew Festival

Photo by Alex Syphers 


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