Follow the ‘Beer Trail’ to find something new brewing

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Wed., Feb. 9, 2011
Case McClellan, of Olde Burnside Brewing Company, a micro-brewery that produces Scottish ales. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Case McClellan, of Olde Burnside Brewing Company, a micro-brewery that produces Scottish ales. Photos by Frances Taylor.

By this summer, Connecticut beer-lovers should find it easy to know what’s brewing when it comes to their favorite pastime, as "The Connecticut Beer Trail" may soon point the way to micro-breweries where the finest beers and ales are made.

A bill introduced in the state legislature by state Sen. Andrew M. Maynard (D - 18th District) and state Rep. Diana S. Urban (D - 43rd District) would establish an official "beer trail" in the state that would promote the state's micro-breweries and beer pubs. The bill was discussed during a public hearing on Feb. 7.

The Olde Burnside Brewing Company on Tolland Street will be one of the stops on the beer trail. “It would be just like the 'Wine Trail,' where people can come for tours of the brewery and sample the beer," said Bob McClellan, a third-generation owner of the company. His grandfather founded the Burnside Ice Company, which is still in operation, in 1911.

The brewery began 10 years ago, and specializes in Scottish ales, which can be found on draft in many bars and restaurants in the state. Ten Penny Ale and Dirty Penny Ale are their most popular brands.

"Ten Penny is a light Scottish Ale, probably our most popular," said Case McClellan, Bob’s son. “We also have Ten Penny Reserve, which is known as wee-heavy Scotch ale, and Amazing Grace is Scottish ale aged eight months in a whiskey barrel." 

The micro–brewery is tightly wedged into small rooms in the old brick ice house. The malted barley is dropped from a silo into a hopper, where it is crushed. From there, the "wort," as it is called, gets boiled at more than 200 degrees for two hours to break down the sugars. The mix is then drawn into the fermentation tanks, where it stays for two weeks.


"Our beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized," Case McClellan said. "That’s as fresh as it gets." 

The "Connecticut Beer Trail" was the brainchild of Chris Kepple, director of sales and marketing at Cottrell Brewing Company in Pawcatuck, Conn., which is the state’s oldest continuously operated brewery. Five breweries and 11 brew pubs will be a part of the trail, Kepple said.


If funds are allocated for the distribution of signs and other material to help visitors locate the breweries, the trail could be in operation by this summer.

“Connecticut is not well known for its beer, but our micro-breweries are gaining more notoriety all the time," she said. “We hope the trail will help people in Connecticut discover the breweries that are right in their own backyard, and that visitors to the state will see the trail as a destination."

For more information on the trail, visit the website 

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