CK Ale

CK Ale
One pint, $5.50, 5% ABV

Purchased at Carbone’s Kitchen, Bloomfield

ckCelebratory work lunch. Tired of the usual Windsor spots. Branch out to Bloomfield.

Bloomfield? Like, ”downtown” Bloomfied?! Yeah, that’s right, downtown Bloomfield. There is good Thai at Thai Palace and good sushi at Ginza and upscale pub food at RePUBlic, but we’d done all of them. We had not eaten at the newest addition to the scene – Carbone’s Kitchen.

Carbone’s in Hartford is an institution; the kind of old school Italian restaurant where the old guy in a bowtie mixes your Caesar salad tableside… with a flourish! (And a price tag to match that flourish.) I applaud the brain trust behind Carbone’s for opening this slightly downscaled Carbone’s in the outpost of Bloomfield. It was a risk and who knows how it will pan out, but here’s hoping for the best. (Our food was very good.)

While there I noticed three things with regards to their tap selection: One, they misspelled Guinness on the chalkboard. Eh, they’re Italians, whattryougonnado? Two, there is a definite focus on the hyperlocal, with four lines dedicated to Bloomfield’s own Hooker and Back East Brewing companies. Cool.

And three, one of those Back East lines was pouring something called CK Ale. Yes! For me, finding these local private label beers is always a coup. Who knows how many there are around the state? I don’t, but finding them is like finding a Easter Egg in a video game. I’ve put calls out onto Twitter asking for intel, but no one ever responds. Woe is me.

I stopped by one random day after work to have one and… and the bar was packed. Nowhere to sit. I took this as a great sign for the restaurant and returned one day for lunch. My food was great and my CK Ale was served in what appeared to be an Imperial pint. TWENTY ounces! In Bloomfield, Connecticut, not on Bloomsday in Dublin!

James Joyce international referential joke! CTMQ, everybody, how does he do it?

Carbone’s Kitchen says:

An amber ale brewed locally by Back East Brewing especially for us.

I always enjoy the faux hubris of these privately labeled beers. They all have it. “For us.” Aren’t they special? As it turns out, no, not really. The CK Ale is, of course, Back East’s regular old amber ale. Which isn’t to say it’s not good, for it is.

Back East says:

Our Flagship offering, Back East Ale is a medium-bodied amber ale. This amber-colored beer features a subtle fruity aroma with hints of vanilla and peach. It has a smooth malt character that is nicely balanced with just a slight hop bitterness and a clean, crisp finish. Once you taste this favorite, we’re sure you’ll be reaching for another “Back East”!

kate_calvin_729-420x0Okay, I don’t really know if it’s the same exact beer. But I’d be surprised if it’s not. At the restaurant, it costs the same as the other Back East on tap, if that offers a further clue.

It’s a solid amber ale. It has all the elements you’d expect and while I didn’t really pick up on any vanilla or peach (perhaps because the CK brew is actually a different non-vanilla, non-peachy brew), the malt/hop balance is nice and at 5% ABV, it’s quite drinkable.

Even if I got a lot of it. Or not.

The glasses at CK are odd. They appear to be cheater imperial pints. This is still quite remarkable in today’s marketplace, since it seems at least two-thirds of bars and restaurants serve “pints” that are 14 ounces.

Which is demonstrably not a pint. A pint is a unit of measurement. It is 16 ounces. That’s an eighth of a gallon. A half of a quart. What would happen if you bought a gallon of milk but only got 7/8 of a gallon? You’d flip out, right? So why do we blithely go about drinking our 14 ounce cheater pints?

If you’re curious about this, next time you order a pint of beer, check the bottom of your glass. Is it a little thick? Like a half an inch thick? The optics of liquid in a dark bar make this trickier to notice than you’d think. If it is, that’s called a “falsie” or a “cheater” and it’s actually only 14 ounces. Account for the foam and you’re maybe only getting 12 ounces of beer.

I know, right? Here’s an old (2008), but good article about the issue.

Some states have actually enacted laws – Michigan, for example, must serve real pints if they are calling them pints. (Fancy that!) Here in Connecticut, we’re all over the place. Some higher-end restaurants now serve as small as 10 or 12 ounces for higher alcohol beers – while charging seven or eight bucks.

Then there’s J. Timothy’s in Plainville (as one example I’m familiar with) which actually serves beer in 19 ounce (!) mugs for any beer below 7.5% ABV, while charging the same price for top notch craft beer as other places charge for 12 or 14 ounces of the same beer. It’s craziness.

Hell, I just had dinner at a super high-falutin’ West Hartford center place and ordered a Saison DuPont bottle for $9, figuring it had to be the 16 ounce bottles of it I’ve seen. Nope, somehow they had 12 ounce bottles of Sai-freaking-son DuPont. For 9 bucks.

But back to Carbone’s Kitchen, my pint was full and large and most likely not an Imperial pint, which is 20 ounces – because look at the thick glass at the bottom in my picture. So what if it was only a pint pint – still better than the majority of places out there.

Conclusion: English measurements are asinine. Support local breweries. Stop saying “like” so much. Don’t text and drive. And please, if you know of any other private label beers in Connecticut, let me know.


Overall Rating: B+
Rating vs. Similar style: A-

Back East Brewing
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