Shad Derby Ale

Back East Shad Derby Ale
1 Growler, $9.00, ?% ABV

Purchased at the brewery, Bloomfield

shad derbyThat’s my son, Calvin, holding up a rat. He calls it a mouse, even though it’s clearly a rat. Although he’s a smart little kid, he refuses to accept the rodent reality.

I shouldn’t let it bother me, but as one who holds degrees in biology, it does. Not so much the fact that I studied biology, but just that I’m a trained scientist and trained scientists with our rational minds like things to be correct whenever things can be demonstrably correct.

He’ll learn someday. He’ll learn.

Perhaps he’ll also learn the nuances and intricacies of good beer. Just this past weekend when I said I was taking him and his brother to “a beer place,” he said, “but I can’t drink beer! I can drink beer when I get big, Papa?”

Yes, Calvin, but more importantly, you can learn about speciation and ichthyology and all the cool stuff I studied in college.

“Ick thee ahl ogee?”

“Yes, Calvin, that’s the study of fish.”

That got a big laugh for some reason. Three-year-olds are weird.

Back East says:

Bloomfield, CT – Back East Brewery will honor the Windsor Shad Derby Festival with Shad Derby Pale Ale, a new American Pale Ale brewed with Centennial hops.

Back East Brewery co-founder and Windsor resident Tony Karlowicz cites the Festival’s meaningful and long standing history in the area. “It’s the perfect match when you think of Back East and coming back home as the Festival always takes place every May in Windsor”.

Windsor Shad Fest Bureau President John Jary agrees with Karlowicz adding that “the volunteers and civic organizations involved in the Shad Derby Festival are truly humbled by this honor from Back East Brewery” and look forward to seeing the Shad Derby Pale Ale in the area.

Karlowicz also notes that a portion of the proceeds will benefit “Windsor’s Most Beloved Festival”…

Cool. While it’s nothing novel for local breweries to name a special release in honor of something hyper-local, it’s still always a fun thing.

CaptureThe American shad is Connecticut’s state fish and heck, there is even a Shad Museum down in Haddam. I enjoyed a visit there a few years ago. And the Shad Derby in Windsor is a bid deal… in Windsor anyway.

One of the Shad Derby traditions is the crowning of the Shad Derby Queen. Each entrant is sponsored by a local Windsor business and as this picture can attest to, that results in some funny (when taken out-of-context) pictures on my website.

(If you’re confused why a brewery located in Bloomfield cares about an event in Winsdor, don’t be. One can drive from the brewery to the Shad Derby grounds in about 12 minutes.)

The beer? Eh, the beer was okay. It didn’t make me want to seek it out during its short run around the Bloomfield/Windsor area, but I enjoyed my growler of it. Definitely bitter with a Centennial hop bite. Very dry, but also very drinkable.

As Back East finds their niche in the suddenly crowded Connecticut marketplace, I encourage them to continue with these limited releases – especially ones that are tied into locally important events like the Shad Derby.

Back East has had a run of hoppy beers that have sort of stuck to what American hoppy beers successfully were over the last decade. Piney, bitter, hoppy but smooth and flavorful.

And I appreciate that, even as my tastes have gravitated towards the more floral and citussy IPA’s and APA’s. And of course, like the shad itself, those in-demand citrus-bomb hops are elusive and difficult to come by these days.

So keep doing what you’re doing, Back East, I appreciate it. And you keep doing what you’re doing, Shad Derby people – local traditions are important.

But YOU, Calvin, YOU must learn your Mus musculus from your Rattus norvegicus. It’s really not that hard.

Overall Rating: B-
Rating vs. Similar style: C

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