Charter Oak Brewing Company

Charter Oak Brewing Company
New Canaan, Contract Brewed at Paper City Brewery, Holyoke, MA

Beer List:

1. 1687 Brown Ale, A
2. Abbey Dubbel
3. Kolsch
4. Porter
5. Royal Charter Pale Ale, B-
6. Sanford Tavern ESB
7. Stout
8. Wadsworth’s India Pale Ale, C

Charity One-Off: Chaz and AJ Beer, B


There are a few other Connecticut beers that bring our rich yankee history together with craft brewing. But this upstart little company out of the money pits of lower Fairfield County really puts our history front and center.

(The owner resides in New Canaan. Charter Oak doesn’t brew its own beer but rather contracts with Paper City up in Holyoke, MA. That’s why a) I don’t really know where the owner lives and b) it doesn’t even matter at all. I should also say that Charter Oak began as Nor’Easter Brewing but ran into issues during the licensing process because, and I’m paraphrasing, another local brewery trademarked the name or something. Charter Oak was very clear about being pissed off. I don’t know who is responsible, but Hooker has a Nor’Easter lager – but so does Captain Lawrence nearby in eastern New York.)

Paper City has a bit of a bad reputation in local beer geek circles; just churns out mediocre contract brews day and night. Several “Connecticut” beers are brewed up there and while none have wowed me, none have turned me off either. (And keep in mind, Charter Oak may one day contract elsewhere or even get an operation going of its own. This is a very changeable business.)

Like almost all contract brewers, the owner of this one claims he’s actively seeking a spot for his own brewery. In December 2012 on their facebook page he wrote, “We are currently not brewing in New Canaan but looking for a new site for our new brewery in Danbury, Norwalk, and Bridgeport. Hope to have a new brewery going within 2 years!” So we’ll see.

I will say that these guys play the social media game pretty well. It’s kind of tricky when you don’t have a physical brewery or a true face of the operation, you know? When you play this game, you just hope your beer speaks for itself.

And while it’s not really a game, per se, companies like Charter Oak also run into some thorny thickets when they write up their profiles on their websites. Like one of the proclamations is, “At Charter Oak, we have our barley and hops delivered right before we brew, then we mill our barley the day we brew for guaranteed freshness.”

Now, I have no reason not to believe that. They can tell Paper City EXACTLY how to brew their beer and I can only assume part of the contract could be to ensure absolute freshness. And these beers ain’t exactly cheap either, so this better be the case. (11 bucks for a six-pack of pale ale; I was thinking maybe we got the New Canaan prices up here by accident.)

The Charter Oak story is typical, but they are forced to used nuanced verbiage like, “Charter Oak Brewing Company LLC is a craft beer brewery which is the newest based Connecticut brewery…”

Oops the nuance got mixed up with word order there. Anyway, “Connecticut based” is different then, say, “Connecticut.” And I think this is probably the 11th brewery that claims to be Connecticut’s newest.” Which is great, because it means we get a new one every month it seems.

The brewer states that they will feature hand-crafted innovative beers such as Pale Ales, IPA’s, Brown Ales and several seasonal, more robust beers. “Our plan is to brew each style of our craft beers in small batches and do this on a frequent basis.”

I’m on board with that. (And here’s a hint: Their first beer, a brown ale, is really, really good. So take that Paper City haters.)

Charter Oak Brewing Company
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