Top Shelf Brewing Company Beers

Top Shelf Brewing Company Beers


Beer List:

American Ale, F
Belgian Ale, C-
Holiday Cheer Porter, D-
Honey Smack Pale Ale (Limited Release), C+
Irish Ale, A-
Marathon IPA, F
Smoked Belgian (Limited release) , F
Snowed In Imperial Stout, D+
Village Charm IPA


My 2013 visit to the brewery here.

In the middle of the insanity that was “New Brewery-Palooza” in Connecticut in 2013, a small one opened up in a dilapidated old mill on Hilliard Street in Manchester. Top Shelf’s social media savvy was on display in the lead up to their grand opening and I was certainly intrigued.

I missed the grand opening, but did make it over there shortly thereafter when they released their first “limited” beer, their smoked Belgian. After I tried a few of their beers I started asking around about Top Shelf.

It seems that their initial roll out of such straight-forward styles as American, Irish and Belgian ales turned people off. But hey, if the beer was well-crafted, I have no issue with that at all. (I got in a few arguments about this.) Unfortunately, at least at the outset, Top Shelf had some struggles. An infected batch of beer early on which I did not have… I think. But over time, I returned and tried some more and while it’s clear the boys in Manchester are still getting their feet wet, things seem to be improving over there.


The tap room is nice and the free samples are ample. (Perhaps too ample guys, you’re giving away too much. Relic did this for the first several months and lo, I remember a day when Hooker did it as well.) I should also note that I find the business model interesting in that Top Shelf bottles everything. Bottling is expensive as hell (relatively). I like it for my doofy pictures, but that’s just me.

Anyway, my point here is that the grades you see above are often from very early batches of Top Shelf beers. So the question is, is that fair?

And that’s a good question. I am anything but professional, so it doesn’t bother me at all. I know “real” restaurant reviewers give each place a few tries and never really in the first month. Good for them. I’m a busy father of two and get to breweries when I can.

But there is a rather stern school of thought that a brewery should only release beers when the beers are ready to be released. To be blunt, Top Shelf didn’t wait. (And they are not alone in this in New Connecticut Brewery-Palooza, unfortunately.)

Top Shelf Brewing Company
My 2013 visit to the brewery here.
CTMQ Drinks Every CT Beer

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