I was in West Haven working on Friday, and had the afternoon free, so I decided to head on over to SBC Branford, which is on the way home. For those of you who don't know and don't want to spend a while reading the link, SBC is a chain brewpub in CT, with four locations all along the rich western CT shoreline. Cool idea! They have a steady stable of about 9 beers with a seasonal in there, too. Normally I think of brewpubs as having a constantly rotating offering of beers, but this has the same nine all the time.
I got the sampler. I had never been there, and to get the most experience for my time, I decided the sampler was the way to go. I am glad I did, so I could get as much as possible. I will post here my opinion on the beers I tried. Keep in mind that it is easy to criticize beers, and that all the beers I had were better than anything I would expect to have at any other bar (that is, I would rather have any of them than a Sam Adams, etc.)
I had the Pilsner, IPA, English Pale Ale, Stout, and Oktoberfest. From now on in the post, I will call the English Pale Ale a "Bitter". First the pilsner. It was good. It was a bit corn-sugary, but light and smooth with a mild hop bite. A bit more of a heavy mouthfeel/body than advertised, but very solid all around. The IPA was weak to me. It had a strong floral hop aroma, as advertised, but little hop flavor (although as it warmed, or as the session went on, the hop flavor became more evident). The weird thing was the hop aroma was the same as the Oktoberfest. Now I can understand that they use the hops they have, but this just sort of left me unsettled. Anyway. The Bitter was my favorite of the batch. It was a really dry and hoppy Burton-on-Trent ESB beer, and it was great. I would recommend it to all the hopheads out there. The stout was a bit of a let down. I am used to the oatmeal stout I made, which is real smooth. This was a bit less smooth and a bit more watery. Just sort of blah, and not memorable. Finally the Oktoberfest. It was OK, but nothing spectacular. I can't really complain about it in any specific way, but it wasn't astounding. Unfortunately, it was really hard to get any aroma on any of these, since they were all served in essentially shooters - tall and narrow maybe 3-ounce glasses. I think aroma might have really helped some of the ones I didn't favor. And again, they're all more fun than what you can get at 90% of the restaurants out there. But I would still recommend the Saltonstall English Pale Ale (really an ESB, or even a British IPA) of all the ones I had. Of course when I go back there, I'll try the ones I haven't had yet: Porter, Red, Fruit, Light, Blonde, maybe something else.
Perhaps the stangest thing to me was that I saw three different guys there drinking absolute crap - Corona bottle, Bud Light bottle (or similar), and Miller Lite draft. Why would you go to a brewpub to drink that? Maybe it was because the food was awesome!
I got the turkey burger, with the fries upgrade. The fries were well worth $0.99 extra - among the best I've had - big, flat, and crispy, but still not too crisp. The burger was great too - I didn't even use ketchup on it! Reasonable burger size, nice soft roll, great caramelized onion mayo mix on top. I am almost looking more forward to the food next time rather than the beer. Hmm...