After enjoying a really satisfying visit to Mystic, despite chowing down on a delicacy that I hope to never have to ingest again, we headed off to the first of two breweries we had planned to visit: Cottrell Brewing Company. The fact that the brewery opens to visitors at 3:00PM afforded us the extra time in Mystic to find John's, but also endangered our chances of visiting the second brewery as it closed at 5:00PM and was about an hour's drive without traffic. But we'd cross that bridge when we got there. So off to Cottrell it was!
Still curious as to what the structure was we approached some groundskeepers and inquired as to its nature. We were told that it was a mausoleum that was built by Cottington Billings but was never used for its intended purpose. Cottington is buried in another part of the cemetery, but one of his descendants was cremated and his urn is inside. As you can see from the picture, the mausoleum is in need of repairs and they mentioned a group that was set up to raise money for the refurbishment, but I couldn't find anything on the internet about it when we returned home.
|Cottrell Brewing's "Front" Door|
|Drew at the sampling bar|
He took us in back where the nearly antique bottling line sat behind teetering stacks of empty cases. There was a fermenter encased in...something...Drew may have said, but I didn't catch it. There were also the more familiar stainless steel fermenters...four of them lined up against one wall another tank labeled "CARB". Guess what that's for. The place was dingy, the floor was less-than-spotless and detritus from the brewing process was here and there. This was a working brewery, run by someone who put stock in the end result of great beer. Okay, pretty good beer. Nothing really stood out about their Yankee Ale, Mystic Bridge IPA or their Summer Ale, but they were very drinkable. In many regards this place reminded me of Cricket Hill without the lovably lunatic owner. And who knows? If the owner had been there, he may have shown as much passion for brewing as Rick Reed.
The place was pretty small, but made good use of its space and it didn't take much time to complete the tour and down the samples. After nearly convincing the other tour participant to ditch his wife for the day and come into Newport with us to drink at the brewpub, we jumped in the car, turned onto Route 1 and took the bridge over into Rhode Island. Hmm, spellcheck claims that I have spelled "Rhode" wrong. Perhaps we should change the name of our smallest state to Road Island? Then again, spellcheck says that I've spelled "spellcheck" wrong.
|Their sign shows both businesses|
|I never asked if they used this tank|
|Their taps...I guess we got some out of bottles|
|Mike Rowe signed this shirt "Do not clean"|
There was a large window in the tasting room where you could look out over the brewery; we were too late for any guided tour. The brewery was all shiny, stainless steel and had floors clean enough to eat off of. Even the structure that housed everything looked like a brandy new prefab factory building. Their dock doors were big enough that their bright tanks could have been brought in upright. Everything about this place was clean, crisp and orderly. Quite a difference from Cottrell Brewing's leased out dock space. You've got a 50% chance of guessing which one I liked better, but those who know me know easily know the answer.
The beer was pretty good, but nothing really stood out except maybe the Thunderhead Red. Many of their beers had a lighter than expected body and weren't as fully flavored as the beers I tend to favor, but they were all pretty good. They are deservedly local favorites, but nothing I would really go out of my way to get. But sit me down at a bar with some of them on tap, then I'll be drinking one or two for sure.
I was very happy to have made it to both of the breweries in the area and now it was time for a brewpub, dinner and the sights of Newport, RI.
NEXT TIME: ROADTRIPPING - TRIP A, PART 3: MORE LOCAL R-to-the-I FLAVOR