What: With some breweries and brewpubs in town and a bunch more in the region, plus a handful of quality beer bars, New Haven has a burgeoning local-craft-beer scene. Even just a few years ago there was little beer produced in New Haven itself—that's all changed now with the opening of East Rock Brewing Company, Nolo, and others. A short drive away are plenty more options, the beers of which permeate the bars of New Haven. (Chief among them is New England Brewing Co. (or NEBCo), based out of nearby Woodbridge, about 15 minutes away.) End result? It's exceedingly easy to drink local in New Haven.
Where: Elsewhere we call attention to its creative New Haven-style pizza, but the Brü Room at Bar (254 Crown St., map)—the decidedly lower-key sister to Bar the nightclub—is just as much known for its house-brewed beers, the first suds produced in New Haven in recent decades. Not coincidentally, the beers and the pizza pair together perfectly.
When: Mon-Tues, 4pm-1am; Wed-Sun, 11:30am-1am
Order: The bar usually pours its four signature beers—Toasted Blonde, AmBar Ale, Pale Ale, Damn Good Stout—and one seasonal, so your best bet is to start with a sampler flight ($8.50) and see what you like. We most enjoyed the crisp, refreshing pale ale and malty, full-bodied stout, but the rotating specialty ales are often worthy too—in the past they’ve included an Indian dark ale, an espresso stout, and good American IPAs. Helpfully, you can order beers as half pints, pints, or pitchers ($15). Ask if head brewer Jeff Browning is around if you want to talk beer, or get spot-on recommendations for beer-pizza pairings.
Alternatively: The spacious, family-friendly East Rock Brewing Company and Beer Hall (285 Nicoll St., map) is a great bet, as are the city's craft beer bars. Among the best of those is Prime 16 (172 Temple St., map) downtown, which usually carries some New England Brewing Co. on its 20 rotating taps, alongside a host of other craft brews from the Northeast. Stop in on Mondays for half-off draft beers at happy hour. Lounge-y pub The Cask Republic (179 Crown St., map) is another sure bet for a few NEBCo beers—that is, among its 53 taps, one cask, and 80-plus bottles, all quality craft brews from the U.S. and Europe, including Belgians. Of course, you can also drive out to the taproom of New England Brewing Co.’s brewery (175 Amity Rd., Woodbridge, map) or Center Street Brewing Co. (24 Wallace Ave., map) in nearby Wallingford for a wider selection of area beers at their source.