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Eli Cannon's Taproom & Thomas Hooker Brew Excellence

A run down of the new beer brewed by Eli Cannon's staff at Thomas Hooker Brewing Co.

Re-posted from my blog: Malted Musings.

When patrons come into Eli Cannon's Tap Room in Middletown, CT, on the 12th they will find, among the already impressive list of beer available, Eli Cannon's 19th Anniversary Ale (tentatively called "EC9teen"). While it may be obvious that a major beer bar should have its own house-beer, what may be surprising (indeed, even impressive) is that this beer was brewed by none other than Eli Cannon's bar manager JD Crandall, with a whole crew of Eli's employees, at the famous Thomas Hooker Brewing Company.

Although JD regularly carries Hooker's beer in the bar, this is his first joint-brewing operation with local favorite. For the anniversary beer last year JD essentially made the recipe and established the framework for the Eli Cannon's Anniversary beer himself, but the beer itself was made off site by a different brewery. This year, however, JD wanted to get hands on and personally brew the entire batch himself at a local brewery. After some back and forth with the brewery reps, Hooker was eager to help the Eli Cannon's crew brew up a batch of beer to celebrate the bar's 19th anniversary.

JD assures me that this was the real deal: no touristy brewery tour here! After settling on a final product and setting a date, JD took a bunch of Eli Cannon's staff over to the Hooker brewery and essentially brewed the entire batch themselves. Watched over Steve Andrews (one of the brewers at Hooker), JD and company set out the arduous (yet extremely rewarding) task of making a full production run of beer. They dealt with palates of malts and pounds of hops.

They raked out the mash (basically the beer ingredients all slammed together in a gooey mass) with huge rakes. They checked all the readings, measured sugars, and tested gravity levels many, many times as they kept a close eye on the beer. The event took the entire day when all was said and done, but they received the real brew-house experience: all of the hard labor and careful measurements were actually done by the hands of the Eli Cannon's staffers.

Thomas Hooker was extremely accommodating, JD says. They wanted the Eli Cannon's crew to not only have a good time, but to have a authentic brewing experience. This wasn't a process where they let them just drop in a bag or two of hops, or get to take a look at some of the equipment: Hooker's guys just provided oversight as JD and company did all the work. Though JD has been a home-brewer for many years, he has never had the chance to be fully involved in constructing a batch of production beer like this.

The entire process was very intricate and, because they went through the entire ordeal, the Eli Cannon's crew now has a much greater appreciation for what goes into making beer. JD says that he is glad that the team can see what goes into beer: Eli's is one of the biggest beer bars in the state and this will provide the staff of Eli's a deeper understanding of the beer they sell.

This puts JD in an interesting position as he now is committed to buying the entire run of beer that they made. He is fine with this though, saying that they put the stamp of Eli Cannon's on the beer. "We got our fingerprints all over this," JD said with a smile. The staff made all of the beer themselves so it is something that they (the staff) can take pride in, and this should make selling the beer an enjoyable experience.

Hooker made sure that all the ingredients were ready to go for EC9teen, even going as far as ordering out some of the components that were harder to get. As for the style, JD is took his cues from session beers, aiming for the overall style of the American Pale Ale (at around 5.1%).  It is going to use British malting, striving to remain on the light and sweet side. They will include wheat in the recipe to give it the slight feel of a hefeweizen and to build up head retention. Standing at only around 40 IBUs, this beer isn't going to be super bitter, but it does have a little bit of a tang to it. There will be notes of citrus and fruity hops, but overall EC9teen will be a dry, sweet beer that should be highly drinkable.

Looking into the future, JD is starting an internship with Relic Brewing Company, and is looking forward to getting more production beer out into the market. Between Relic and new brewery Two Roads, JD says that he will be looking for ways to contract out his beer or to find some other way to get his vision for beer out into the CT beer scene.

As far as Eli Cannon's news goes, today Relic is having its first birthday party. This is a great time for anyone to come on down and experience one of the rising stars in CT beer. The 12th will be Eli Cannon's Mardi Gras party, featuring (among other things) JD's  EC9teen. Then on the 20th there will be the New York Tap Attack with will feature a few great New York breweries along with some aged stouts, barley wines, and a cask of Blue Point Toxic Sludge that has been dry hopped and aged on bourbon oak cubes (!). JD is also hinting at some very special surprises to come out of the NY Tap Attack, so that's one you don't want to miss.

Be sure to follow me on on BloggerTwitter, and Facebook and stay tuned for tasting notes on craft beer and more news from the CT beer scene!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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