By John Adamian
2:35 PM EST, March 4, 2013
95B Whiting St., Plainville, (860).255-4252, relicbeer.com
The Connecticut beer scene just got a little bigger. Maybe by a couple hundred square-feet or so. That's because Relic Brewing, the "nano-brewery" in Plainville, recently expanded its little tasting room to house the growing numbers of eager suds-sippers and beer fanatics who seek the small operation out for its innovative and delicious and bold craft beers.
Relic's new tasting room is now about four times as big as the old one. But the space is still pretty cozy and small-scale. Instead of feeling like you're tasting beer in your friend's walk-in closet, now you might feel a little more like you're kicking back in someone's nicely polished living room. Keeping with the local-is-good ethos, Relic hangs works by area artists in the tasting room, too.
Mark Sigman, who opened Relic Brewery a year ago after years of homebrewing, has traveled the world in search of excellent beer. He's made pilgrimages to monasteries in Belgium that brew small batches of what is widely regarded to be the world's best beer. He's traveled to New Zealand and sought out that country's hops-growing region (which happens to also be where some of its best vineyards are as well).
To correspond with the added space and time devoted to tastings at Relic (Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 12 to 3 p.m., and Tuesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.), Sigman has also increased production of his beers, roughly tripling the number of barrels he makes each week. And he still routinely sells out of his stock, not the worst problem for a new business to have.
Sigman brews up new beers, with new recipes and new flavor combinations, every couple of weeks. He's made a very easy-to-drink Pre-Prohibition American Lager using flaked corn. The Relic IPA is pleasingly tangy with plenty of hops flavor but no abrasive edge. Sigman made a malty traditional English old ale. And Relic also makes Prologue, a rye lager.
Sigman guesses he's brewed about 30 different beers in his first year running Relic. He's bottled 11 of those. (Others are sold in growlers or in kegs to regional bars.) At the end of this month he'll be offering bottles of Falconess for the time. It's an American strong ale, which generally refers to a kind of pale ale brewed in this country with alcohol content by volume of above 7 percent. This one is brewed with one type of hops called Nelson Sauvin, which are from that wine-growing region in New Zealand.
"It's pretty unusual," says Sigman. "It's still pretty rare. It has a very unique taste. It actually tastes kind of like a sauvignon blanc. The beer is also finished with orange-blossom honey. It gives it this floral-orangey flavor."
Beer devotees looking to get sneak taste of the Falconess before the bottles are in stores can stop by Relic Brewery's new, bigger tasting room.
"It's been super popular," says Sigman. "I've done a bunch of batches of it, but I haven't ever bottled it."
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