Thursday, October 10, 2013

From the back burner: beer and meat!

Now that I'm caught up on 2 Broke Gossip Gilmore Gastineau New Girls Next Door, let's cover some topics I've been meaning to get to!

Half Full Brewery
You're all aware by now that Stamford has its own booming micro-brewery, Half Full Brewery.  They've been all over the local press and blogosphere, and even got a visit from Governor Malloy.  They also just celebrated their first anniversary!

They started with one simple IPA and they've just kept creating quality brew after quality brew.  It's amazing how consistently good their beers have been!

I had a chance to sit down with Conor Horrigan, founder, owner and "Chief Beer Philosopher" of Half Full Brewery to chat about his beers, his passions, and basically the whole story behind Half Full.

To Conor, it's all about "living life with the glass half-full" and "chasing the dream."  Based on how Half Full has exploded in its mere one year of existence, I'd say Conor has succeeded at both.

But it's not just about the business at Half Full.  Conor is also committed to making Half Full an active, positive part of the fabric of Stamford, which includes donating brewery tours as fundraisers, organizing park cleanups, and other community-oriented initiatives.

Conor wants to focus on his employees' passion projects; for example, Chief Beer Artist Jen wants to encourage more women to learn about craft beer.

There's no doubt about Conor's desire to build a community around the brewery.  For instance, Half Full recently hosted a "Craft over Craft" meeting as a complement to Ignite Stamford.  It was a lively discussion about how to make Stamford "the greatest city on Earth."  Ideas included: light rail, bike lanes, more trees, and more art and culture.

Fun fact: Half Full's building used to be an eggplant-frying factory.  Yum!

One of my main questions for Conor was, why Stamford?  They could've found a warehouse anywhere else in the state for much less.  Here's his answer, paraphrased:  "I saw all the development, and a lot of excitement.  This is a densely populated area - it's where the customers and accounts are.  It's also a great community that would support a local business; people are proud of Stamford, and this is important to breweries, since they make a super-local product.  There are also lots of new restaurants here with new and unique concepts, and I wanted to be a part of that excitement.  Also, there are no breweries down here, so I saw the opportunity for craft beer here and for people to learn about better beer.  The people are hungry for something like that here - they'll pick it up strictly because it's local.  We brew right here - you can smell it - the community can come in and see the people behind it.  Beer is a very communal product."

All I can say to that is Prost!

Also - pumpkin beer!

Dinosaur BBQ
I don't have enough superlatives to describe Dinosaur BBQ.  Every meal I've had there has been simply awesome.  It's a giant temple to all things smoke and pork.  Your experience starts in the parking lot, since the smell of all that deliciousness hits you the moment you get out of your car - or when you walk over, if you're one of those people lucky enough to work down the road!  The ribs are the best in the area, and the pulled pork is heavenly.  Speaking of Heaven, Dinosaur BBQ is pretty much how I imagine it would look - BBQ, beer, football...yeah.

Since I work in the general neighborhood, I've used their takeout service plenty of times as well, and it's always been a great experience.  They get every order right, even if you make substitutions, and they're always willing to split the bill when everyone pays on their own, unlike some places that give you a hassle about doing so.

Also - temporary tattoos!

Plan B Burger Bar
Yup - more awesome meat!  Plan B makes the best burger in town, hands down.  And the variety!  You can get so many different kinds of meat and so many toppings!  I'm slowly working my way through their checklist, I mean menu, and I've loved every burger so far.  The service is also top-notch - everyone is friendly and knowledgeable.

Also - Parmesan tater tots!  I loved them so much, I found a recipe online and made them at home!

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