I visited Thimble Island Brewing Company on National Beer Day, a recently enacted mini-holiday celebrating the repeal of Prohibition. Just as crowds gathered around American breweries on April 7, 1933, there was a sizable crew of people gathered at Thimble Island in Branford to commemorate 80-plus years of legal beer drinking. The brewery was also holding a festive paint night that evening, and everything from mocha chocolate chip cannolis to burgers and locally sourced fish and chips was available from two food trucks camped in the parking lot.
Thimble Island’s flagship beer is their American Ale, an amber/red ale offering a light and refreshing mix of hops and malt. The brewery does a super job crafting solid, American-style beer all around—I tried their IPA, well-balanced and not overwhelmingly hoppy, as well as their Session IPA, very dry and hop-forward. My friend loved the Dark Pumpkin Porter, a New England seasonal that doesn’t err towards ultra-sweet.
Thimble Island is named after the cluster of islands off Branford’s coast, and the space has a distinctly nautical feel—the bar has a beautiful shell detail at its corner and is inlaid with thick rope; the tap handles are oar-shaped. Thimble’s Uncharted Series, special brews available at various times throughout the year, include the summery Windjammer Wheat Ale, Mutually Assured Destruction Russian Imperial Stout, and the Ghost Island Double IPA, and unique cask beers such as the Vanilla Coffee Stout and an extra-hopped Session IPA brewed with peaches are tapped regularly.
Upcoming paint nights in May and June feature “Kiss the Girl,” “Herb Garden,” and “Sand Art Terrarium” themes, and trivia is held regularly on Fridays. Beer talks and tastings are held three times a day on weekends, and there are whispers of a biweekly summer IPA series launching this summer, as well as a beer garden and new bar offering stand-up and sit-down seating. Pick up Thimble Islands beer virtually anywhere around the state—visit their website for a comprehensive list of locations.