It is human to rank.  Whether it’s a debate about a player’s all-time credentials, where to purchase a home when that Powerball ticket finally comes good, or which celebrity hottie you’d punch that hall pass on, we enjoy the sport of organizing our interests.  And it is no different with beer.  As such, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the past few months researching and ranking every single brewery across the state.  

These rankings — at least the ones I am releasing today — are objective, using data to organize each brewer’s place on the list.  In the coming weeks I will be publishing rankings about specific beers in Connecticut, and in the future some subjective lists of my own, but for now we are beginning with the most basic of ranking —which brewery is the state’s most popular?

There is no public data on brewery sales, nor is there an objective way to poll this stuff.  Everybody’s bias comes to play.  Further, it’s unlikely that most people voting in an open poll will have visited every single brewery in the state, let alone spent significant time in each.  In other words, for the initial ranking that I’m releasing, I’m trying to stick to the numbers as tightly as possible.

The numbers I’m utilizing are reviews from two beer rating sites — Beer Advocate and Untappd and the followers from three social media sites — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  There are flaws in this.  The number of reviews from Untapped dwarf those of Beer Advocate and are significantly larger than any of the social media sites I drew from.  Twitter too was far less popular than both Facebook and Instagram.  In fact, you can see the waxing and waning of Instagram and Twitter’s relevance in CT beer circles through the data.  Older breweries tended to have solid followings on Twitter, but lagged on Instagram and vice versa.  For example, two popular breweries — Fat Orange Cat (2016) and New Park Brewing (2017) — don’t even have active Twitter accounts.

With all of this said, I’m sticking to the idea that one vote is one vote, no matter the platform’s popularity.  If an individual took the time to review a beer or like a brewery — it counts.   Data was taken from the Beer Review sites in December 2018, while the data from the Social Media sites was pulled this month — January of 2019.  No 2019 breweries were included.  The rankings will be updated every six month.  2019 brewers will be included then. 

The charts are as follow:  Most Popular Overall and Most Popular By Class

CT Beer Rankings January 2019:

BreweryTownEst.Total ReviewsOverall Rank
Two Roads Brewing CompanyStratford, CT2012827361#1
New England Brewing Co.Woodbridge, CT2002327204#2
Stony Creek Brewing CompanyBranford, CT2015185058#3
Kent Falls Brewing CompanyKent, CT2015183062#4
Black Hog Brewing CompanyOxford, CT2014158049#5
Thomas Hooker Brewing CompanyBloomfield, CT2006156730#6
Beer'd Brewing CompanyStonington, CT2012140298#7
Relic Brewing CompanyBloomfield, CT2012139506#8
Thimble Island Brewing CompanyBranford, CT2010103990#9
OEC BrewingOxford, CT201496121#10
Back East Brewing CompanySouth Windsor, CT201295992#11
Fat Orange Cat Brewing CompanyEast Hampton, CT201685914#12
Connecticut Valley Brewing CompanySouth Windsor, CT201682292#13
City SteamHartford, CT199780659#14
Counter Weight Brewing CompanyHamden CT201780294#15
Firefly Hollow Brewing Co.Bristol, CT201378736#16
Fox Farm BrewerySalem, CT201667243#17
Half Full BreweryStamford, CT201266750#18
Shebeen Brewing CompanyBranford, CT201362752#19
Outer Light Brewing CompanyGroton, CT201562423#20
New Park Brewing CompanyWest Hartford, CT201762337#21
Broad Brook Brewing CompanyEast Windsor, CT201251894#22
Willimantic Brewing Co.Willimantic, CT201049928#23
Hanging Hill Brewing CompanyHartford, CT201647989#24
Kinsmen Brewing CompanySouthington, CT201641198#25
Stubborn Beauty Brewing CompanyMiddletown, CT201436212#26
Bad SONS Beer CompanyDerby, CT 201734781#27
Alavarium Beer CompanyNew Britain, CT201733527#28
Olde Burnside Brewing CompanyEast Hartford, CT200032239#29
Powder Hollow BreweryEnfield, CT201431587#30
Cold Creek BreweryEllington, CT201531057#31
Cottrell Brewing CompanyPawcatuck, CT199730696#32
Steady Habit Brewing CompanyHaddam, CT201430567#33
No Worries Brewing CompanyHamden, CT201626566#34
Hog River Brewing CompanyHartford, CT201624913#35
Armada Brewing CompanyEast Haven, CT201723567#36
Five Churches BrewingNew Britain, CT201723551#37
Veracious Brewing CompanyMonroe, CT201520122#38
Still Hill BreweryRocky Hill, CT201619425#39
These Guys BrewingNorwich, CT201518248#40
DuVig Brewing Co.Branford, CT201418187#41
Overshores Brewing CompanyEast Haven, CT201516785#42
Brewery LegitmusNew Hartford, CT201615716#43
Labyrinth Brewing CompanyManchester, CT201815335#44
Lasting Brass Brewery CompanyWaterbury, CT201615238#45
Lock City Brewing Co.Stamford, CT201715,155#46
30 Mile Brewing CompanyOld Saybrook, CT201515088#47
Charter Oak Brewing CompanyDanbury, CT201214761#48
Witchdoctor Brewing CompanySouthington, CT 201614535#49
Brass Works Brewing CompanyWaterbury, CT201514251#50
Nod Hill BreweryRidgefield, CT201714236#51
Aspetuck Brew LabBridgeport, CT201514204#52
Tribus Beer CompanyMilford, CT201813302#53
Forest City BrewingMiddletown, CT201612689#54
Epicure BrewingNorwich, CT201711573#55
Cambridge HouseGranby, CT201111421#56
Black Pond BrewsDanielson, CT201211352#57
Front Porch BrewingWallingford, CT201410760#58
Fairfield Craft AlesStratford, CT20169529#59
Housatonic River BrewingNew Milford, CT20188097#60
Broken SymmetryBethel, CT20187536#61
Woodbury Brewing CompanyWoodbury, CT20187301#62
Parable Brewing CompanyManchester, CT20186,951#63
Little House Brewing CompanyChester, CT20186,483#64
Norbrook Farm BreweryColebrook, CT20186424#65
Barley Head BreweryMystic, CT20176,386#66
Noble Jay Brewing CompanyNiantic, CT20185796#67
East Rock Brewing CompanyNew Haven, CT20185741#68
The Crossings Restaurant & Brew PubPutnam, CT20135188#69
Bad Dream BrewingNew Milford, CT20184736#70
Soundview Brewing CompanyEast Haven, CT (Beeracks)20174701#71
Problem SolvedEast Windsor, CT20184567#72
Athletic BrewingStratford, CT20184301#73
Cliffside Brewing CompanyWallingford, CT20174063#74
HoaxEast Haven, CT (Beeracks)20173992#75
Great FallsCanaan, CT20183795#76
2nd Bridge Brewing CompanyManchester, CT20183748#77
Hull's Brewing CompanyEast Haven, CT (Beeracks)20183525#78
Milford Point BrewingMilford, CT20183454#79
Redding Beer CompanyRedding, CT20172987#80
Erector Brewing CollectiveNew Haven, CT20152733#81
Iron Brewing CompanySouth Norwalk, CT20172564#82
Niantic Public HouseNiantic, CT20182234#83
Breakaway Brew HausBolton, CT20171698#84
Metronome BrewingEast Haven, CT (Beeracks)2018292#85

CT Beer Rankings January 2019:

Phase 1: The Early Years 1997-2011
City Steam BreweryHartford, CT
Cottrell Brewing CompanyPawcatuck, CT30,696#24
Olde Burnside Brewing CompanyEast Hartford, CT32,23932,23932,239#25
New England Brewing Co.Woodbridge, CT327,204327,204327,204#2
Thomas Hooker Brewing CompanyBloomfield, CT156,730156,730156,730#5
Willimantic Brewing Co.Willimantic, CT49,92849,92849,928#26
Cambridge HouseGranby, CT11,42111,42111,421#55

Thomas Hooker and New England Brewing Company remain goliaths in the space and did quite well with that first mover advantage. NEBCO especially is in the running for best brewery in the state, not just in popularity, but in quality too. City Steam and Cottrell, two regional stalwarts, continue to march forward from this class. Neither are huge names in 2019, but maintain relevancy nonetheless

Phase 2: CT Breweries ASSEEMMBBLLEE2012-2014MedianMedianOverall Ranking
Two Roads Brewing CompanyStratford, CT827361161,32395,992#1
Beer'd Brewing CompanyStonington, CT140298#7
Relic Brewing CompanyPlainville, CT139506#8
Thimble Island Brewing CompanyBranford, CT103990#9
Back East Brewing CompanyBloomfield, CT95992#11
Half Full BreweryStamford, CT66750#18
Broad Brook Brewing CompanyEast Windsor, CT51894#22
Charter Oak Brewing CompanyDanbury, CT14761#47
Black Pond BrewsDanielson, CT11352#56
Firefly Hollow Brewing Co.Bristol, CT7873648,89262,752#16
Shebeen Brewing CompanyWolcott, CT62752#19
The Crossings Restaurant & Brew PubPutnam, CT5188#68
Black Hog Brewing CompanyOxford, CT15804954,49830,567#5
OEC BrewingOxford, CT96121#10
Stubborn Beauty Brewing CompanyMiddletown, CT36212#26
Powder Hollow BreweryEnfield, CT31587#30
Steady Habit Brewing CompanyHaddam, CT30567#33
DuVig Brewing Co.Branford, CT18187#40
Front Porch BrewingWallingford, CT10760#57

2012 is the breakout class for craft beer in Connecticut. Two Roads has 2.5X “Total Reviews” than NEBCO (2nd Overall), and 4X than everyone else in the top 10. It would be a massive undertaking for anyone to displace them at the top. Back East, Thimble Island, Beer’d, Relic, and Half Full are all very well distributed breweries throughout the state and have dedicated followings too. Dogs & Boats and Ice Cream Man are among the most iconic beers in Connecticut, with Thimble Island’s American Ale being a favorite “base beer” for many. Black Hog breaks the Top 5, with OEC continuing to be one of the state’s most critically acclaimed ventures…

Phase 3: Expansion2015 & 2016MedianMedianOverall Ranking
Stony Creek Brewing CompanyBranford, CT18505851,18518248#3
Kent Falls Brewing CompanyKent, CT183062#4
Outer Light Brewing CompanyGroton, CT62423#20
Cold Creek BreweryEllington, CT31057#31
Veracious Brewing CompanyMonroe, CT20122#37
These Guys BrewingNorwich, CT18248#39
Overshores Brewing CompanyEast Haven, CT16785#41
30 Mile Brewing CompanyOld Saybrook, CT15088#46
Brass Works Brewing CompanyWaterbury, CT14251#49
Aspetuck Brew LabBridgeport, CT14204#51
Erector Brewing CollectiveNew Haven, CT2733#80
Fat Orange Cat Brewing CompanyEast Hampton, CT8591435,63424913#12
Connecticut Valley Brewing CompanySouth Windsor, CT82292#13
Fox Farm BrewerySalem, CT67243#17
Hanging Hill Brewing CompanyHartford, CT47989#24
Kinsmen Brewing CompanySouthington, CT41198#25
No Worries Brewing CompanyHamden, CT26566#33
Hog River Brewing CompanyHartford, CT24913#34
Still Hill BreweryRocky Hill, CT19425#38
Brewery LegitmusNew Hartford, CT15716#42
Lasting Brass Brewery CompanyWaterbury, CT15238#44
Witchdoctor Brewing CompanySouthington, CT14535#48
Forest City BrewingMiddletown, CT12689#53
Fairfield Craft AlesStratford, CT9529#58

2015 and 2016 nearly doubled the number of breweries in the state and introduced some of Connecticut’s most sought after beer. Kent Falls Brewing is fourth in our rankings, but has the chops to eventually move higher. Fat Orange Cat, Fox Farm, and Brewery Legitimus all have sterling reputations for cranking out magnificent beer too. Outer Light, Kinsmens, CT Valley, and Hanging Hill have also stamped their footprints on the state’s beer scene with committed followings. Lastly, Stony Creek arguably Connecticut’s most controversial brewery. Clocking it at third, nobody ever said it wasn’t a pretty place to throw one back…

Phase 4: Explosion2017 & 2018MedianMedianOverall Ranking
Counter Weight Brewing CompanyHamden CT8029420,33812,904#15
New Park Brewing CompanyWest Hartford, CT62337#21
Bad SONS Beer CompanyDerby, CT34781#27
Alavarium Beer CompanyNew Britain, CT33527#28
Armada Brewing CompanyEast Haven, CT23567#35
Five Churches BrewingNew Britain, CT23551#36
Lock City Brewing Co.Stamford, CT15,155#45
Nod Hill BreweryRidgefield, CT14236#50
Epicure BrewingNorwich, CT11573#54
Barley Head BreweryMystic, CT6,386#65
Soundview Brewing CompanyEast Haven, CT (Beeracks)4701#70
Cliffside Brewing CompanyWallingford, CT4063#73
HoaxEast Haven, CT (Beeracks)3992#74
Redding Beer CompanyRedding, CT2987#79
Iron Brewing CompanySouth Norwalk, CT2564#81
Breakaway Brew HausBolton, CT1698#83
Labyrinth Brewing CompanyManchester, CT1533559805741#43
Tribus Beer CompanyMilford, CT13302#52
Housatonic River BrewingNew Milford, CT8,097#59
Broken SymmetryBethel, CT7,536#60
Woodbury Brewing CompanyWoodbury, CT7301#61
Parable Brewing CompanyManchester, CT6,951#62
Little House Brewing CompanyChester, CT6,483#63
Norbrook Farm BreweryColebrook, CT6,424#64
Noble Jay Brewing CompanyNiantic, CT5796#66
East Rock Brewing CompanyNew Haven, CT5,741#67
Bad Dream BrewingNew Milford, CT4,736#69
Problem SolvedEast Windsor, CT4567#71
Athletic BrewingStratford, CT4301#72
Great FallsCanaan, CT3795#75
2nd Bridge Brewing CompanyManchester, CT3748#76
Hull's Brewing CompanyEast Haven, CT (Beeracks)3525#77
Milford Point BrewingMilford, CT3454#78
Niantic Public HouseNiantic, CT2234#82
Metronome BrewingEast Haven, CT292#84

Over one third of the breweries that exist in Connecticut today, opened within the last two years. I titled this phase explosion for good reason. Counterweight is the biggest name in the lot, but don’t count out New Park, who sits quietly just outside the top twenty. Both breweries have made a legitimate impact in less than two years of operation. New Britain got two excellent breweries in this era in Alvarium and Five Churches, with Armada and BAD SONS establishing themselves too. There was a boom in Fairfield County as well, with eleven of the thirty-three breweries in this class hailing from that region. Tribus and Labyrinth are crushing it in their first years of existence, with smaller shops such as Little House and Bad Dream already producing wonderful beer…

Post Script

I have 85 breweries on this list, but I’m quite positive that I’ve missed some. If so, reach out and I’ll place them in the rankings. Further, I’ve probably screwed up placing some breweries in the wrong class. I did my best, but correct me if I’m wrong — I want to be as accurate as possible in all of this.

What does everyone think? Which rankings were you surprised at? Which brewery is ranked criminally low or maybe way too high? Reach out in the comments below! Would love to hear CT’s thoughts and feedback.

Can’t wait to see how these change going forward! More rankings to come…