Ramshackle Golden Mild Ale
Part of a sampler, $7 something, 4.5% ABV
Purchased at the brewery
This page that you’re reading is my very first Firefly review. Part of me thinks that I should have chosen a more exciting Firefly beer, but then again, what difference does it make? This is their year-round session ale and therefore, in a sense, it should be my flagship review.
So to speak.
In this day and age, low ABV golden ales are sort of cast aside for bigger and bolder beers. Less than half of Connecticut’s breweries are even making them anymore. So I applaud the folks in Bristol for sticking to simple things. Even if they are a bit ramshackle.
And while I enjoy a 10% beast as much as the next craft beer enthusiast, I will always have a place in my liver for session ales. Way back when I started this beer reviewing stuff, I enjoyed a random beer at Cambridge House Brewpub in Granby.
It was called Oakwood mild and was billed a “sessionable brown ale.” I loved the beer and gave it the rare CTMQ “A.” It was full of flavor and body – and was only 3.9% ABV! I was sort of astounded by that. (Remember beer geniuses, I’m not a beer genius.) When I wrote that review, I learned that the beer was the creation of CHB’s annual home-brewing competition champion.
That home-brewer? That was one Dana Borque.
Firefly Hollow Says:
UK and Belgian malts harmonize to create a depth of rich, toasty and bready malt tones supported by hints of toffee, caramel and nuts. Finish is dry and lightly bitter. Hop character is mildly floral with subtle hints of geranium, pepper and vanilla.
If you don’t recognize the name, Dana is now half of the team behind Firefly Brewing. (Which is what I call it, rather than the official name of Firefly Hollow, because I think Dana and Rich Loomis – the other half of the team – had to add the Hollow for some legal reason of some sort. Screw legal reasons.) At least I knew going in to this first Firefly experience that Dana knew how to brew damn good beer… and in a way many simply aren’t, or can’t do these days.
[This is Ramshackle Dana Borque]
So Dana and Rich raised the money to get Firefly going. They used a Kickstarter campaign, among other avenues. They built out their space in the heart of downtown Bristol, in an old factory building.
But my favorite part of the story follow, from their Kickstarter page:
”There is already enough waste in the world, so we are committed to recycling, reusing, and supporting American manufacturing where-ever possible. Our goal is to start with a 7 barrel brewhouse fabricated from repurposed dairy tanks, modified syrup tanks, and miscellaneous stainless vessels. Wherever specialized stainless or manufacturing skills are needed, we will source the labor and goods from domestic companies. We want to get the most out of every dollar we spend while give a home to existing equipment and supporting the local business.”
Had I read that back when they were raising money, I’d have helped them out. I feel badly that I didn’t, but will do my best now to drink Firefly’s beer. There are a lot of museums for us still to get to in Bristol, and as you all know, a couple museum hours with my sons requires a beer afterwards. That’s just parenting.
Okay, so Ramshackle Golden Mild Ale. As you just read two paragraphs above, Firefly’s build was purposely “ramshackle.” Repurposed tanks and vessels. The sort of folksy vibe of the tasting room and exposed pipes and wooden floors continue this ‘ramshackle” theme. (If we ignore the moonscape parking lot, the whole brewery and tasting room is spotless and very well-conceived and is not ramshackle in appearance or feel at all.)
Good lord, this page is far too long. This beer is not my favorite style and it didn’t really excite me too much at all. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. And as for the – dare I say? Insane? – description of a “character [that] is mildly floral with subtle hints of geranium, pepper and vanilla,” I have no idea where that comes from. I can only imagine that the hop variety Rich used has that description in their marketing brochure.
I got no geranium, pepper or vanilla. Nor did I even want to get any geranium, pepper or vanilla in my golden mild ale.
Still, this is a well-made and perfectly fine drinking beer and if you have friends who really aren’t into the crafty craft thing, pick up a growler of this to support Firefly and everyone will be happy.
Overall Rating: B-
Rating vs. Similar style: B