Tin Bridge Brewing Bridges the Gap Between Beer and Music

A few months ago, I wrote about Within The Ruins’ guitarist Joe Cocchi’s brewery, Tin Bridge Brewing. I recently got an opportunity to chat one on one with Joe, and he was able to give me a little more background on the brewery, and balancing the brewing and being in a metal band.

Joe started out as a homebrewer, and talking to homebrewers-turned-owners always gives me hope that my own craft can become something larger than boiling water in my kitchen. The brewery got its name from a bridge where Joe used to hang out with his friends growing up in western Massachusetts. Which is fitting, since now Joe is hanging out with his friends and making beer. The brews of Tin Bridge are described as “high gravity”, and Joe said that many of them are stouts and porters with some really interesting ingredients. Barrel-aging is becoming so prevalent lately, and Tin Bridge recently picked up a used bourbon barrel from Woodinville Whiskey Company, which was also used to age maple syrup. They have plans to put a vanilla porter inside it, which is something I would love to try.

Band and breweries are two different animals, although they do have a few basics in common. Joe seems to have a good grasp on the balance of both. His partners at the brewery, which includes family and close friends, keeps a strong hold on things while he is on tour or recording with the band.

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With so many craft breweries popping up, packaging is more meaningful than ever, and really helps brand a brewery and catch people’s eyes. Joe said he that the labels on their bottles may reflect their metal background and possibly be similar to the artwork on Within The Ruins’ album covers. The band has had some really great artwork, so seeing that tied into a beer label would be pretty awesome.

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What I thought was really interesting that Joe mentioned was the prospect of Internet distribution for their beers. Having beer at the merch table while on tour isn’t a possibility. However, distributing it online would be a great way to bridge fans of the brewery and fans of the band. Not to mention attracting beer lovers from across the country and around the world.

Tin Bridge Brewing is open, but operates as a production space right now. So while there is no tasting room yet, the guys certainly welcome visitors who want to check out the brewing in progress and taste the finished project on site. Check out their Facebook for updates on what’s getting brewed! As for Within the Ruins, they will be on tour with Born of Osiris this month, which is really exciting. CT folks can catch them on Halloween at the Webster Theater in Hartford.

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Grey Sail Brewery: Westerly’s Craft Beer Anchor

Last weekend I toured Grey Sail Brewery of Westerly, RI.

Jen Brinton and her husband Alan are the owners of the brewery, and took on Josh LeTourneau as their head brewer shortly after purchasing the building. The brick building itself is historic- it used to house the Westerly Macaroni Manufacturing Company and was built in the late 1920s. Jen and Alan jumped on the purchase of it in 2010 when it was up for sale, after a massive flood took over Westerly. Grey Sail Brewery officially opened on 11/11/11. This year marks their two-year anniversary.

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One of the things I like best about this brewery is that all of their beers, except for special, limited releases, come in cans. Jen said that cans are more environmentally friendly, but that wasn’t the main reason they chose to distribute their beer in cans. Canned beer celebrates the Ocean State, by making beer easy to bring on boats and the beach. Beer in cans has gotten huge, which I noticed a lot this summer, but to have beer exclusively in cans is still pretty unique.

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I tasted the last of the summer seasonal, Hazy Day, a Belgian wit, as well as the new seasonal, Autumn Winds, a tasty Oktoberfest-style marzen. I also had their Leaning Chimney Porter, which is named for a leaning chimney inside of the brewery. Grey Sail occasionally brews special offerings, which are only brewed once, regardless of how delicious they may be (The Stargazer Imperial Stout won first place in the Strong Beer- Russian Imperial Stout category at the Great International Beer Festival).

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The two all-year beers include the Flagship cream ale and the Flying Jenny Pale ale, which is named for the Genova sail on a boat, with a spelling change that pays homage to the brewery owner.

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The brewery faced some legal trouble regarding their name, after receiving complaints from Oregon’s Full Sail Brewery. However, after much persistence, the case was settled and both breweries continue to exist. The name Grey Sail captures the spirit of the Ocean State, and it’s great that they were able to keep it that way.

Their beers are easily found throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island of course, and are expected to spread out through other states around the country soon.