Once Upon A Brew Pub – City Steam Brewery


There are many breweries in unique and interesting older buildings across the US, but the most unique one I have visited is City Steam Brewery in Hartford, CT.

Located in the old Cheney Building, it is regarded as one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the United States. The Cheney building was designed by H.H. Richardson and opened in 1877. Originally it was the home of Brown Thompson and Company, the largest department store in Connecticut.



Most of the cast iron railing and much of the millwork was salvaged and used in the brewery. There are nine levels surrounding an open middle, with seating areas on each level. The brew-master at City Steam thinks it’s a dream come true to have their 23-barrel system powered with “city steam” provided by Hartford Steam Co.

If you are ever in Hartford I would recommend stopping by for a visit. Great food and beer, and it is a truly remarkable and visually appealing brewery. City Steam does rotate some of their beers, but here is a sampling.




Naughty Nurse Amber Ale   5.2 % ABV

Naughty Nurse has a pleasant aroma of the English hops that were utilized-Challenger, Fuggles, and Golding. A low to moderate caramel aroma is also present from the English crystal malt that was used. The hop bitterness is offset and balanced by the sweetness that the crystal malt adds. Naughty Nurse is one of their first beers and one of the most popular. I can see why. A very quaffable amber ale.

O’Fest German Style Oktoberfest   5.8 % ABV

A moderate malty richness and a toasty-doughy aroma gives an impression of sweetness. Low levels of floral and herbal hop notes, clean and fresh. It is deep yellow, almost golden in color. A traditional Oktoberfest lager aged 10 weeks in a beer cellar. This medium bodied lager is smooth with an almost creamy texture. A clean German lager with a robust, malty flavor and light noble hop notes. A deft balance of strength and drinkability, that allows you to have more than one. Prost.

White Wedding Wheat 5.4% ABV

An American style unfiltered wheat beer brewed with Canadian grains and using Belgian spices. There is a mild aroma and flavor of banana and clove, with a touch of spice from the added orange peel and coriander. A light refreshing mouth feel, with a touch of both clove and banana from the brewing yeast, and a pleasant dry finish. I personally like a little more clove in my wheat beers. Banana usually makes the flavor too sweet for my taste. Overall White Wedding is an interesting and drinkable blend of American and Belgian styles.

Blonde on Blonde American Pale Ale 5.4% ABV

A double Gold Medal winning American Pale Ale. Don’t let the name fool you, this is not a Blonde, instead it is a light golden American Pale Ale. German noble hops were used for bittering and West Coast hops for aroma and flavor. You can definitely smell and taste the west coast hops. Medium mouth feel combined with a great hop flavor and aroma make this American Pale Ale a pleasure to drink. I can see the reason they keep it on tap and why it won two gold medals.  Cheers!

Innocence IPA 7.2% ABV

An old school IPA with a great hop aroma of Northern Brewer, Centennial and Cascade hops. The malt aroma is low to medium. The amber color is bright and clear. Medium bodied with an assertive bitterness well balanced with a mild malt sweetness. The hop bitterness although bold does not linger too long as to make it overly astringent. A well balanced, very drinkable IPA, and worth having another. This is a great beer for hop heads.

Norwegian Wood 5.6 % ABV A dark spiced winter lager

A special beer brewed for winter, a moderate malt aroma with notes of chocolate and cinnamon. This is a speciality brew and therefore hard to categorize. A low to moderate body and mouth feel with a smooth malt sweetness and hints of chocolate and cinnamon. Dry and crisp, I think this winter lager would go well with a chocolate desert around a warm fire.

Black Silk Oatmeal Stout 5.6% ABV

A pleasant aroma of roasted malt with hints of chocolate and little to no hop notes. Smooth, silky and well balanced. Medium bodied and full of flavor from the roasted malts, this tasty oatmeal stout complimented the braised pot roast that I had for dinner. A fine example of an oatmeal stout. If you are ever in Hartford I would recommend stopping by City Stream for a visit. I know I will be back.

City Steam Brewery Café and Restaurant
942 Main St.
Hartford, CT.  06103

Don Williams

Don Williams has been a home brewer since 2002. He is a recognized BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, and has taught brewing classes. Don enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Kalispell, Montana.

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