For Counter Weight Brewing, a move to Cheshire brings more space and increased brewing capacity

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Matt Westfall’s plan was to get a master’s degree in sociology, but beer got in the way.

As an undergrad, Westfall became fascinated with brewing after living in Willimantic while in college and spending time at Zok’s Homebrewing & Winemaking and Willimantic Brewing Co., two of Connecticut’s brewing OGs. Instead of sociology, Westfall began studying hops and other beer ingredients. Eventually, he became head brewer at the New England Brewing Co., serving in that position for nine years and helping to make the brewery one of the most critically acclaimed in the state. After leaving NEBCO, he opened Counter Weight Brewing Co. in 2017, which quickly took its place among Connecticut’s top breweries.


This spring, Counter Weight got better by completing a move from its original location in Hamden to an impressive new facility in Cheshire. The 29,500 square foot Cheshire space is nearly twice the size of the old Hamden site and features a four-vessel, 30-barrel brewhouse, compared to Hamden’s three-vessel, 20-barrel brewhouse.

“We were looking to find a forever home,” Westfall said of the move. “We built this place in Cheshire to basically be more efficient for our team to work a little smarter, and just have a more organized space to ultimately do what we want to achieve as brewers.”

Matt Westfall brews some of the best beers in the state.

Lisa Nichols/Hearst CT Media

Located in a corporate park just minutes from I-84 and I-691, the brewery is easily accessible. The space is child and dog friendly (outdoors) and includes a large dining area with the sleek, open design we’ve come to expect in brasseries, plus plenty of cool side space and opportunities to see the brewing operations. Capacity is 450, and on a visit on a Saturday in early April it was nearly full by 1pm.

While the new space itself would be a draw, many who flock to the brewery are there for its famous beers that range from traditional German styles to modern foggy IPAs. “While we love our hoppy beers, we also have a deep passion within our team for European lagers,” says Westfall. “Every couple of years I try to make time to go to Germany and explore and meet other brewers to learn about certain processes and equipment and other things that could improve our beer here in the House.”

On these trips, Westfall noticed that many lagers were poured from tap kegs called stichfass and decided to adopt the method for some of the lagers he produced at his brewery. “Rather than being pushed with CO2 like a normal draw, it’s dispensed by gravity,” says Westfall. “What I learned and what people told me in Germany is that they do this because they pour so much beer so fast. So it’s really for speed. But what what we’ve noticed is that a lot of these beers, being air-opened and poured quickly, let a bit of carbonation and CO2 escape the product, so that gives it a bit of a silkier mouthfeel. And that made things really easier.

During my visit, I tried the Drudenhaus, a traditional Rauchbier (smoked beer) poured from stichfass. Smooth with subtle smoky flavors, the beer is easy to drink and the stichfass adds character.

As intriguing as these lagers are, Westfall and his team haven’t overlooked IPAs. “Our staff are always looking for hop combinations and new hop varieties to experiment with, and always strive to make our existing hopped beers a bit more expressive and really try to get as many wonderful flavors and aromas out of the hops as possible,” says Westfall.

While many Counter Weight IPAs have the cloudy appearance and tropical flavors of hazy New England IPAs, they also retain some of the bitterness that older American IPAs are known for. “I think what really sets our IPAs apart is that, despite the fact that they may seem hazy, they have a firm bitterness to them,” says Westfall. He fell in love with craft beer while drinking bitter but balanced beers such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Dogfish 60 Minute IPA and Stone IPA.

Counter Weight Brewing's new larger space in Cheshire allows for increased production.

Counter Weight Brewing’s new larger space in Cheshire allows for increased production.

Lisa Nichols/Hearst CT Media

“That firm bitterness, especially in an IPA, kind of lends itself to making this beer a bit more drinkable, so it doesn’t get cloying and you can have a few rather than being in some sort off. after your first drink. And then we also make sure that these beers are not too sweet. We really tone these beers down completely and make sure they’re nice and dry, and that also helps this beer’s ability not to go cloying.

This philosophy is apparent in Crucial Mass, a double tropical fruit IPA with lots of haze and hop bite that avoids the pitfalls of the hazy style and is one of my favorite IPAs. Cans of this beer, along with Counter Weight’s Workhorse pilsner and Headway IPA, are available statewide and are worth seeking out even if you can’t get to Cheshire. However, if you are a beer fan, visiting this new brewery should definitely be on your bucket list this summer.

Counter Weight Brewing Co.
7 Diana Court, Cheshire
203-806-1477, counterweightbrewing.com, @counterweightbrewingco on Instagram
Open from Wed. to Sat.
Wheelchair accessible


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