Ales from the Dark Side: Bad Dream Brewing

Bad Dream Brewing in New Mildford, CT

offers a variety of beers on tap in a fun, spooky setting.

On my way to visit yet another local brewery, driving past the Home Depot, AutoZone Auto Parts and the inevitable Advanced Auto Parts next door (it’s one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the universe that you never see one without seeing the other shortly afterwards), I kept expecting to turn off Danbury Road. Hmmm...the GPS is saying we should be here, but all I see is a strip mall. I even drove into the parking lot of a diner thinking it might be on some dirt road behind it. Surely a brewery called Bad Dream Brewing couldn’t be in some nondescript strip mall sandwiched between a Staples and a sporting goods store? And yet, there it was.

It is easy to miss the narrow storefront with a few chairs and tables on the pavement facing a sparsely populated parking lot. Once inside though, it’s easy to forget you’re in a strip mall. Charcoal walls set off an eclectic mixture of framed original artwork, photos, prints and macramé hangings. The wall displays along with mismatched comfy furniture, table lamps, house plants, bookcases, and Persian rugs, give the place a sort of thrift shop chic, but it’s an intimate space. It feels like being in a hip, artsy friend’s living room.

According to a 2018 article in The News Times, the four owners, who are all in their late twenties and early thirties, had been hosting a popular horror-themed book club. They used to serve their home brews to attendees, and this eventually led to the idea of opening a brewery. After two years of planning Bad Dream Brewing opened last June. The book club lives on at brewery--recent selections listed on Bad Dream’s website include Carrie, by Stephen King and William Golding’s horrifying classic Lord of the Flies (imagine if those boys had a nice, piney IPA to go with their pig roast, maybe things would have gone smoother for them).

With the well-stocked, browsable bookcases, there is a decidedly literary ambiance in the Bad Dream Brewing tap room. The pleasing, if slightly macabre, aura that pervades everything from the name of the establishment to the spooky logo (which is reminiscent of a spirit from the great Japanese movie Spirited Away), and the t-shirt designs featuring skeletons gamboling with assorted creepy-crawlies, is also evident in the names and descriptions of what’s on tap. Take for example the write-up for a hoppy pale ale called Hostile Hitchhiker: “Pick this one up. You’re in for a surprise. Like all good hitchhikers, it brings some dankness and citrus (gotta avoid scurvy on the road), but packs a sneaky bitterness that jumps you from the backseat.” Also on offer at the time of our visit, Weasel Riot, a punchy NEIPA (New England India Pale Ale) and Detached Headspace, a medium-bodied stout.

You know what goes really well with a beer? Fried pickles. Bad Dream Brewing doesn’t have them, they don’t serve food. Fortunately, Cobblestones American Grille does, and they will deliver them to you while you’re sampling your $8 flight of four beers. You can order from a special menu just for patrons of Bad Dream Brewing, with delectable items like the Bad Dream Burrito, which is stuffed with chicken, cheese, rice, beans, corn, sour cream, salsa, and french fries (yes, they are inside the burrito, and believe me--it works). You can build your own burger adding among other things, a fried egg, blue cheese crumbles, or fried pickles (yes, they're on the burger and believe me--it works).

Bad Dream Brewing is located in Fairfield Plaza at 116 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT. Bad Dream is open Thursday and Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and is closed Monday through Wednesday. Check the website for literary readings, open mic nights, and book club meetings: