This was an interesting week, what with some of the breweries and brewpubs visited.
First - Ommegang. This brewery has always had a special fascination with many, as it is sort of a "Belgian inside the Americas."
Well, truth be told, they are now owned by Belgian brewers Duvel Moortgat, but started as a Belgian-style brewer on an old hop farm in NY.
Alex was our tour guide and tasting room leader. Gave a good tour and a very detailed explanation of the brewing process. During tasting he demonstrated an extensive knowledge of ingredients, processes and flavour styles.
Witte "Worth the Wheat" - wheat kristallklar [#3,747]
BPA - Belgian style Pale Ale
Hennepin Farmhouse Saison
Ommegang Abbey (this is one of those "10 beers to take to a desert isle")
Besides a great tour and tasting session, there is also a restaurant. Sampled some local cheeses and cured ham, and it was very, very nice. Also tried a flight of:
Gnomegang - Belgian strong pale ale
D'Achouffe - Mc Chouffe (Belgian Flanders Brown)
Liefman - Liefman Cuvée-Brut (Belgian Kriek Lambic
What was also impressive was accidentally overhearing a discussion with an event planner for the brewery, and a local limousine company. The brewery wanted to be sure people at an upcoming event would get brought to their homes/hotels safely. Excellent.
One of the folks behind the gift shop counter suggested trying the new Council Rock Brewpub. Now, sometimes it seems like the odds are stacked against you, but a dedicated beer fan will always persevere. First the bridge was out. Then the brewpub was closed. Thankfully, ran across the owner/brewmaster/chief-coon-and-bottle-washer Roger as he was leaving. He graciously let us in to have a flight of the beers offered.
The beers were good, and by that it is meant they were faithful representations of the basic styles they represented.
Some could have been slightly better based on recipe variations, but all-in-all quite impressive for a brewpub around for about a year, with someone who began home brewing not too long ago.
Tried a taste of the:
Goldenrod ale - golden ale
Honey Wheat ale
Sleeping Lion Red Ale
All American IPA
All American IPA
Leatherstocking Brown Ale
Wings of Darkness Black Lager
Sunken Island Scotch ale
And no one should take constructive criticism badly, for example both their Vienna Lager and Wings of Darkness were standouts. Good show.
Butternuts was next on the list. This place is located in an older dairy barn, which apparently allowed the use of tanks, floor drain, etc. as part of the brewery infrastructure.
First the beer, a short rant, and a mystery solved. Tried the:
The imperial stout is really nice. The Website is not. What is meant by that is that while cute with some great animations, you have no idea if there's a taproom, or if special beers (e.g the Brutus series mystery) exist at all!
In Syracuse just a short walk form the hotel, was the Empire brewpub.
Food was excellent (Wagyu beef burger) as was the
India Pale Ale
Skinny Atlas Kölsch
Black Magic Stout
Winter Warmer - Scotch ale
Across the street was what was ostensibly a wine bar, but the large "Belgian Beer" sign was attractive. Had quite an impressive tap selection, and sampled an:
Elysian - Bye Bye Frost (barleywine)
Flying Dog - Raging Bitch (Belgian IPA)
Of note the folks at Blue Tusk wash off the beer glasses before serving. Not as detailed as the Belgian tradition of pour/spatula head/immerse to rim/serve, but not complaining as this ain't Belgium.
Next day - after work was done - stopped at Middle Ages Brewing.
When one sees some mash waste out front, you know you're in the right place!
Matt was a wonderful host, and explained the brewery history, as well as the names and origins of some of the beers.
Did think about the "beer wench" shirt for someone special, but decided no. Sampled the:
13th Double Wit - strong 8% wheat ale
17th Session IPA
Old Marcus - ESB Bitter
ImPaled Ale - IPA (gEt iT?)
Duke of Winship - American porter
Black Heart Stout - Irish stout
Later that night made it to the Bethlehem Brew works.
Now so we all know this, both Bethlehem and Allentown brewing are combining to be Fegley's. Mike was that perfect brewpub bartender; no pushing, and let you have plenty of time to review the beer list carefully before choosing.
Along with a nice meatloaf dinner, sampled:
Monkey Wrench - Saison
Cold Rolling Cream Ale
The Roof is on Fire Rauchbock (quite good)
Insidious Imperial Stout
Bourbon barrel aged Insidious Imperial Stout
From the Fegley's bottles tried
Hop'solutely - a Tripel IPA
Rude Elf Reserve - Belgian spiced (a bit too spiced maybe)
Always Sunny Pale Ale
Hop Explosion IPA
Back at the Bethlehem Hotel, where surprisingly it was jazz Thursday.
Dan the bartender - who is truly the commensurate professional bartender - served up a sampling of:
Leinenkugel - Canoe Paddler (Kölsch)
Yards Pale Ale
Friday night in Hershey, PA; well first of course you have to go to the Hershey candy store to get fresh Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Fresh is transcendent.
Barb, who was a pleasure to chat with, served up:
Dream Weaver Wheat
Tröegs Pale Ale
Hopback Amber Ale
Trögenator Double Bock
Nugget Nectar (Imperial Amber, a tongue-tingling 93+ IBUs) [#3,800]
Also learned - apparently it's not the weak, but the yeast shall inherit the earth!