In Our Fridge: Free Will Techno IPA

 

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Who could go for a frosty cold IPA?

It has been a busy couple weeks for us due to hosting a housewarming party to christen the new digs. The party was a success, and we are now stocked with beer for the next six months. Apparently our obsession with hops and malts is not a secret – guest after guest came in toting twelve-packs of craft ales or large Belgian bottles. We definitely have plenty to blog about! One of our good friends, Karen, who you may remember from the Lansdale Beer Festival, brought us some sudsy goods from Free Will, which is a small brewery with a hefty following in Perkasie, PA. They have a superb variety of beers which are often spotted in beer stores around the area. Their brewery is a fun one to visit – keep an eye out for a post about it!

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Love our local breweries!

The Techno IPA is a winner. What I liked most about it is that it is notably malty and full-bodied for being a single IPA. However, the hops, while present, are not overwhelming. I likened it to a beer with the body of a double IPA and the hops of a single. It was refreshing paired with our dinner of spicy shrimp and vegetables with some tasting notes of citrus and fruit. It  has an ABV of 7.30% – low enough to be an easy-drinking beer, but still nothing to sniff at. We were impressed by this offering from a brewery nestled right in our neck of the woods!

Check out Free Will here!

Cheers!
Bethany

In Our Fridge: Flying Dog Nugget

Bob Ross would call that a happy little nugget.

It is Monday evening and naturally I am drinking beer and writing about it. Tough life. Tonight’s brew is   new Flying Dog beer, the Nugget Imperial IPA. This is an offering from Flying Dog’s Single Hop Series where they are showcasing just one type of hop in each beer.

Nugget hops seem super popular these days for their pleasing bitterness and floral aroma. I smoke cigars so I couldn’t tell you much about the aroma. I had to ask Bethany to sniff my beer and tell me about it so I could properly review it. She said, “It smells like beer.” I guess I will take her word for it.

What I can tell you is that the beer pours a light amber with a moderate amount of head. As you might imagine the nugget hops really stand out in this beer.

“This has a crisp meowthfeel.”

It has a clean, crisp flavor with the citrus and floral notes of the nugget hop followed by that familiar bitter punch. If you are looking for a light, refreshing beer to sip on the beach on a hot, sunny afternoon this one may not be for you. But if you love clean hops then you will definitely like this beer.

Cheers!

Mike

 

Two Days, Six Breweries: Keuka and Broken Dreams

As promised, we have two more breweries to review from our Finger Lakes trip. We already reviewed one of our favorites, a couple of relative newcomers, and two other Finger Lakes standouts.

For beer adventurers like ourselves, we recommend that you try everything and seek out all of the local breweries in the Finger Lakes and taste everything you can. But if you only have a limited amount of time or if you are not so obsessive about drinking everything in sight as I am, I recommend that you make a visit to these two a priority.

Alpha Predator Double IPA, Anyone?

Keuka Brewing Co.

Keuka Brewing seems to be a pretty popular place along the trail which makes sense considering that they did win an award for best craft brewery in NY state for 2014, which is a pretty high honor in a state that includes Southern Tier and Ommegang. They also won a regional award for their Mocha Imperial stout. I know all of this because I blatantly plagiarized all of these facts from their website which you can visit here.

Keuka brews one of the finest double IPA’s that can be found in the Finger Lakes, the Alpha Predator Double IPA was very impressive for a small local brewery! The balance and the drinkability were on par with any other high quality brewery in the country. It has a high ABV at 9.6% but still has a great hoppy punch at 86 IBUs. It is not too malty and sweet as many other double IPAs can be. The New Zealand hops were really allowed to shine, giving this a crisp bright flavor. I have had a lot of double IPA’s and this one is definitely a winner.

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Keuka Brewing Selection

One of the more interesting selections on tap was the aptly named Afterburner Habañero Ale; a fairly light ale brewed with habañero peppers. I have had this style of beer before and I am not a huge fan so it is really not fair at all for me to review it. Sorry Keuka. I love spicy food and don’t mind sweating and panting when I eat wings but when you drink spicy it seems to hit you in the back of the throat and not on your palette. But in fairness, what we love about touring breweries is seeing all of the creativity and unique takes on different beer styles, so we love that Keuka is going outside of the box and playing with different flavors and ingredients. So, if you like spicy beers than I am sure that you will like this one, but if you are like me, stick with the awesome Alpha Predator.

Besides those two beers Keuka does have a nice selection of other ales, lagers, IPA’s, and the aforementioned, award winning mocha imperial stout which I did not get a chance to try. They have a fun outdoor seating area with some games, umbrellas, and space to set up your own lawn chair and enjoy a growler.

 

So sad, but so good.

The Brewery of Broken Dreams

The Brewery of Broken dreams was another standout on our Finger Lakes trip that really impressed us. They are a newer brewery that opened about a year and a half ago. The name stems from the owners’ long sought after dream of opening their own brewery and all of the heartache they endured before their dream finally became a reality.

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Impressive Variety

Depressing names aside, we are glad that their journey was a long one because it seems that those obstacles and delays gave them time to truly refine their craft. Brewing is like anything else in that it takes time to perfect. As a former chef, I have made the same dishes hundreds of times and I continue to tweak processes and ingredients every time to continually improve the final product. For a newer brewery, The Brewery of Broken Dreams has a very well refined product that tastes like it has been tweaked as much as my world famous hot wings. (not really, but they’re pretty good)

I really enjoyed each and every one of their beers. They were well-balanced and drinkable but still very unique and flavorful.

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Dreamy Beers at Broken Dreams

I loved the Wise Old Ale, partially because I have never had an old ale before and I have a curious desire to taste everything that exists as my waist will confirm. Beer Advocate, being the wealth of beer knowledge that it is, says that old ales are, “low attenuated beers with high levels of dextrins.” I have no idea what any of that means but I can assure you that it tastes way better than it sounds.

Besides the old ale, they had a number of other beers on tap that were just as good as the next. The taproom is in a historic building that was once a wine cellar and its design and style are as refined as the beer itself. I highly recommend stopping here if you are going to be in the area.

Check out their website here.

If you have visited the Brewery of Broken Dreams or Keuka Brewing Company and have stories to share or beers to rate, we would love to hear from you!

Cheers!
Mike and Bethany

Two Days, Six Breweries: Steuben and Bacchus

We managed to visit SIX breweries on and around Seneca, Cayuga, and Keuka Lakes during our weekend visit to the Finger Lakes. The majority of these were new ones for us that we had either missed on prior trips, or that had opened more recently. All in all, they were very impressive not only with quality of beer but also with the friendliness of their staff and ambiance of their breweries.  Check out our visits to Lucky Hare and Heavily Brewing Companies here. Now, here’s the scoop on Steuben and Bacchus Brewing Companies:

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Steuben Brewing Company

 

Steuben Brewing Company: Steuben was one of the standouts during our cruise around Keuka Lake. Established in 2013, Steuben resides on the west side of the lake on sprawling farm land.

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Bearded Beer Bros

This brewery is unique due to its commitment to its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model of brewing, which entails working closely with local farmers as well as the local community for beer production and consumption. It has a clearly loyal following, as it was by far the most crowded brewery we visited on Keuka. The beers were excellent and the atmosphere energetic, which seemed to be buoyed by having the cheapest prices around for a cold pint.

  • Beers: None of their options disappointed. We were most impressed by their two IPAs – the Steuben Club IPA and the Hopyard IPA – and the Vacation Ale was a great beer for sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful view of Keuka Lake.
  • Vibe: The brewery was crowded but with plenty of room to spread out, as people sprawled in lawn chairs and perched on the edge of the deck out back. Overall, it is a fun and energetic place to visit.
  • Check out Steuben Brewing Company here!

Bacchus Brewing Company: We had attempted to visit Bacchus in our past visits to the Finger Lakes region, but due to their somewhat limited hours we hadn’t been able to until this most recent trip. Bacchus is located quite as close to the lakes as the other breweries, but is instead in a town called Dryden outside of Ithaca. We arrived at Bacchus toward the end of a full day of brewery stops, which resulted in tasting a number of beers with already-full and somewhat distended bellies. Nevertheless, the beer was excellent and we had a nice time chatting with our bartender. This brewery opened in 2012 and has since partnered with Americana Vineyards, a Finger Lakes winery.

  • Beers:  We both did a tasting of each of their beers on tap. Some of the standouts included the Irish Red Rye, which had a nice malty flavor with a dry finish, and the Cyclehops IPA, which is a single-hopped beer with a clean and pleasantly bitter taste.
  • Vibe:  The exterior is somewhat stark but the interior has a cozy feel. Our informative and friendly bartender created a warm and inviting atmosphere as we tasted the beers. The tasting room was quiet with only one other couple joining during our time there. Although it lacks the beautiful views of the lake, it was a pleasant place to visit with equally pleasant beers.
  • Check out Bacchus Brewing here!

Cheers!
Bethany and Mike

In Our Fridge: Ommegang Soothsayer  

You would be hard-pressed to find another craft brewery in the United States that better embraces the rich Belgian brewing tradition more than Brewery Ommegang located just outside of Cooperstown, NY. The brewery is nestled comfortably in the foothills of the Catskills Mountains on a 136 acre former hop farm with an impressive entryway styled after a Belgian farmhouse.

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Ommegang Brewery Entryway

I have long been a huge Ommegang fan for its Three Philosophers quadruple, the Hennepin Saison, and the Gnomegang Blonde ale. So, I was very excited to try more of the limited release beers that I have been seeing pop up at our local bottle shops.

This weekend I sampled the Soothsayer Belgian-style Dark Ale. This might quickly become a new favorite Ommagang beer for me, though it would be next to impossible to unseat the bourbon barrel-aged release of the Three Philosophers that we discovered at the brewery this spring. The Soothsayer definitely has all of the characteristics of a strong dark ale but the brewery omitted the spice for this particular offering.

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Soothsayer on the Deck

Although I love Belgian beers I find that the spice can sometimes be overdone, particularly when this style is attempted by American craft breweries. However, Ommegang has truly refined their art and the resulting Soothsayer is a very smooth, malty, and drinkable beer with all of those familiar, distinctive Belgian characteristics without the spice.

It pours very dark brown, almost black, and is brewed with a variety of malts, Spalter Select and Styrian Golding hops, and Ommegang’s signature house yeast. It packs a punch with an ABV of 8.9% but without the alcohol-forward taste. Ommegang advertises tasting notes of coffee and chocolate and suggests pairing with a rich cheese or dark fruit desserts.  I enjoyed mine with a deck, a cigar, and a quiet, sunny Saturday afternoon which I thought was the perfect pairing.

Check it out here: http://www.ommegang.com/blog/meet-soothsayer/

Cheers!
Mike and Bethany

Two days, Six Breweries: Heavily and Lucky Hare

We managed to visit SIX breweries on Seneca and Keuka Lakes during our weekend visit to the Finger Lakes. The majority of these were new ones for us that we had either missed on prior trips, or that had opened more recently. All in all, they were very impressive not only with quality of beer but also with the friendliness of their staff and ambiance of their breweries.  Check out our reviews of Steuben and Bacchus Brewing Companies. Here’s the scoop on Heavily and Lucky Hare Brewing Companies:

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Heavily Brewing Company

  • Heavily Brewing Company: Heavily is a fantastic brewery located in Montour Falls, which is south of Seneca Lake. It is located in a re-purposed dairy barn and has been open for less than two years. We visited in the afternoon, so the atmosphere was pretty quiet, affording us the opportunity to chat with the staff. Their brewery is large, with space for two dart boards and live music. After a couple drinks we threw some darts and learned that we are not good at darts. We loved that they featured beer, wine, and cider from other Finger Lakes breweries in addition to their own fleet of beers.
    • Beers: Mike got a 4-beer tasting flight featuring the Apex IPA, XKE English Bitter, No Doubt Oatmeal Stout, and the Snake Bite, which was a mix of their IPA and a hard cider from Hazlitt.
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      Flight at Heavily

      I went for a pint of the Snake Bite. All of their beers were excellent, with the English Bitter being a standout of the bunch. The Snake Bite was refreshing and different from your typical brewery offering – a great summer beer alternative.

    • Vibe: The feel of the brewery was relaxed and fun. The staff were very friendly, sharing some of the history of their brewery with us. If you want a chill, quiet visit, stick to the afternoon hours – we got the feeling that the pace really picks up in the evenings with live music and visiting food trucks.
    • Check Heavily out for yourself here!
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Brews with a View at Lucky Hare

  • Lucky Hare Brewing Company: Lucky Hare is a very new brewery that opened just six weeks prior to our visit! It is located in Hector, NY, on the eastern side of Seneca Lake, in a quaint, cozy space that made us feel like we were entering someone’s home.
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    Glassware = On Point

    They describe themselves as a “farm brewery,” due to their use of grains and hops straight from the Finger Lakes region. They are also pride themselves on being kind to the environment in their brewing practice and disposal of used ingredients.They had a great deck with views of the lake and a bright, clean open-air feel to the tasting room. We could’ve stayed there all day.

    • Beers: Whenever we visit a newly opened brewery, we have learned to anticipate some not-so-great beers as it often takes time for breweries to find their footing. This was not the case at Lucky Hare. We were very impressed by every beer that we sampled.
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      On Tap at Lucky Hare

      We both got tasting flights and tried almost every beer they had on tap, including the Cezanne French Saison, London Gentleman ESB, Falcon Punch IPA, TwoCan Slam Wheat Pale Ale, Milk Milk Milk Stout, and Millenial Falcon Double IPA. Our favorites were the saison and the double IPA – both incredibly drinkable and well-balanced.

    • Vibe: This is a great place to kick back and enjoy a beautiful view of the lake with some impressive beers. It wasn’t overcrowded, and we were able to find plenty of seating on the deck and in the tasting room. The staff were friendly and inviting. A great addition to the Finger Lakes brewery line-up!
    • Check Lucky Hare out here!

Check back soon for the next set of breweries from our Beer-end at the Finger Lakes!

Cheers,

Bethany and Mike

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Two Pints at the Finger Lakes

 

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Over the Fourth of July weekend Bethany and I had the opportunity to book a last minute mini vacation to the Finger Lakes region of New York. The Finger Lakes have long been known for its multitude of wineries, and more recently breweries, which surround the lakes.

Apparently, the valleys around the lakes provide an ideal environment for both grapes and hops, or so I’ve been told. img_6602It was only natural that along these well-worn wine trails that craft breweries would pop up to serve the throngs of booze-loving tourists who thirsted for something other than yet another Riesling.

As booze-loving tourists ourselves we have been to the Finger Lakes a few times before and we love the area for its beautiful lakes, captivating sunsets, goat farms and, of course, craft breweries. There is no shortage of quaint inns and luxurious B&B’s to stay at…unless of course you try to book a trip the day before a long 4th of July weekend. We could not find rooms at any of our usual spots, so we turned to Airbnb. This was the first time we used Airbnb, so we were a little cautious, but we eventually found a beautiful alpaca farm not too far outside of Ithaca with a room available. The farm had no reviews on Airbnb so we bombarded the poor owner with questions about her rental history and moral character in an effort to ascertain the risk of being murdered in our sleep. troegsNGDespite a vague sense that we would, in fact, be murdered in our sleep, we booked the place and made our way late Friday evening.

When we arrived at dusk we found a charming wood and stone building, gorgeous garden, a pond, alpacas and peacocks. The owner showed us to our garden house lodging with canopy bed and seriously relaxing outdoor living room drenched in pillows and cushions were Bethany and I spent our mornings reading and evenings enjoying our Troegs Nimble Giant…or Giant Nimble…Giant Nipple… or Nipple Giant depending on how many Bethany has had (check out our Nimble Giant review here!).

The Giant Nipple isn’t all we drank last weekend, however. As always, we returned to img_6624some of our favorite Finger Lakes breweries (see our earlier post on Two Goats Brewery) and scoured the area for new ones that always seem to be popping up which we will be reviewing in a future post. In our travels we stopped at the Ithaca Farmers Market, which is great little destination for fresh produce, meat, and hot meals; however, I will warn you to ride your bike or walk if you can because traffic is a mess on Saturday mornings.

We also stopped at one of our favorite places, The Lively Run goat dairy where you can buy cheese and have your fingers and shirt cuffs nibbled by silly goats that will also let you pet them a little.  They have a cheese tasting for just a few bucks and some amazing cheesecakes and truffles.

Check out our experiences visiting the breweries we toured on our trip:

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Goat at Lively Run

Useful links:

Cheers!

Mike and Bethany