Two Pints Takes the Road Less Traveled

img_0542This past weekend we found ourselves trekking up to New England once again, though this time heading to Boston for the weekend to celebrate Bethany’s grandfather’s 90th (!) birthday. It wouldn’t be a Two Pints trip without a smattering of brewery visits interspersed with family time. One of our favorite past times is seeking out local breweries in areas we pass through on our way to our various destinations — it helps break up long drives and gives us an opportunity to visit breweries we may not otherwise get to see. We were excited to see that Two Roads Brewing Co, located in Stratford, CT, was just a few minutes off Route 95 north, about a third of the way through the state and just under three hours from the Lehigh Valley. Looking back over our extensive Instagram collection, we were surprised by how many Two Roads beers we have enjoyed and shared – they have been consistently solid with top-notch flavors.

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The brewery itself did not disappoint! It is housed in the former Baird press manufacturing building which was erected in 1911. The brewery makes great use of the space, stylishly blending a modern, open-air taproom overlooking the brewing area while maintaining the historic feel of the original building. The large, rectangular bar sits in the center of the taproom with seating on all sides, surrounded by some smaller tables spaced throughout. The taproom creates a jovial inviting atmosphere perfect for enjoying their beer. Speaking of beer, we didn’t have a beer we didn’t like from the ten we sampled in our flights. We tried most of the year-round options, including their best-selling Honeyspot Road IPA, Worker’s Comp Saison, Road2Ruin Double IPA, and the Nitro Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout — out of this group, the Double IPA and the Coffee Stout were our favorites. It’s not east to find a perfectly balanced double IPA that doesn’t leave you feeling punched in the mouth by hops, but is bitter enough to leave you craving your next sip; however, Two Roads has absolutely mastered that art in the Road2Ruin.  The coffee stout was also a delight — strong and flavorful cold-brew taste with a clean finish, perfect for the chilly weather.  We also imbibed some of their more limited releases.  img_0540-1We were impressed by the Miles 2 Go, an unfiltered pale ale brewed using decoction mashing, an intensive multi-step mash process thought to be the best method to fully release the malt flavors. The labor paid off in this beer, as it had an incredibly full flavor of hops as well as the sweeter malt taste — it was far more complex and interesting in taste than your standard pale ale. We love our history, so it is exciting when brewers pay homage to old methods of the craft. We also sampled a pilot release beer, the Field Yield Pale Ale. This beer was brewed with fresh citrus and floral-forward hops grown and harvested from the brewery’s own hopyard. It is described as having “fresh and hoppy effervescence,” which is accurate — the freshness of the hops give it a bright, bursting, yet light bitterness with clear notes of citrus and grapefruit.

All in all, we were downright bummed to have to leave Two Roads to continue on our journey. It is a fantastic brewery to visit with a great vibe and even better beers. Excitingly, Two Roads recently broke ground on Area Two Experimental Brewing which will be built adjacent to the current brewery and will feature Brett, sour, and spirit-based beers. It is set to open in Fall of 2018, so keep an eye out for their new releases.

Stay tuned for our upcoming reviews of Trillium Brewing, Downeast Cider, and Harpoon Brewing! Check out other brewery reviews here.

Cheers!

Bethany and Mike

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In Our Fridge: London Balling

IMG_0738 (1)Thanks to Cork & Cage I have yet another unique beer from a brewery that’s new to me, Against the Grain. They are located in Louisville, Kentucky and it looks like they have a pretty cool brewpub and smokehouse. They have a huge list of beers, all with awesome can art. Tonight I am trying London Balling , their English-style barleywine that’s aged for three months in Angel’s Envy bourbon barrels.

You may have guessed this from the design of the can, but if you are looking for a refined, sophisticated barleywine, this is definitely not the beer for you. The London Balling is a giant punch in the face of deep, roasty, malty, bourbon barrel-aged booze. It is a massive 12.5% ABV, so the pounder I drank is more than enough for the average mortal.  They recommend drinking this right out of a can but I poured it into a goblet because I don’t like to be told what to do. It poured a deep amber color with a glowing cherry halo. The bold malts have hints of vanilla and the Nugget and Kent Golding hops pack a bitter punch that will finish off the heartiest of drinkers.

Overall, this beer is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you have a masochistic streak or are the type of person that loves a painfully powerful beer like Dennis Rodman longs for the sting of a new tattoo, then this might be the beer for you.

If you have been to the Against the Grain brewery we would love to hear all about it.

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