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Had a bit of a back and forth with Will Gordon on Twitter about bars, particularly about random super sketchy type bars, like ones in grocery stores or here in NJ where there are some extremely suspect liquor stores that seem mostly empty and also have a bar that only seems to have one dusty tap and also seems to come pre-equipped with it’s own regular drinker. This is probably a weird artifact of New Jersey liquor license rules, which are real confusing and bad.
At this point, I’d be happy with just about any bar, and really in any format. Any port in the storm.
For me the most recent incarnations of this have been brewery tap rooms, but the standard bar works too. I’ve worked in New York City on and off over the years, and have probably interviewed for dozens of jobs during that time. Living in the suburbs and traveling to the city always is a process, you almost always have some time to spare before or after depending on the trains, and hell, you’re in NYC, might as well take advantage and see what you can see. For me I’d often find a good bar, one serving food, and try to arrange it so I’d have time to chill and have a beer or two in a new place. One thing to do, and a lot of time to kill around it.
There’s something pretty zen about just chilling out in a new place. These days it’s hard not to whittle away the time also on your phone, zoning out your surroundings, but it’s good to put the phone down and just absorb the atmosphere. Before smartphones, I remember a nice afternoon at McSorley’s with sawdust on the floor and only two types of beer. I ordered a burger, brought a book, and just read on and off in the dim light of the bar for hours.
Another vivid memory was a lunch I had at Reichenbach Hall in midtown. A German beer hall serving lots of standard German beer and food, just half a block from Penn Station, so it was a great location to kill some time if you got in early, or had a while until your train out. I recall one particular time just chilling at the bar post-lunch when a young man in a suit came in, to this German beer hall, and had three shots of Vodka in pretty quick succession and then left within 15 minutes. It just felt so at odds with the place that it stuck. Was he building up courage for an interview? For a date? For something else? Why this beer hall of all the places on the block?
A third story to leave you with today, this one featuring another person! Strange right? I’m no stranger to the solo bar act, but given quarantine the idea of going to a bar WITH someone, has a certain allure. I harken back to early 2000s, still living at my parents post-college, where my future wife had a job but I didn’t. She’d turned in, but I ended up at a standard irish dive bar with a friend. I don’t know if the craft beer movement has totally killed the “Irish bar” as some sort of default dive, or if I simply don’t notice them anymore, but this one, called the Dubliner, was typical. We’d been semi-regular there for a few months, so it was an easy “Let’s just go there and get a beer or two.”. They did bad pours of Guinness, crappy Half and Halfs, and had some weird bottled mead that wasn’t particularly good either. We had a few beers, chatted for a while, and went home.
Nothing particularly amazing or special about any of these stories, and yet, I’d love to repeat any of them soon. Let’s get on that.
Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s waiting for new patio to be done so he can at least sit outside with a beer. You can also email him at email@example.com.
Decided to take the team out for a team builder/happy hour, and to do that, what’s better than a darts tournament? We discovered a relatively new brewery/winery in town, just south of the Brockport campus: RG Brewery and Five Sons Winery.
The setting was fantastic; a small tasting room with a porch overlooking a large yard. (Hard to set the outdoor scene, as we were in the middle of a snowstorm at the time. Also, bonus: we were greeted at the door by a couple of friendly dogs.) The tasting room has a back door, which leads through the kitchen into the production facility, which features a wall of dartboards and made for a nice relaxed office outing.
The list of beers is small, but complete and varied enough; I tried their Dragon’s Breath Stout, which had a little more heat than I like in my beer. I’ve tried a few “hot” beers now, and as much as I like my food spicy, I don’t want that stuff in my drinks.
Their Hopperhead IPA and All America DIPA however, were much better. The Hopperhead actually had a little more bite than I expected – it’s listed at 125 IBUs. The All America a little less, and it was definitely smoother.
Food is available as well. They have what can really be described as typical pub fare; burgers and quesadillas and whatnot, all fresh-made in their small kitchen in the back.
But what caught my eye was their ice cream! They use their own wine and beer to make fresh ice cream. And yes, it was snowing, but there was no way I was passing this up.
I tried a flight of four: the Scotch ale, an Apple Pie torte (which I believe was one of their wine offerings), a porter, and the Hopperhead. As anticipated, the apple one was the most traditional flavor. The porter didn’t seem to have much kick at all, and the bitterness of the Hopperhead overpowered any sweetness in the ice cream. But the Scotch ale ice cream was outstanding. Just enough kick, just enough sweetness.
All in all, a solid visit from me. Worth making a special trip? Probably if the weather is nice, yes, to sit outside on the porch. Looks like they’ve got some events planned, including an oyster night and a chocolate pairing night, coming in the next few weeks, so I’d anticipate keeping an eye on their site for future things that might make it worth a special trip.
I’m not usually a dark beer drinker – I like my beer hoppy – but on The Longest Night for the winter solstice, well, you have to put old feelings aside and try something new.
Rising Storm is a fantastic new brewery just off Exit 9 on Route 390 in Avon, NY. It’s a quick half hour ride from downtown Rochester, and only a few minutes from Mortalis, another new local place that’s quickly developing a rabid following.
The brainchild of Bill Blake and Jeff Reidl, fraternity brothers from our college days at Geneseo (although I’ve got a good eight or so years on them), Rising Storm simply brews good beer. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; no crazy flavors, no gimmicks. Just a good variety of styles done right. (Their first NEIPA, called The What, earned my first 5 on Untappd.)
The rest of the Barley Prose team challenged me to blog a dark beer, though, so I figured this was the way to go. Nocturnal Storm is a vanilla porter that tastes pretty much exactly what I expected a vanilla porter to taste like: a little tinge of vanilla and coffee, but very smooth and very drinkable. I’ve downed an entire crowler this evening and I’ve enjoyed every sip. It’s only 5.8% ABV, so it’s not overwhelming either, but has enough kick to count.
Bill and Jeff are adding live music in the next couple of weeks, and they’ve worked hard to develop a strong local following. Keep an eye on this little place in Livingston County that’s going to make some noise in 2019. (Tell Sully or Doupe at the bar that Chris sent you.)
Time for another installment of Run, Relax, Refresh, where our intrepid blogger combines a post-workday run with a stop at one of Syracuse’s fine local craft brewing establishments.
This day’s journey took me along route 11 in North Syracuse, New York, to some residential side streets, and then spat me back out along the narrow shoulder of Taft Road, plus a couple of detours tacked on to get me to the 30 minute mark (my normal weekday exercise goal).
The route 11 portion of this run wasn’t bad, thanks to there being a sidewalk available set safely away from the road. I was able to run past some of the town’s more quirky local businesses, such as Earthbound Metaphysical. I was hoping that this was a “Ray’s Occult Books” style shop of necromancy and paranormal resources, though it turns out they just sell fancy coffees and tees.
When I realized my route as originally designed was going to clock in at around 2.75 miles, I decided to tack on a couple of small detours. One was to run down the access road at Hinerwadels, a famous local clambake joint that has sadly closed their doors this year (luckily, their gravel driveway remained accessible). I also detoured over to the local junior high school and added a quarter mile by running a lap on their local track. These both had the added benefit of getting me off of Taft Road, where the shoulder is about as wide as Kate Moss’ torso.
The intermediate roads on this route, through residential North Syracuse neighborhoods, did have a nice display of foliage out for enjoyment.
A good workout, overall, not the most scenic path I ever traversed, but it conveniently started and ended at the Full Boar Brewery and Tap Room.
This awesome little joint opened in 2016 in a local shopping plaza — always a plus, ensuring that there’s plenty of parking and that it’s not too conspicuous to leave my vehicle in front for 30 minutes without shopping, while I get my run in.
This place has a lot to offer, first off — each table has a caddy of individual sized snacks, chips and pretzels.
I personally went with the Dipsy Doodles, which are like Sun Chips’ sexy naked cousin in the snack world.
Lots of comfortable seating abound as well as snappy decorations, as you can see.
But now, let’s remember, this isn’t an HGTV decorating show. I’m not here to comment on the feng shui, I’m here to partake.
They have a great selection of brews, of all colors and flavors. Not to mention these tricked out growlers converted into hanging lights (OK WE GET IT DECORATOR-BOY).
I sampled the peanut butter and jelly flavored blonde, which was just a bit too odd, and then had a sour mango, which was a refreshing enough beer (though I prefer my sour mango beers to be sourer and mangoier).
The real star of this “triple R” was the chocolate peanut butter stout.
It seems all too appropriate to enjoy one of these beers on the week of Halloween. After a couple of days spent “borrowing” from my kids’ trick or treating haul, this stout was scratching me right where I itched (not in the sweaty runner crotch kind of itch, more of the emotional yearning sort of way). It’s basically a Reese’s peanut butter cup, only in beer form (which is candy for the liver).
As per the menu, this beer is a 6.6% ABV choice and ITBMCBB*, it’s “smooth and sweet with a deep roast flavor. Nice peanut butter nose balances well with the dark Chocolate.” At $5 for a 16 oz portion, it hits my wallet’s sweet tooth as well.
As for the flavor, well, it’s sweet without being “cloyingly sweet.” (Note: that phrase is borrowed from every single episode of the show Chopped ever to air on the Food Fatty network). And it’s a stout, with delicious roasted flavor. I enjoy many stouts and this one ranks very high on my list. Shout out to the great pint glasses that the Full Boar uses, too. That groove at the top is perfectly contoured to my fat beer loving lower lip.
The Prose-inator loved it too! No surprise there. How would you describe it, Prose-inator?
“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a
made love to a
in the middle of a
while listening to the Greatest Hits Album of the world’s greatest band, ever, that being of course
and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of
One brewery dominates the beer scene in Lake George.
I spent Labor Day weekend in Lake George, which is a lake upstate New York that’s a popular getaway in the region. It’s a small summer town in the Adirondack Mountains, much like many lake or beach type communities across the country, and as such is prone to much of the same cliches and ‘Disneyified’ downtown featured elsewhere. Fudge, funny t-shirts, arcades, mini-golf, etc. At least it avoids the costumed characters begging for tips that litter places like Times Square and the Las Vegas Strip.
It’s not a beer destination, but there is beer. The town isn’t big and while it’s not super far from Albany, it’s still pretty rural. There’s access to plenty of beer, and let’s not forget that Vermont is very very close, but one brewery dominates the landscape in Lake George and that’s Adirondack Brewery, brewed right there in town.
Seemingly every restaurant has a few Adirondack taps, and it’s one of the beers you can reliably find at Stewart’s, one of the gas station convenience store chains prevalent in upstate New York. It’s a nice experience to have a brewery well integrated into a town life. Like a cozy companion wherever you go.
It was late when we first arrived, as we’d all worked that day. Our first meal was at a BBQ joint a short five minute walk away that could seat us right away. The first beer of the vacation is a lot of pressure; can it deliver? I opted for Adirondack Brewing’s Lake George IPA (Wave #5) to pair with a sampler of various forms of meat. It hit the spot.
As is proper for any vacation, we stopped at a convenience store on the way back for snacks and drinks, and beer, to have in the hotel room. We stopped at the aforementioned Stewart’s; Ice cream for the kids, beer for us. I picked up a six-pack of Adirondack Bear Naked Amber. A good, shareable, easy-drinking beer. I opened the first one sitting outside an electric fire the hotel has while sitting in, fittingly, an Adirondack chair.
Later on that weekend we found ourselves at a themed restaurant that featured hats for the kids with Moose Antlers. We were downtown waiting to see the fireworks, it was the unofficial end to summer, looking forward to fall. What better beer to celebrate that with than the NYS Oktoberfest?
My favorite of the bunch was the Bear Naked Amber Ale. I’m glad that’s the one I had a six-pack of that made its way back home with me. My only regret was that we never actually made it to the Adirondack brewpub itself.
It pours a beautiful copper color.
It’s got some nice caramel notes, but plenty of estery/fruity notes, specifically cherry.
It’s a scrumptious tasting beer, with some light biscuity notes. It’s on the sweeter side but it’s balanced nicely by hops with some nice spicy bite to them. Like you’d get if you made that biscuit was made with some rye or other non-wheat grain.
The mouth feel is slick; it coats the tongue and leaves that dry stickiness that has you begging for another sip.
Overall this is a well-done and delicious amber ale, on the malty end of the fairly wide spectrum, and a good companion to a wide variety of drinking circumstances.
Follow BarleyProse on Twitter and me on Untappd. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve been drinking Oktoberfest almost non-stop since that first one.