The Stash Renewed

While in Syracuse NY for a couple of days, a brief side trip this morning to the Galeville Grocery sees the stash now renewed for another month or two. As a result, I have stories to write about Middles Ages, Mendocino of Saragota, Magic Hat, plus two new to try from each of Youngs, Ommegang and Weyerbacher (their imperial stout and imperial pumpkin ale) as well as a bunch of singles including Stoudts ESB.

The night before found me at Clark’s Ale House and its neighbour the Blue Tusk. I didn’t take notes or photos taking the time to just enjoy these two great bars and introducing them to pals. Both institutions handle the beers fantastically, coaxing hidden flavours out with their cleanliness and care. I had my first taste of Lake Placid’s keg only brown ale last night at Clark’s – very pleasant nut brown with what I thought was an interesting subtle spiciness in either the hop or yeast selection. At the Blue Tusk I settled into an extended relationship with Dogfish Head 60 Minute Ale, the intermediary between their Shelter Pale Ale and 90 Minute IPA which sits in what I now think of as my happy place. There are snugs at the Blue Tusk, those little rooms off rooms that give you a quieter spot, time to talk and listen. The one farthest from the bar sits eight in benches like slightly reclined pews.

St. Veronus, Peterborough, Ontario


So we went to Peterborough yesterday to see old friends and we had lunch at St. Veronus, a cafe/bar with a subtitle: “Belgian beer temple”…truer stv1words were never writ. We are now looking for jobs in the Peterborough area.  Unaccustomed to great selection, great service, reasonable prices, care and attention to interesting beer and fantastic food selection am I in a Canadian beer spot that I kept mentally making US exchange rate calculations as I browsed the menu and the beer lists. Then I would shake my head and say…this place is actually in Ontario…and Ontario is in Canada.








I was overwhelmed at the outset when I realized what lay before me. I did not know what to order for a first drink so I just wandered around the two room cafe taking pictures. I mentioned the fact of this here website and, without shifting into a higher gear of service in any respect, the extremely helpful staff answered any number of my deer-in-headlight questions. They even allowed themselves to engage in a little beer porn for the camera as illustrated below. I settled on a Rochefort 6, a new beer to me. At 7.5% it was off their “new arrivals” short list. It was heaven. From recollection malty, a tad burlappy with even a little chocolate perhaps. Others had various lambics and Gueze as well as a very nice Barbar honey ale which I got to sip. Loverly. Just look at the bar fridge – now that’s real shock and awe.








Despite the excellent price and variety of the beer, however, it was the food that actually made the visit. St Veronus offers a selection of grilled thick sandwiches with thoughtful ingredients that match the beers very well. The best I thought was the cheddar, slow cooked onion goo and slow cooked apple goo sandwich – it has an other better name but whatever it is called it was scoffed down by a seven year old in mucho haste. For my second sip, I had a local micro, Church-key Northumberland Ale. I did not get a six of that when I visited the brewery last winter but I will next time I go. It was a full malt-fruit forward rich pale ale under what must be the best beer handling conditions I have met in Ontario. And only 4.50 CND for a 500 ml pint.

Definitely a first of many visits.



Quick Note: St. Peter’s Old Style Porter

This beer from St. Peter’s is a ruby brown ale under an oddly ivory head. I’ve never seen an ivory head: tan plus hints of green-grey. This is old style, like Burton Bridge porter: barley candy plus molasses with lime and green hops. The yeast is sour cream or soured milk or something in between. Yet all well balanced.

Is this the holy grail? A 1750s porter? Likely not sour enough but colonial US farmers drank diluted vinegar so go figure.

Three More US Pale Ales

A Sunday afternoon on a balcony overlooking the St.Lawrence and Lake Ontario and these three fine examples of American brewing. On the radio, the Yankees and Red Sox in the rubber game of the weekend’s series. Perfection.

Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale: From Delaware. I picked up a few of this ale last weekend in Syracuse and am glad I did. It poured white foam over fairly still orangey amber ale with a relatively soft mouthfeel. The hops are not overwhelming with their green profile. The beer is minerally even salty. There is lots of toasty bread crust graininess to the malt. Also, a sort of shadow of unsweetened chocolate lingers – maybe not from the use of chocolate malt so much as the combination of pale malt fruit, bitter hops and a modest but rish yeast strain. The finish is dry with a little white pepper heat. A very well balanced pale ale that satisfied even though it is not juicey moreish.

Stoudt’s American Pale Ale: From Pennsylvania. A rocky half-inch of white head resovles to foam and rim leaving lace. The ale is deep golden straw. Its aroma is floral as is the first sip. It is a far hoppier take on the pale ale compared to the Shelter Pale Ale. Again, it is minerally with green weediness to the floral hops. The strength of the hops overwhelms the pale malt, exposed and lightly braced as it is by a small addition of crystal malt. There is some toffee but less than you would expect from an English pale ale or a US IPA. The finish has some pear juiciness and accordingly a bit of moreishness. If this were any other brewer this might be their IPA but given Stoudt’s dedication to the big as well as their Double IPA this is a relative pip squeek.

Stone IPA: From California. Again a similar white rim over orangey amber ale, though lighter on the red notes, halfway to deep golden straw. Similar to the Stoudts but softer with less weedy green in the hops, more grapefruit rind and green herb. They are chewy without being bombastic – as Stone
can well be. A bit hot in the mddle, it has less of the salty mineral feel of the Stoudts. The yeast is creamy but quite subdued, just a rich note behind it all. Really nice if you like a hoppy ale and perfect with ballpark peanuts in the shell for the game – even if the Yanks beat the Sox 1-0.



The Stash

The results of a trip south are often a slowly decreasing but merry little stash of singles in the closet and the fridge for the best part of a month as reviews get written. Sweet 1978 Rawlings, too. I am pretty sure I have only had two of the bottles previously, the McEwans Export and the Smuttynose Hefe. The future is unknown and that is great. I see about new brewery reviews including those nine new bottles for me from Middle Ages, three from Wolavers, four from Southern Tier as well as a couple of new Wittes and my first Mackeson’s XXX stout.

One other pick-up at FLBC was a variety 12-pack of Great Divide ales from Denver Colorado which has obeyed my two rules for variety twelve packs: give me four types, three bottles each, and no lager. If you like lager you likely won’t like an ESB or IPA and if you like those the lager is likely just a waste of space. Saranac makes a largely lager 6×2 pack which is quite legitimate…though I don’t think I would buy one with great anticipation.

Red’s Dairy Freeze, South Portland, Maine

Illustrated is the “Chocolate Boston”, which is a chocolate milkshake with chocolate soft serve ice cream topped with chocolate sauce. The “Boston” can be had with other flavours but it is always milkshake plus soft serve plus sauce. Eaten with a spoon and a straw, it is apparently known only to Red’s of South Portland and their customers but we stand to be corrected.

I do not love chocolate but this actually inched me a little towards that affliction. I ate it so fast I got an ice cream chest ache.

New York: Sackets Harbor Brewing Co., Sackets Harbor


We visited the Sackets Harbor Brewing Co. in the North Country of New York State last weekend. Sitting at the eastern end of Lake Ontario in the bay that once saw one-half of the US navy located there around two hundred years ago, the brew pub is in one of the prettiest settings around for a glass of real ale. It is also one of the smallest brew pubs I have ever seen. The building set on the waterfront next to a marina is divided into a pub side and a dining side with their DME brewing equipment set up in the front with a view from the pub. There is also a patio on the marina side.





We really didn’t take in the full range of the beers offered as we were in the middle of a day long Father’s Day upstate road trip with two little kids in tow but that is ofter a good measure of the capability of a pub. It was kid friendly if only because of the active harbour out the window of the dining room – count the boats, kids. While that was going on, I had their stout which I was really pleased with – full of flavour with a bit of chocolate and a bit on minty hops over a clean milky yeast. We also tried a half pint of a cherry wheat which was clean and refreshing with a solid cherry flavour which leaned a bit towards cherry pie as opposed to cherry picked off the tree.





I had had lowish expectations as I had not fallen in love with the brewery’s bottling of its 1812 Ale when I tried it a year and a half ago. Not only was that view of their beer dead wrong based on that sample given the two we tasted – but just the food and the view at the pub would make it a destination regardless of the beer. I will have to try their 1812 again.¹ Lew points out that Sackets Harbor has a new brew master, Andy Gersten, who previously had worked at Oswego at King Arthur’s reviewed here last month. I liked his last stop, too.

Three advocatonians have visited and reported.

¹ 29 Dec. 2006: I have two left in the stash now and can confirm they are quite lovely session ambers. I will do a proper review soon.


Big Hop Bombs: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Delaware USA

We were this close to staying at a hotel between the Dogfish Head Brewery and the beach at Lewes, Delaware…this close…then I bailed on the great southern credit card run and opted for the nearer north-east of New England. I would have learned so much about Dogfish Head – not to mention and Victory Brewing in PA on the way. Ah well, next year in Delaware.

Thanks, however, to the good folks of Galeville a little bit of the Delaware shore makes it upstate. I picked up this four pack of these 9% brews for about 8 bucks US which is a good deal. I don’t need six 9% brews and that savings allows me to pick up another quart of Rogue or maybe a little something from Middle Ages. I have had Dogfish’s Pumkin’ Ale and their Belgian dark strong ale, Raison D’Etre. Both are quality with a bit of querky and expect something of the same and get it. The brewery explains the “minute” the 90 minute IPA in this way:

Our family of Indian Pale Ales includes the 60 Minute I.P.A. and the 90 Minute Imperial I.P.A.. Both feature our unique continuous hopping program, where they receive a single hop addition that lasts over the course of the entire boil (60 and 90 minutes respectively). This breakthrough hopping method makes for a beer that is extremely hoppy without being overly bitter.

The hop effect is very nice, giving great green gobs of hops which bite the back of the throat coat the mouth and fill the nose while maintaining a mellowness which envelops the ale’s hot boozy heat. It would make a heck of a match for hot Cambodian soup or a curry. The effect of the continuous hopping also is a lack of layering or steps in the flavours. There is not so much a noticing of that nutty tone or that raisin in the corner as a continuum of shifting thoughts bouncing off the palate. Under and amongst all the hops and heat is sweet pale malt with maybe cherry/apricot notes as well as perhaps a twong of crystal sultana and definitely a grainy edge in the finish. The body is medium-large without quite the bigness of a Stone.

At the beer advocate an astounding 458 reviews of this can be found and we have learned that 2% of those who post there have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, like this chappie:

Clear rusty tan in color, slim foam. A small hint of hops in the smell but not to much at all. The taste is hoppy but is unfortunatley covered by the terrible alcohol taste , like wise it leaves an after taste of alcohol. IMHO not a great brew, not at all.

So…he gave an Imperial IPA at nine percent 2.2/5 for being hot and boozy. Please stay away from the Belgians, pal. Hands off the Belgians.

One of the greats: hot, hoppy and handsome.

New York: King Arthur’s Steakhouse & Brewery, Oswego

While across the way on the weekend we had dinner at King Arthur’s Steakhouse and Brewery in Oswego, New York and we were very glad we did. I had a little problem with the camera but I expect that you get a sense of the place from these photos. The building is quite impressive and is on one of the main corners downtown in this small city of 18,000 or so on Lake Ontario. The dining area is split into two, a bar and a restaurant. The site also has conference rooms on the second floor as well as suites for overnight on the third.





We sat in the restaurant side and found the place very kid friendly – important when you have a five and a six. Mac and cheese and other friendly food kept them happy for a while allowing we parents to enjoy ourselves. I tried a six sip sampler before dinner and had their IPA with a steak. Across the table, a shepherd’s pie was partnered with an Oatmeal Stout. Also, I am happy to report that the medieval theme was fairly tastefully done. It is not like the wait staff have to dress like court jesters or anything, it avoids Monty Python references and the mural of the Knights of the Round Table sits up in a recessed part of the ceiling. The bright gleaming brew equipment – made in Canada by the way – gets much more prominent place of pride.





Lew Bryson, in his book New York Breweries, does not cover the spot as it came into being after his first edition came out – but he does provide notes from his visits over the last couple of years at his websites’ updates page for New York:

Opened in the Buckout-Jones building (1st & Bridge Sts., Oswego, right by the river), site of a former brewery (Buckout). Strongly medieval in theming. Visited 8/12/03: not good news, I’m afraid. Very cool place, great location, but two were horrible, others mostly flawed, one good one. A new brewer had just been hired, I’m hoping for the best.

12/19/04 Update: Just saw on Pubcrawler that former Empire Syracuse brewer Andy Gersten is brewing at King Arthur’s. This is great news for both the pub and Andy; glad to see him working and them getting his excellent beers!

4/22/05: Andy Gersten has moved on to Sackets Harbor (excellent news for them), will be replaced by former Flour City (and Empire Rochester) brewer Greg Smith.

The beer was excellent. Earlier in the afternoon, I had taken a long drink of Oswego water and thought how good it was, soft and likely drawn from the lake. The beer had that quality as well. I scribbled some notes from the sampler. The brown as lighter on hops than most US browns, had a nice medium body with some chocolate notes. The APA was malty with some crystal sweetness and good green hops. The IPA was higher test with lots of fresh green hops and loads of fruity malt. It went really well with a blue cheese toped Delmonico with garlic mash totties – which is something of a testamony to its size. The oatmeal stout was thick espresso mocha with a rich creamy yeast. It could take on a scoop of Hagan Daz vanilla as a float. I thought the Old English did not have any noticeable stale or soured quality that should be part of the style and, yet, the Bitter was a light green English hopped clean sip. Drinky drama trying to think it all through.





All in all, despite the shifting brewmasters over the last two years that Lew notes, I think they have achieved quality. The ingredients are clearly first rate and the choice of yeast is particularly well suited to the local water – something not often achieved by many good brewers wanting to copy a style rather than express what is local. Two litre growlers were available for take-away. We refrained but if I was passing though, I would definitely pop in for one of the IPA and another of the Oatmeal Stout.


Denmark, New York

There are places you hit the brakes. It can be a view but more often than not it is the question of what the heck was going on here. As you can see from these pictures, there are three great stone houses in a row on a rather quite back country road in Lewis County New York. The afternoon shadow across their fronts confirm their eastern orientation facing across the valley. But why, away from a river where mills could develop, did this small hamlet have such a grand life almost 200 years ago. The sign next to the pink sided Freedom Wright’s Inn gives some indication of the importance of the place at one time, as does the solid but closed up church.








The first occupation by Europeans of the area comes relatively late or so sayeth the 1927 The History of New York State (pub., Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc.):

The settlement of the northern section of New York was greatly delayed by the ignorance concerning it. Old maps of the section named it Irocoicia. “The Land of the Iroquois,” or Coughsagraga, “The Dismal Wilderness.” Travelers who skirted the edges said it was a region of swamps and mountain barrens. Sauthier’s map, published in England in 1777 and supposed to be the beat and latest in its information, mentions it as “This marshy tract is full of beavers and otters.” There is no map earlier than 1795 that shows a trace of the Black River. Soldiers, possibly those of Sullivan’s expedition, knew something of the territory. But it is in no way surprising that when offers were made to the land commissioners of New York for these supposed waste barrens, that they should be accepted readily, and the land sold for mere pittances and on the easiest of terms. One of the many sales, and the, was that to Macomb. On June 22, 1791, Alexander Macomb made an offer for certain lands, the payment to be one-sixth part of the purchase price yearly until the account was complete, no interest to be charged. The price offered was eight pence an acre. Macomb secured net 3,670,715 acres, divided into six great tracts. The one numbered four included the larger part of the counties of Jefferson and Lewis. Macomb conveyed this tract, with others, to William constable, and he in turn part to others sop that the deeds to Lewis County are traced back to nine great tracts known as: Black River, Inmans’ Triangle, Constable’s Four Towns, Brantingham, Brown’s, Watson’s, Castorland, and Great Tract Number Four.

Early settlers included Bedells and many others. Denmark was the first township to be constituted in 1807 after the founding of the county two years before. Someone of local legal note – who attened Denmark Academy and who studied law… in Lowville – was born there in 1825 as was an Iowa banker in 1833 as well as a Mayor of Ottawa. It wasn’t until about 40 years after its founding that the now larger towns formed in the valley below:

In 1848, the towns of Croghan and New Bremen were formed by French, German, and Swiss immigrants.

These towns were likely created as part of the development of the Black River canal, an unprofitable spur off the Erie, which opened in 1855. Denmark was on one branch of the underground railroad, moving slaves from the US south to Canada. A golf club formed in 1925.