For the past few months I’ve been finishing the interior of our new home and started having issues with numbness in my right hand from repetitive motion—painting, trowel, grout, etc., not from opening too many beers—so Cindy convinced me to take a week off and join her on a business trip.
She had a few clients to visit in eastern New York so we blazed a snowy trail from Queensbury to Ithaca, with a Stop in Johnstown in between. The idea was that I would rest my hands, catch up on some writing (like this), and rehearse for an upcoming gig in Rochester. I planned on that, but also began looking for breweries and decent pubs in the areas we’d be traveling. Because… because.
It was a quick trip. Not much time to hit every brewery or pub and as it turns out most of the breweries I found were closed on the days we were in town anyway.
The Queensbury Hotel served as our first night accommodation. We’ve been here before, so I won’t go into detail about The Queensbury or much of the other breweries in the immediate area. Check the post link above for deets on that.
The first night we braved brutal cold and cautiously walked across the icy street, through a snow-covered alley and around the corner to an upscale Japanese sushi restaurant called Mikado. Great food, good beer selection, and great service. I savored a Juice Bomb by Sloop Brewing Co. in Hopewell Junction, NY. Tasty brew, highly recommended. And Mikado is highly recommended if you’re in Glens Falls.
We over-ordered but it was worth it. I hope the cleaning staff at the Queensbury made use of that left-over kimchi rice. Bummer to have to let it go. Now that I think of it the food probably would have survived in the trunk with the ice chest temps that week.
Next day, while Cindy was doing her thing, I was left to my devices: TV, iPad or guitar. All very worthy time killers but I wanted to get out. Instead of sitting around the hotel I decided to take a drive into Vermont toward the Green Mountains. First I wanted to stock up on some local beers if I could find an open brewery or bottle shop.
The problem with driving around looking for breweries and brew pubs is that you can’t get loaded up while you’re driving around looking for breweries and brew pubs. The other problem with driving around looking for breweries and brew pubs, on a Tuesday, in the dead of winter, is that most of them are closed.
One local novelty ale company happened to be open that day. As I mentioned, sampling was not an option before driving on snowy, unfamiliar roads, but I had to leave town with something, so I decided to raid the fridge in their bottle shop and taste some beers later on. How bad could it be?
They were the only game in town that day, unfortunately they didn’t have much game. A sad fact I would learn later that evening at the next hotel. I’d like to say mediocre but it was worse than that. I spent way too much money on some of the crappiest beer ever. Not mentioning the brand.
As I was filling up a case box of this then-unbeknownst-to-me crappy beer the person at the counter was telling me about how years earlier their beers were on tap in restaurants all over the area, but then the “big companies” had forced them out somehow.
I bought her story at first but later, after tasting a few, I came to the conclusion that the big beer companies had nothing to do with it. Their beer is bad, and I mean BAD. I wouldn’t want it on tap at my bar either.
Since then, with half of that case still to go through, I’ve been giving them the benefit of a doubt and try one beer each night or so hoping I might get one that doesn’t smell like the cellar of a 200 year old mushroom factory. So far no luck. What a disappointment.
Back to my story… With a case of later-to-be-revealed questionable beer in the trunk I headed out of town toward The Green Mountains. The farther I drove the worse the roads became so it’s a good thing I hadn’t imbibed. With no desire to get stuck in snow out in the boonies I ventured just a bit farther for some scenery then turned around after rambling through a little town called Pawlet, VT.
FYI there is nothing in Pawlet, VT. Just beautiful scenery and the Roy Egg Shop. Technically the shop is in West Pawlet. Closed when I ventured by though, go figure. The town is worth a drive for rural scenic value.
As it turns out the only good thing to come out of a stop in Queensbury this time around was the Japanese restaurant, Mikado, and a nice drive through the snowy Vermont countryside. As I commented above, we’ve had better luck in the past.
Wait a minute… I did manage to make a stop at Hannaford where I picked up a four pack of a previously unhad New York State beer, Beaver Bite IPA from Paradox Brewing in Schroon Lake, NY. Glad I did. That’s a tasty brew. Adding them to my list of must-visits for a future Adirondack trip.
And I did pick up some horseraddish olives and pickles, so that’s something. Luckily things would begin to look up as we headed west toward Ithaca.
The next stop on our itinerary was Johnstown. A rather unassuming town but there were some nice surprises nearby. First the Lakeside Tavern and Marina in Gloversville, NY. We ventured out on crappy roads in the freezing rain to find this gem. And I mean “gem” in the sincerest form of the word. Nowhere else, that I know of, in the rural southwestern foothills of the Adirondacks can you find The Alchemist’s Heady Topper and Focal Banger in the same place. Apparently the Lakeside Tavern doesn’t have these beauts in stock everyday so we consider ourselves lucky to have some stashed in the Cryptobrewology fridge right now. Might have one tonight. The stuff is gold so I don’t feel one lick of shame in over-paying for these legendary beers.
Not only does the Lakeside Tavern and Marina get these rarities from time to time, they have a large selection of other beers in cans and bottles and a decent draft beer list too. If you find yourself traveling through Johnstown this is a must stop for beer lovers.
Just a few miles away from the Lakeside Tavern we found a place called Project 29 Pub and Filling Station in Broadalbin, NY. It’s not a gas station, they mean “fill up” on beer and food. They have damn good food too, and a worthy beer selection with a slew of New York State craft brews on tap, cans and bottles.
I ate the most massive veggie burger with a side of fries. Delicious. Cindy commented on how fast I’d managed to wolf down the burger, but “I was hungry,” I said. Plus I needed absorption materials after the Heady Topper and for the Willful Delusion of False Perceptions by Foreign Objects Micro Brewery in New Paltz, which I was using to wash down the veggie burger and fries. Good beer. Slept like a log that night.
Next morning we were up and off to Ithaca, NY. Yes… Flower Power!
We made decent time for the first part of the trip but Winter bore its nasty teeth again and the last forty minutes turned into an hour. Better safe than sorry though. At the end of it all we enjoyed a welcomed late lunch, and much needed beer at Ithaca Beer Co.
We pulled into the parking lot with a cold drizzle coming down, car completely coated with road slush. But we didn’t care, we were headed inside where a cold drizzle of a different kind would flow from taps, conveying much needed, and dare I say deserved, elixir into our sample glasses. We like to do flights at breweries so we can enjoy more than just one of their styles. It also gives us a chance to decide what “to-go” beers we want to buy.
THIS was not a case of spending too much on shitty beer, it was a case of, “We should have brought the truck! There’s not enough room in the Honda for more than one case!”
With a case of assorted beers from the aforementioned unmentioned that I’m trying to forget about, plus the Headies and Focal Bangers from Lakeside Tavern, and other local eastern New York beers I picked up at the Hannaford supermarket in Queensbury, the Honda was loaded to the gills with beer, guitars and luggage.
Yes, we managed to jam in another case.
I have to say, the brewers at Ithaca Beer Co. know what they’re doing. Their brews have that dialed-in quality you get with breweries like Dogfish Head, Flying Dog, Southern Tier and other popular breweries like that. I know there are a ton more but I can’t list everybody. Safe to say Ithaca Beer Co. makes a damn good beer.
They serve some damn good food at their taproom too. I had the Vegan Chorizo Burger and a side salad. Both amazing. Cindy had a Roots and Grain Bowl made up of Pickled Beets, Curry Turnips, Roasted Butternut Squash, Herb Farro, Apples, Greens, Toasted Spice Vinaigrette, Candied Walnuts.
Nice to see they cater a bit to vegetarians and vegans but don’t worry they have plenty of grub for non-vegans. Try their grass fed beef burger with Flower Power mustard, the Piggly Wiggly Cajun-spiced grilled pork belly, Cheddar Ale Soup made with their New York Pale Ale (just drank one writing this, no joke). Check out their taproom menu if you plan on heading there.
And of course there are the beers. My first experience with Ithaca Beer Co. was a pint of Flower Power I had during a gig with a band I played guitar for in the Philly area. I was impressed to say the least. Honestly I’m no superior beer aficionado but I know what tastes good, and Flower Power is awesome.
After visiting the taproom at Ithaca Beer Co. I have to say that many of their other beers are equally awesome. I’m not a huge lager fan but I enjoyed many of their pale ales, IPAs and stouts. They make a great Ginger Beer too. We stowed some of those in the case we bought, which is part of this beeramid in our cold storage closet.
Ithaca Beer Co. was a fitting final stop and the highlight of a trip that began on somewhat shakey ground as far as beer goes, though things started looking up when we hit Johnstown.
So there you have it! A few waypoints to add to your next brewventure if you happen to be passing through those areas of New York State. I have others on my list the next time we venture into the Adirondacks and beyond. Need to do a decent New England trip one of these days. Stay tuned!
Until next time, cheers!