Wednesday, November 23, 2011

#12 - North Carolina, "The Tar Heel State" - Intro

I've been going to North Carolina for vacation for as long as I can remember, but only recently did I venture away from the Outer Banks and to the rest of the state. The same can be said for my foray's into NC beer. As of this summer, the only beer I can remember having from NC was Duck Rabbit's Amber Ale. Since then, I've had several more brews from three or four more breweries from the Tar Heel State.

North Carolina is very diverse geographically, with mountains in the West and coastal communities on the East side. Last year I visited Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham, each for the first time. Unfortunately I've been to pretty much every major area of North Carolina except for its undisputed beer capital, Asheville. Asheville is located in the Appalachain Mountains and it boasts a vibrant art scene.

Stats for NC:
Breweries/Brew Pubs: 49. Wow. Including 10 in Asheville alone.
Cleanest City: Charlotte. When we stayed downtown last year, it seemed like most of Charlotte had been built within the last year. Obviously not true, but it's really clean with wide sidewalks. Pretty small, but really cool.
Vacation Spot Least Like the Jersey Shore: The Outer Banks. Although it has become more and more popular, it's still a great place to go to relax and spend time on the beach. Plus the OBX Brewing Station is a high quality brew pub with really good food.

Here are the breweries I've tried from North Carolina:
Natty Greene's
Outer Banks Brewing Station
Mother Earth
Duck Rabbit

Check out this page for the rest of them.

I'll probably just get the map up and skip the in depth look at every brewery since I'm pretty far behind.

Maybe when I visit Asheville for the first time I'll revisit it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New York Brewery Map

I didn't follow through on profiling each of the New York breweries that I've either tried or been to, so I'll quickly finish up here.

I've been to three breweries in New York; Keuka, Horseheads, and Ithaca. Ithaca had my favorite brews, Keuka has the best tasting room, and Horseheads was small and somewhat non-descript. Still cool though. At Ithaca one beer we sampled was one that they do not serve on a large scale. It is an unfiltered version of their Apricot Wheat that they called Rough Draft. It's made with fresh apricots, rather than syrup as their regular Apricot is, and since it's unfiltered, it is a lot hazier than it's clear counterpart. We liked it so much that we bought a growler.

I've also been to two winery/breweries in the Finger Lakes; Wagner Winery/Brewery and Miles Wine Cellar. Wagner is a full scale brewery with tastings. Miles was a small operation that seemed to be pretty new to the beer game. They both have gorgeous locations on the East and West of Seneca Lake, respectively.

In general, New York has some really solid breweries. These are the other six that I have tried but haven't visited yet; Southern Tier, Saranac (Matt Brewing), Six Point, Brooklyn, Blue Point, and Brewery Ommegang.

This is a map for the places that I have visited or tried so far. Go to this page for the full list and map of the rest of New York State's breweries.

As everyone knows, there are two distinct regions of New York State; NYC and Upstate. I suggest visiting the breweries in that order, NYC first, and then go relax in Upstate.

1. Blue Point
2. Brooklyn
3. Six Point
4. Brewery Ommegang
5. Matt Brewing
6. Ithaca
7. Horseheads
8. Wagner
9. Miles
10. Keuka
11. Southern Tier.

View New York Breweries in a larger map

Friday, October 21, 2011

New York - Breweries and Music #3 - Keuka, Fang Island

The first two breweries I wrote about for New York were large, well distributed craft breweries. Keuka is much smaller and locally distributed but they have a tasting room and several styles of beers. So if you are doing a wine tour, it's well worth stopping by.
Quick Facts:
  • Opened in fall of 2008.
  • Located on the west side of Keuka Lake near Hammondsport.
  • What looks like a Y in their logo is actually the shape of Keuka Lake. I definitely like this logo.
My wife and I visited their tasting room in summer of 2010. It's tucked off of the main road on the west side of Keuka lake which is not really the main wine trail. They have a nice little tasting room and the son of the owner was pouring drinks for us.The story behind one of their beers is pretty unique. Their White Cap Wazz-berry is their White Cap Wheat but with raspberry added to the secondary fermentation. They say on their site that it is brewed for one of their favorite customers. I'm not sure if that means they brew it whenever he says "hey I want some," or if that just means he was the inspiration. I hope it's the former. Either way, I don't think I've ever heard of a brewery making a beer for one specific person.

Here's their selection: (although they say that this is just a list of a few of the beers they have available)
White Cap Wheat, White Cap Wazz-berry, Briglin Road Red, Hoppy Laker IPA, Bluff Point Brown, Full Sail Stout Ale.

Today's Brooklyn band is Fang Island. They are originally from Providence, RI, but are now Brooklynites (ers?). They have described their music as "everybody high-fiving everybody" which is definitely fitting. It's high energy fun music. This song is called "Life Coach."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New York - Breweries and Music - #2, Blue Point, The Hold Steady

Blue Point Brewing is the only brewery on Lon Gisland. That's not a typo, that's how people say it.
Quick Facts:
  • Founded in 1998. 
  • They use a direct fire brick brew kettle, which they say imparts a lightly toasted flavor.
  • They have a 25 barrel brew house.
  • Distributed in 11 states on the East Coast. NY, NJ, MA, Ct, PA, RI, FL, NG, VA, DE, NC.
I like their website because it includes a whole lot of information about their brewery, the beer, recipes to try with beer, and a really cool story about how the brewery was able to open in the first place. The two friends who started the brewery were having a hard time finding capital to buy their equipment. They found a perfect building but didn't have enough money to lease the building and buy the equipment necessary. So, they were about to give up, but the landlord of the building randomly said that he would give them the first year's rent for free just because he had a feeling about them. Luckily for both parties involved, they have done pretty well since.

Here is their selection:
Year Rounds: Toasted Lager, Hoptical Illusion, Blueberry Ale, RastafaRye Ale, Pale Ale, and Oatmeal Stout.
Seasonals: Spring Fling, Summer Ale, Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Ale, Winter Ale
Limited Releases: Double Blonde, Golden Ale, Old Howling Bastard, No Apologies, Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, BP Toxic Sludge, Double Pilsner, and an ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

I've only had the Toasted Lager and the Hoptical Illusion. If I had to pick three more that I would really like to try they would be the Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, The Old Howling Bastard barley wine (for some reason I really like barleywines. Maybe masochism?) and the ESB which is another of my favorite styles. 

You may be wondering about the BP Toxic Sludge. It’s a Black IPA (also one of my favorite styles.) If you haven't noticed, pretty much every style of beer is my favorite. It was released to benefit the birds harmed by BPs oil spill. 100% of the proceeds go to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research.  It clocks in at 7% ABV and is hopped four times, which is one time more than the triple hops brewed actual sludge that is Miller Lite.

I've never been to Long Island, but since Blue Point distributes all along the East Coast, you don't have to go either. Grab a Sour Cherry Imperial Stout and let me know how it is. I'm intrigued.

No good musicians are actually from Brooklyn apparently, but a whole lot of bands have migrated there in order to hit the big time. One of them is The Hold Steady, who I was into pretty strongly a couple years back. Then my car's CD player broke and swallowed the two CDs of theirs I owned and I have somewhat lost touch with them. This one is called "Stuck Between Stations." I have other songs from them that I like more, but in this video, I couldn't help but think the lead singer looks a little bit like a young Bernie Madoff.