The one that immediately caught my eye was Brewery Ommegang, that little slice of Belgium in Cooperstown, NY. Unfortunately, there was no way we’d make it there in time for their tastings and tours, so I wiped a tear from my eye and continued down the list. We settled on a nearby brewpub with good reviews – the C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump House. Whew, try saying that after a few beer samplers!
C.H. Evans did not disappoint. We each had a beer sampler, consisting of six delicious 3 oz tasters. My personal favorite was their Hefeweizen, but they also had a very nice Scottish Light and Pale Ale. I was definitely impressed by the brews – all were to style, crisp and clean tasting, and some featured some interesting hop varieties. For dinner I started with a bowl of the beef ragôut, which was delicious – reminiscent of German goulash and served with a corn muffin on top – a pairing that was as unexpected as it was tasty. The main event was the golabki, described on the menu as “choice ground beef, rice, and imported Romano cheese rolled in cabbage leaves, slow roasted with house marinara and served with pierogies.” Different and delicious.
The next day, we had an appointment at another venue in Huntington, NY. We got there early and were passing the town of Melville when I remembered a brewpub I had gone to years and years ago when I worked out in those parts. Maybe we had time? Yup, we had an hour to kill and the Black Forest Brew Haus was right down the street! This place only had four beers listed (and they were out of the one I most wanted to try, called “Heavyweizen”), but they exceeded expectations. We did not try the food, but the Chocolate Dopplebock was almost a meal in itself. The pub is decorated with all manners of German knick-knacks, but it would seem the German connection goes deeper than the decor – from the website: “Privatbrauerei Hoepfner of Karlsruhe, Germany has been brewing in this spirit since 1798 and shares its knowledge and tradition with the Black Forest Brew Haus including materials, recipes, equipment, and even the brewmaster!” Anyone have any info on this interesting blurb? I’ll have to go back there and find out what the exact relationship is…
So, great weekend, right? Well, I decided to push my luck…press my bets…roll the dice one more time… and hit another brewpub up for dinner that night! On the way back from the venue, I set course for the only John Harvard’s in New York State, which happens to be in Lake Grove, NY. I was happy with our visit – I tried the Kölsch and the “Winter Splinter”. The Kölsch was nice, although it was a bit off from the real thing – maybe just a touch too many hops? Not complaining, though, it was good beer! The Winter Splinter, on the other hand, was delicious – a nice malty beer with notes of orange, oak, and vanilla that blended together perfectly. I had one of JH’s signature burgers for dinner, and it was pretty darn good (except I had to switch to a knife and fork halfway through, since the bun just couldn’t keep up).
So, there you have it. No wonder I’m posting about beer being fattening – when you roll like that, you’re gonna pick up a couple of pounds!