Thursday, June 9, 2011

Troy, N.Y.--Brown by the river

     The old industrial city of Troy, New York (nicknamed the Collar City for its long gone shirt-making plants) sits along the Hudson River just north of Albany.  There, the first craft brewery in the region opened in 1993 and is still going strong in the same location.  Brown's Brewing Co. has a deck for outdoor dining in the back with a nice view of the Green Island Bridge, a distinctive example of a vertical-lift bridge.

 Brown's has a nice old-fashioned look at the bar inside.  The brews are named "Brown's [style or type]" with no nods to all the history around Troy. My son-in-law Ed and I each tried the sampler tray with our lunches.  I liked the Brown's Pale Ale, their flagship brand, and also the porter, made off an oatmeal base with a chocolate finish. 

(Visited 6/3/11)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Back east in Philly I: Yards Brewery

     As part of visiting e. coast family members, I scored a few good brewpub visits.  The first was down along the Delaware River shipyards in Philadelphia, at Yards Brewing Co.  This establishment likes to remind its patrons that much of Philly's history is well over 200 years old now.
Daughter T.J. and her BF Gregg pause at Yards' entrance early in a day that was working up to be decently hot for the end of May.
Yards is a fairly sizable operation, producing 16,000 bbls in 2010 and looking at maybe doubling that output with larger new fermenters.
     Their business model is to concentrate on four core ales (pale, IPA, Brawler (a session type ale) and an ESB) and three Ales of the Revolution.  These last are said to be based on recipes actually used by George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. I had to try a schooner of Jefferson's (he was the original T.J., after all) Tavern Ale, a strong (8%) Golden Ale with some honey in the boil.  Washington's recipe produces a porter, and Franklin's is for a spruce ale, using spruce essence and molasses as barley and hops were not readily available when Ben concocted this version.
Yards is cautious enough to say that Franklin may or may not have said "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,"  but adds that if he didn't say it, he should have.

Here, my T.J. captures me in note taking mode with the new fermenting tanks gleaming in the background.  Yards' bartender also offered a sample of the current seasonal, a nice malty Saison.
(Visited 5/29/11)

Prosser's second: Horse Heaven Hills

     Prosser, awash in a lake of wine, has two islands of barley-based sensibility.  Horse Heaven Hills will have been brewing in the downtown area for two years this July, along with the longer established Whitstran.  The brewery sits behind another business on Meade Ave., opening on an alley.
Don't be dissuaded from checking it out.  Brewer Gary Vegar has some adventurous ideas about craft beer. How many brewpubs can offer a Black Cherry Stout Float, served up just like a root beer float with a scoop of ice cream? I tried four tasters and was impressed with the Saison (made with Belgian candy syrup and coriander, put in the boil in the last two minutes), the Ruby Spur amber (honoring a cowboy friend who won a pair of ruby spurs in a rodeo), and the Delta Pale.  This last was made with two strains of hops so new--Delta for flavoring and Calypso for bittering--that Horse Heaven is one of just three breweries to get a wee bit from the five acre plot where they have been developed. (The other two? Just Sierra Nevada and Deschutes.)  It helps that the hops agronomist working on these new varieties is a local and fan of the beers here.
A local artist created the wood images of the three horses that grace the back bar and reinforce the names of the brewery and several of its beers.  The Horse Heaven Hills are on the map and the skyline, rising over the irrigated greenery to remind all that the natural condition out here is bone dry.
(Visited 5/20/11)