A day of fine beer and good times

February 1, 2009

Saturday was a day of great beer and good times. A bunch of friends and I met at the Albany Pump Station for lunch. I had an amazingly tender reuben with a Kick-Ass Brown followed by a Winter Warmer. The Brown, a repeat award winner, was amazing. The Winter was actually lacking, I thought. It was cloudy and seemed a bit unbalanced.

Next stop was Mahar’s, where we talked for hours while slowly enjoying a few pints. I had a hand-drawn mug of a casked Arcadia’s HopMouth, a hand-drawn mug of a casked Blue Point Winter Ale, and a draught mug of Arcadia’s Coco Loco. All were fantastic.

A Dave, Jeff, Angelos and I then met up at my house for another round of Rock Band for the night. We had collected an absolutely silly amount of beer for the night, and thankfully left half of it untouched. Still, we put away quite a bit. Jeff brought some growlers of his homebrewed ESB that was absolutely fantastic. My friend Asher gave me some bottles of Troegs Scratch #16 that was very good. We also enjoyed some of Brown Brewing Co.‘s Rauchbier, which was smokey yet very well balanced. Others enjoyed were Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron, Wachusett Black Shack Porter, Weyerbacher Blithhering Idiot, Westmalle Dubbel, and Allagash White. Bud Point total: 40.88.

Rock Band itself was amusing, as always. With four of us, we swapped off “singing”. We all had a turn at destroying our vocal chords and our friends’ ears. I had a blast screaming the opening line to Jane’s Addiction’s “The Mountain Song”… “Coming down the mountain!!!!!!!!!!!!” Iron Maiden still kills me on guitar. I can’t get through the opening on Hard without failing… 15 seconds in. Lots of hammer-ons that I just can’t get the timing right on.

A great day yesterday, and a lazy day today.

Weekend at Jeff’s

August 12, 2008

Just a quick blog to note some highlights from my weekend trip to Rochester. First, it was great to hang out with my friend Jeff again. Well worth 8 hours of driving, even through the rain and hail!

Aside from geeking out to Rock Band and Burnout Paradise (which was mainly reserved for late night debauchery), we were pretty much out and about all weekend. First, he lives right in downtown Fairport, which is a small village along the Erie Canal. There’s no surprise that it’s been listed several times in the Top 100 Places to Live in America. This village reminds me of some of the small coastal communities along the East Coast, with many thriving local shops and pubs. I enjoyed being able to walk everywhere in the village rather than take a car. Along the canal there is a bike path and a park, with many boat launches and private piers and boat ties.

We spent a solid afternoon driving around the Rochester area. Our first stop was to Beers of the World, a modest looking beverage store with a very impressive selection. I had to really fight off my impulses and stick to a mixed 6-pack (though it was a really good mixed six, weighing in at $38). Aside from the huge beer selection from around the world, they also sell homebrew supplies, glassware, and cigars.

After the beer store we drove around a bit and made our way to a very sketchy looking shopping plaza with lots of teenage kids loitering around. Go figure, there was a huge gaming store there. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was geek heaven. I used to play RPGs as a kid, but I was amazed at the amount of games, miniatures, and other accessories for these games there are now. Kids must drop a fortune on this stuff. I made my way over to the board and card game area, and resisted the urge to buy several games. Yes, I left empty-handed. But, I have a list! Yes, I’m a geek, but honestly the games are far more complex and hold my attention better than the standard Monopoly/Life/Clue genres do. On my list are more booster packs for Killer Bunnies, many variations of Chez Geek, and some Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne expansions.

After our drive around town, we chilled at his house with a few beers and then walked down to a great pub called Donnelley’s. I’d been there the last time I visited Jeff, and that last trek had us searching for nearly an hour on icy sidewalks and biting wind. We finally found it after deciding to walk away from two sketchy looking guys who we ran into in a dark side street (and upon leaving, saw that we’d have found the place had we walked 50 more feet when we first got there). Anyhoo… So this time we both knew where we were going. The food at Donnelley’s is very good and they feed you well. I had the pulled pork sandwich with a smoked bourbon sauce… I was stuffed! Donnelley’s also has a great selection of beer on tap, and I was very pleased with seeing Arrogant Bastard on the tap list. I think we ended up hanging around there for about 3 hours, until I was simply stuffed.

After Donnelley’s it was back to Jeff’s for (you guessed it) more good beer and Rock Band. We had a few amazing storms roll through as well. One thunder clap sounded like a cannon going off right outside, and the lightning was blinding. But that also seems to be par for the course all over the Northeast this summer. (I can’t remember a 100% dry day.)

Sunday morning we went out to Highland Park Diner for breakfast. Jeff warned me ahead of time that a breakfast there pretty much carries you through to dinner, and he was right, but I was not prepared for the quality of the food. One word: Amazing! I had a hard time deciding what to order, and settled on a style of dish I haven’t had in years. I ordered the Italian Benedict, which was grilled Italian bread with Italian sausage, poached eggs, fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh whole basil leaves and Hollandaise sauce, served with a side of home fries and fresh fruit. A huge plate, amazing flavor, and $8. And yes, I was full until dinner. I highly recommend this diner to anyone in or visiting the Rochester area!

Albany Pump Station outing

March 24, 2007

Tonight I ventured out with my kids and friends to the Albany Pump Station. As far as brew pubs go (home of C. H. Evans Brewery), this is one of my favorites. They have excellent beer and food, and the atmosphere is perfect for a nice evening out. The Pump Station itself is actually one of the old pump stations used to pump fresh water up from the Hudson River (back when it was drinkable) into Albany, and has since been converted into a brew pub. The result is a restaurant with very high ceilings (roughly 50′), lots of windows, and a kind of old world industrial meets modern day decor. They have a beautiful large stone fireplace at one end of the restaurant, the kitchen and glassed-off brewery at the other, with a bar in between. Atop the bar is a 2nd floor devoted to their fermenters and aging tuns and casks. Just about everything is exposed. You can watch the kitchen crew prepare food, watch the brewers work (if you’re lucky), and generally take in all of the workings of the place.

The first of the two beers I had tonight was their Imperial Stout Plus.
Rating: 4/5
Very malty with rich, complex layers of roasted grain. Light hoppy finish. Easy on the nose and taste buds, and masked the 8.5% alcohol quite well. Served in a stemmed goblet/tulip glass (a mild tulip curvature to the glass). I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and had I not had my kids in tow I could have easily fallen victim to the masked potency with multiple draughts.

The second beer I had was their Dry Stout.
Rating: 5/5
I stuck with stouts not only because that’s what I started with, but I’d ordered a wonderful pulled pork sandwich, which a stout (ideally a porter, but they had none available) complimented nicely. The Dry Stout was much less potent, at about 3.8% alcohol, but as far as a beer goes, this was near perfect. It was incredibly well-balanced, neither malty nor hoppy, but a wonderful blend of both. I got a bit of mild fruit esters. Perhaps a bit of plum or black cherry, but nothing so pronounced as to give it away. An excellent compliment to a hearty meal, without the added bulk. Highly drinkable.