I started to develop a taste for craft beer when JD and I visited Rogue Ales at the start of last year. Our trip to Oregon was fantastic, leaving a deep impression on both of us, and Rogue will always have a special place in my heart as a result. But our visit to Southern Tier Brewing Co. in June ’11 is when I really started to fall in love with the craft beer industry.
We first visited the brewery in Lakewood, NY for a beer and cheese pairing event at their brewpub, The Empty Pint. Despite unseasonably cool weather (read: classic summer day in upstate NY), we enjoyed the outdoor patio with several comments made about the laid-back but well executed aesthetic of the place. A partnership with Wegmans brought a tasty array of NYS cheeses together with carefully selected craft beer from west coast brewers Anchor Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Anderson Valley, and Stone Brewing, along with Great Lakes, Dogfish Head, and Ommegang. Of course we drank plenty of Southern Tier Brews too!
After the pairing party we were excited for the opportunity to tour the brewery. If you ever have the chance to tour Southern Tier Brewing, do it. Their staff is not only extremely knowledgeable about the beer their serving, but they make sure you have a great time. The tour is well worth the $8 admission fee, offering the opportunity to taste a variety of great beer and a souvenir glass to help you remember the trip… and let me tell you, some of us needed some help remembering the trip!
One of my favorite beers at the time, Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale, is an easy to drink American pale ale and a great choice for those looking to make the transition from light beer to craft beer. That trip was the first time I tried Farmers Tan, an imperial pale lager and one of their summer seasonals. At this point, being quite new to imperials, my palate was a bit shocked by the 8-9% abv… but that issue quickly resolved itself. JD’s favorite, their 2XIPA is a great beer for IPA fans looking to take things up a level. It’s hoppy but well balanced with just enough of the citrus (grapefruit) notes that I love in my IPAs.
If you’re thinking about taking a trip to visit Southern Tier Brewing Co, I highly recommend it. If you live far away, do yourself a favor, and plan to stay the night somewhere close. We chose the Fairmount Motel less than a mile and a half down the road and we loved it. It’s super cheap ($50/night!) and very clean. There’s a little diner right next door for breakfast in the morning… trust me, you will have a great time. In fact, let me know when you’re going and maybe I’ll come along! (do you mind driving?)