Founders Wild Game Night at The City Beer Hall

Still catching up on some of the events that happened before we headed Vermont for vacation, today I wanted to share some pictures and thoughts on May’s Wild Game Night at The City Beer Hall, this time featuring the beers of a wildly popular brewery out of Grand Rapids, Founders Brewing Company.

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Best Week Ever.

If you followed me on social media last week you know it was pretty epic week of beer and food. Let’s break it down real quick:

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Oskar Blues and Founders at Henry Street Taproom

 Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Mama's Little Yellow Pils
The events at Saratoga Beer Week have been pretty hit or miss. Some are just bar crawls with no actual beer specials, some serve readily available beers but you get to take the glass home, some feature shelf Vermont beers and somehow try to make an event out of it, some center around truly awful Olde Saratoga beer. The entire week is definitely promotion driven with a lot of fluff and BS. However, Pig Destroyer Jon and I did want to get up there for at least an event or two to show our support for the beers we love and support for events that we think are actually worth attending. Without at doubt, Henry Street Taproom definitely has the most interesting events going on for the week.

Knowing that Remarkable Liquids was tapping a bunch of great kegs there on Tuesday night and Oskar Blues was going to tap a keg of Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Mama’s Little Yellow Pils last night, it was a no brainer to go and get the best offerings from both nights. To my surprise, there was a last minute change to the lineup and the Founders Rep was also in the house, providing arguably the best best tap list in all of Saratoga that night, possibly the Capital Region.
Henry Street Taproom Tap List 2/20/13
It was nice to hear that the OB barrels at Henry Street were slated to appear at Night of the Barrels, again lessening the blow of not being able to attend the rescheduled event in March (in additional to getting a growler of Night Shift’s NotB offering, Snow, this past weekend). The wine barrel-aged Pils was the main reason why I was there, so I found an open spot at the bar and immediately ordered a pint, much to the surprise of the bartender, given its $12 price. Yes it was steep, but when else was I going to get a chance to try this?

Founders All Day IPA

Things were a little fuzzy at this point.

Its appearance did not vary much from traditional Mama’s Little Yellow, but the white grape in the nose was evident. On first sip, the wine barrel dominates the taste with a slow transition and follow up of malt and hops in the backend. It’s sweet wine at first with a bit of tang before the moving on the tradition pils experience. This is delicious and extremely balanced, and what I imagine when I think of the wine hybrids that Sam Calagione attempts and instead produces absolute train wrecks. Seek this brew out, if you can.
Oskar Blues Chaka
The next beer was Oskar Blues Chaka, a collaboration with Sun King I’ve had my eyes on for a while but have yet to get my hands on (it’s in a unique resealable Alumi-Tek Bottle if you ever seen one). This is a very big (8%) sweet Belgian Pale Ale, one that I don’t think that has been brewed in a while so I imagine any hops in this beer have been long gone. It was tasty enough, but for the style it was too malty and sweet. I’m interested in trying this again when it’s brewed fresh.

The next beer was Founders All Day IPA “Definitely Not ‘All Day IPA'” IPA. I hold all sessionable IPAs to the standard of Lawson’s Finest Liquids Three Penny Especiale, and while the 4.7% ABV Not All Day IPA was tasty and extremely chuggable, I could have used some more hop flavor (but there aren’t many IPAs I haven’t said that about).
Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break
We rounded out the night by splitting a couple of glasses of both the 2010 Oskar Blues Ten Fidy and the Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti break, both outstanding Imperial Stouts, and the Biscotti the first time I’ve seen this tapped in the area.

If your looking for something above the status quo to do for Saratoga Beer Week, Henry Street is absolutely your best bet. And one of my biggest complaints in my last stops, the “Cold as the Rockies” serving temperature of their beer, seems to have been fixed. As these beers kick (and surely they will soon) they’ll be replaced with some great beers from Sixpoint for their cheese pairing today with R&G cheese and some even better Brett beers tomorrow with Jeremy Irving from Remarkable Liquids. Check them out!

Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Breakfast StoutHad some Breakfast Stout leftover from Christmas, given the opportunity to compare it against Wake-N-Bake I figured why not. Not going to get into the details here, but I’m surprised I actually prefer the Wake-N-Bake. FBS is much, MUCH sweeter than W-n-B and I admit, I’m a dark roasted coffee fanatic (in my beer and my coffee mug) and W-n-B just has a much more dark roasted coffee aroma and flavor to it. Founders almost feels like the girl version of a coffee imperial stout compared to Terrapin’s. Granted Founders also has chocolate in it, but it comes of as more of a sweet milk chocolate than dark chocolate. Makes me want to put FBS through a french press with some nice roasty Sumatra instead.

BCBS Available in the Capital District

— OK, last one for the day. Savemore Beverage just posted they have Bourbon County on their shelves. As far as I know, none of the other big bottle shops in the area have announced likewise, but I’m sure they’ll be following suit soon enough. With FBS on the shelves, too, could be a good time to stock up. For me? I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Bourbon County Cherry Rye.

Shh, don’t tell anyone but Founders 2012 Bolt Cutter is drinking mighty fine this year. Can’t wait to have it with some age on it. (Well, technically, I kinda have to.)

This guy is slated to hit shelves on November 19th. Check out the story here.


Photo courtesy of Jon’s crappy Instagram account.

Day Drinking at Moreau Lake State Park + Bonus Ommegang Rant


Golden Harvest Peach Jack

Jon and Danielle were spending the weekend up at Moreau Lake and while I couldn’t stay the whole weekend, Elise was at a wedding shower so that means I had a free pass to head up there with Kuma to enjoy a few drinks around the fire. Jon said he ended up having a shitty night so I’m glad I didn’t stay.

The lineup for the day:

  • Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery – Peach Jack
  • Maui Brewing Co. – CoCoNut PorTer (Thanks Chris!)
  • Hoppin’ Frog Brewery – Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin
  • Brewery Ommegang – Scythe & Sickle
  • Avery Brewing Company – Maharaja (Birthday beers from Elise)
  • Founders Brewing Company – Dry Hopped Pale Ale

Rant time:

Jon actually grabbed this Scythe and Sickle at Ommegang well before it hit shelves in our area and we were drinking this the weekend after. If you have already read my rant about this beer on All Over Albany I apologize, but I feel this needs to be said here.

When you read the reviews for Scythe and Sickle a lot of them have the same thing to say, or at least allude to it: “You can really taste the Belgian yeast in this.” What they mean to say is “You can really taste the Ommegang yeast in this.” And that’s the biggest problem that I have with all Ommegang beers these days. If you lined 100 beers up I could easily pick out the one Ommegang beer out of them. They all have this same common flavor profile due to using this only one yeast strain in their beers and after years and years and years of drinking Ommegang (they’re really where I started getting fanatical about craft beer) it’s getting kind of boring. That’s a shame since this Scythe and Sickle deserves a 4+ rating but unfortunately I just can’t give it that rating while being that bored and uninterested in the brand in general.

I want to see Ommegang do something truly different and out of their comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a huge risk, nationwide release or anything. I want to see them experiment, do some small batch, brewery only release or even something as small as a brewery only on tap release. I would drive out there for something like that in a heartbeat, and I’m sure there are plenty of locals who would appreciate a beer like that as well.

This dovetails into my complaint that we really don’t have much in terms of beer in the area that worth trading for. If I want to trade for something across the country, I generally have to drive up to Vermont and get some Heady Topper, Lawson’s or Hill Farmstead. The two big craft breweries of note in New York, Southern Tier and Ommegang, really only brew what they ship mostly nationally and they do nothing in terms of brewery only releases. Ithaca used to have some sours that were worth trading, but that’s still 3 hours away, one single style of beer compared to the multiple styles of beer I could acquire in VT, and since they no longer have a coolship their sour program is kind of up in the air (yes that was an open-air fermentation pun). My best chance in NY right now is to get my hands on some of the Captain Lawrence sours (congrats on the big wins at GABF this year, btw) and to hope that Peekskill starts up their barrel aging and sour programs and they start bottling some day. That’s kinda sad.


Moreau Lake State Park (link) | 605 Old Saratoga Road, Gansevoort, Saratoga, New York 12831 (map) | All Moreau Lake State Park Posts