After a treacherous trip and a quick pint while we waited for our tour guide, we entered the brew house. The doors open to a row of huge fermentation tanks that you walk along before getting to the first stop. The guide talked us through the typical process of making beer while sipping on some of my favorite beers. The lowest alcohol beer was their IPA, starting at 7.3%. From there we went to their new 2X Stout weighing in at 7.5%, followed by the 2X IPA at 8.2.
Now, there’s a lot of haters out there regarding their new 2X Milk Stout. I had it for my first time at Hoosick Street Beverage while we were picking up brews before Man Camping. Granted, I’m a huge Milk Stout fan and am willing to forgive even when it isn’t the best beer. I ended up finishing the bottle we tried at HSB, and picking up a 6-pack to go along with the Dales Pale Ale and The Alchemist Heady Topper I brought for the trip. It’s definitely not the best Milk Stout I’ve had (Joe Mama’s) or even Southern Tier’s best stout (Choklat) but I’ll gladly drink it again.
After trying the first few beers, pitchers of which were split between the patrons (some partaking in more of the pitchers than others *ahem*) we went for a walk around. We were able to see some of the beers they are barrel aging which, much like their oak-aged Pumpking, is something new for Southern Tier. Their large keg cooler and their bottle storage rooms followed. Swinging back around to where we started we finished off pitchers of Oak Aged Pumpking (8.6%) and Choklat, a whopping 11% ABV beer.
At this point, lunch was very much in order. We arrived back to The Empty Pint to find that almost all of the tables were filled. We ordered up two pulled pork sandwiches and sat down with our new-found friends from the tour to chat over a pitcher of Raspberry Wheat Ale (a much needed break from the big beers at only 4.5%).
After lunch we still had quite the trek ahead of us. We still needed to check into our hotel in Rochester two and a half hours away, make it to the Lovin’ Cup to listen to some tunes and drink some Three Heads Brewing beers. There I would encounter one of the most mind-blowing fried snacks I’ve ever had in my life…
I’ve been dying to get to Southern Tier and this time of year was ideal for going since I could get Choklat straight from the source. What was not ideal was the 4 snow storms I had to drive through on roads that weren’t yet plowed and having to get up at 5AM to make it to there in plenty of time before the 1PM tour. Google puts the trip at 6 hours and 3 minutes. We got there in around 5:20. Not too shabby considering the conditions and Elise having her eyes closed for half of the time due to my “unique driving skills”.
Anyways, we arrived a little bit early and we had some time to kill. Having never been we decided we had to check out a Wegmans. Being huge Stew Leonard’s fans we had to see how it stacked up. I see some parts like the huge cafeteria and prepared food sections that Price Chopper is clearly trying to rip off, but it’s definitely no Stew Leonard’s. I wouldn’t mind having one in my backyard, though. However, there was something going on there I’d never seen at a grocery store before: a beer tasting. Knowledgeable staff from Ellicottville Brewing Co. (who actually went to Union College and we had plenty of things to chat about) directed me to some beers I couldn’t get around Albany and I walked out with a 12 pack from Great Lakes Brewing Company and a make-your-own sixer.
We stayed there and snooped around a little longer than I’d like (I was gonna be pissed if we got there late and they ran out of spots for the tour) but we were fine. Southern Tier’s pub is called “The Empty Pint” and we were hoping to grab some lunch before the tour. They let you bring your own snacks and such, but they have some soups and pulled pork sandwiches available. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t warmed up (I assume it’s made off premises) so we were left to drink our first pint and the tour on an empty stomach. In retrospect, don’t do this. All of the beers on the tour were 7.5%, on top of a pint of Choklat…eh. Sometime during my pint it started blizzarding, naturally. After poking my head around a bit at the merchandise and the enclosed patio it was time for the tour. We’ll talk about that in my Part 2 post…