Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas Experiences: Breweries

Holly and Dave packed up the car and headed from Illinois to the east coast to visit their families over Christmas week in New York and Pennsylvania. While there they had a few new brewery experiences.

Photos found on the Internet
Two of the breweries were repeat visits: Rushing Duck in Chester, NY and Tröegs in Hershey, PA. Both breweries are great, but almost complete opposites of each other. Tröeg's is a showplace brewery in the heart of a tourist area that also serves excellent food. Rushing Duck is in a dank basement in a small-town downtown building with seating for maybe 15 and their food offering is free (delicious house made) potato chips. Duck's taproom fits in Tröegs restrooms. The beer at both locations is excellent and that's all that matters.

We sampled many beers at both and found a few new favorites from each.
After visiting Rushing Duck we headed across the street for the best wings ever at Touch Base. We were disappointed to find they took the bourbon brown sugar sauce off the menu. Fortunately we received a Christmas Miracle and the chef made us a special batch. Excellent!

Newburgh Brewing Company was the first new brewery we visited during the trip. NBC was running a beer sampling at the craft beer store in Dave's hometown and after having 4 unique samples we decided a 45 minute trip to Newburgh (New York) was in order.

Newburgh Brewing's location is in an old warehouse/factory building with a wonderful view of the Hudson River. Across the street is George Washington's Headquarters (1782-1783). The rehab in the taproom was excellent. They had a beautiful open area complete with foos ball, pool tables, baggo's, etc. There were 16 beers on tap and a nice menu of locally sourced items. The food was also very tasty.

In Pennsylvania we visited two new (to us) breweries. Our first stop was to the Lititz location of the Appalachian Brewing Company. ABC was in a refurbished factory just off the main drag. The entire bar/restaurant was wood paneled for that cabin feel. There are 5 other Appalachian locations across Pennsylvania, and it did feel a bit chainish. The beer menu featured 12+ items with 7 year-round offerings. Dave's flight included the year-round beers plus the December beer - a porter. The beers were all very neutral for the styles: not over-hopped or heavy on the malt. They seemed designed to appeal to those starting out with craft beers. However, their food was excellent. We'd definitely go back for the burger, turkey sandwich, and pulled pork.

The last brewery we visited was Columbia Kettle Works in Columbia, PA. This downtown location featured 8 house made beers, several local wines, and easy food items like sandwiches, cheese plates, and popcorn. We tried the brewer's popcorn, which was flavored with brewer's yeast and other spices, and it was quite good. All the beers were good representatives of their styles (we tried all 8) and of course we loved the chocolate porter. The taproom was comfortable with several bar seats and quite a few tables.

Overall we had a successful week of brewery visits. Our trip included visits to locations ranging from recent start-ups to full-blown production houses. We had excellent food at each brewery, even if it was house made potato chips. If beer is not your thing chances are your local brewpub will offer great food worth checking out.

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