Upstate New York Brewery and Wine Tour

by Christine on March 22nd, 2011

filed under Diet, Food, Nutrition, General Information

Upstate New York Brewery & Wine Tour

This is a perfect tour for anyone that is visiting the Upstate NY area, or who is spending a weekend in the Lake George or Saratoga areas. I personally recommend doing this list in order, so that you end up in Saratoga Springs at the end of the day. You have a lot of great restaurants and bars to choose from in downtown Saratoga Springs to wrap up the day. Remember if you are going to do the tour, please drink responsibly and either hire transportation or get a designated driver.

1. Coopers Cave Ale Company (microbrewery)
2 Sagamore Street
Glens Falls, NY
(518) 792-0007
Opens at 11:30 a.m. every day and “open late.”
When we went, they had 12 beers on tap. For a sampling or a flight of beers, you can choose six beers for something like $8 or so. If you go with a group, I recommend that you get a flight of six, and have a friend get the other flight of six, then share all 12. They have some fruity beers—a blueberry and a raspberry—that are very sweet. The Red had a great holiday smell to it. Coopers Cave also has a full menu so you can eat while you’re there or grab some homemade ice cream.

2. Davidson Brothers Brewing Company (microbrewery)

184 Glens Street
Glens Falls, NY
(518) 743-9026
Opens at 11:30 daily, noon Saturday-Sunday.
This brewery is located in the heart of downtown Glens Falls in a fantastic old brick building. I could have stayed here all day, laughing with the bartender (Rick Farmer), who was an absolute hoot! Eventually one of the owners stopped by and chatted with us. We ended up talking to other people at the bar, too—everyone was really friendly! The bar had a few tvs to watch sports. The place has a full restaurant, and I recommend taking a moment to have a quick lunch here. (Don’t dilly dally too long if you want to make Saratoga Winery later!)  When we went, they had a lot of IPAs and bitter beers on tap and no wheat beers, which are my favorites. A sampling of six 6-ounce samples cost something like $9. However, I suspect that the brews differ quite often. Davidson Brothers brews their beers on location, and if you want a tour (which they do), call ahead to schedule a time.

3. Adirondack Pub and Brewery (microbrewery)

33 Canada Street
Lake George, NY
(518) 668-0002
Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Noon.
This is a typical brew pub, but with a great sampling of Adirondack “rustic” architecture. A sampling of six beers cost about $6 or so. When we went, they were out of two of their beers, so they gave us something else, but didn’t write it down for us, so we weren’t entirely sure what they were. Their Dirty Blonde wheat beer was quite good, and their Coffee Stout was a great after-dinner beer. They offer tours on Saturdays “in season” (I think that means during the summertime) or by appointment, so give a call. This should be a quick stop, so keep on going with the tour! The next winery is just a little ways up the street.

4. Adirondack Winery (winery)
285 Canada Street
Lake George, NY
(518) 668-WINE
Thursday-Saturday 11-6; Sundays 11-4. These hours will change in the summertime, so double-check the website.
This winery left me pleasantly surprised for two reasons. First of all, I always expect northcountry wines to be on the sugary side, but these wines were actually well-developed and well refined. This is because they purchase their grapes from California at mature wineries. Secondly, they had an enormous selection of wines! They actually have more than 30 wines to choose from. Cost is $5 to try 5 wines, and they are pretty stingy in the amount they pour. You do get to keep the souvenir glass. I highly recommend the Barbara and the Merlot (the regular Merlot, not the Reserve) They were delicious! They also have a variety of fruit wines and dessert wines as well as traditional whites and reds. No appointment is necessary to taste the wines.

5. Saratoga Winery and Tasting Room (winery)
462 Route 29
Saratoga Springs, NY
(518) 584-WINE
Weds, Thurs, Sat, and Sun, 12-6 p.m.; Friday 12-9 p.m.
Like Adirondack Winery, this place left me pleasantly surprised. This is a new winery (opened in 2009 I think) with surprisingly sophisticated wines. Like Adirondack Winery, this place purchases their grapes offsite; Saratoga Winery gets theirs from one of the oldest and most well-established vineyards in the Finger Lakes region. They feature Melomel wines, which are sweetened with honey (and boy, they are sweet!). Saratoga Winery features music and food (for an extra price) on Friday nights. Cost is $5 to try 5 wines (they are more generous with their pours than Adirondack Winery) and if you ask and they aren’t too busy, you can probably try an extra one. The wines from this winery will be featured at the Saratoga Race Track this year (2011).

6. Olde Saratoga Brewing Company (microbrewery)
131 Excelsior Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY
(518) 581-0492
Monday-Friday 5-10 p.m.; Saturday 12-10 p.m.
In a lot of ways, I’m saving the best for last. For starters, the tasting room is open late, so kick back and relax after your day of beer and wine tasting! Let me tell you a little secret: the beers here are free, all day, every day. No kidding. They give you about 6 ounces of one beer you want to try. When you’re done, you just ask for another beer. And another. And another. And it’s free, for as much as you want to drink. Sound crazy? Yeah, I thought so too. If you prefer wine, bring your own bottle of wine and drink it on site; they’re fine with that. The beers here were my personal favorites, but I’m not a bitter-beer kind of lady. Their Kingfisher Lager and Saratoga Lager were my two personal favorites. I believe they have a partnership of some kind with the Mendocino Brewing Company.  The tasting room has tvs to watch your sports games, and has free Wi-Fi as well. The room is pretty small, and often tour buses stop by, during which time it gets pretty crowded. They have live music on Thursday Nights, and they often have free food to sample, too. They offer tours of their brewery, but you need to call to book a tour.

Extra Items of Note:

This is a pretty short brew/wine tour for me. It’s not unusual for us to get 10 or more wineries into one visit when we hit the road for a tour. Since the first microbrewery doesn’t open until 10:30 or 11 a.m., that gives you ample time to check out some other local places if you have time. Let me make a few recommendations:

Saratoga Apple, Inc.
1174 Route 29
Schuylerville, NY
(518) 695-3131
9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
This is an apple orchard located in Schuylerville, just outside of Saratoga Springs. They have some fantastic apples (including pick-your-own, for a fee), fresh vegetables, and really delicious cider donuts. Stop by here for donuts and apples before hitting the beer and wine trail. While you’re here, venture across the street and check out the Schuylerville Monument (it’s very close, within walking distance really) to enjoy your donuts. Or, venture to downtown Schuylerville to the little park on the Champlain Canal. If you’ve never seen a canal lock in operation, this is a good place to watch it work, and the park is cute.

Mapleland Farms
550 Bunker Hill Road
Argyle, NY
9 a.m. – 1 pm
This place is in the middle of nowhere and will take a good 40 minutes to get to the first microbrewery. It’s open early though, but it is only open during March, which is maple syrup season. Stop by to watch the syrup-master make some fresh maple syrup and pay $7 for an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast that is, trust me, well worth the wait.

Angel’s Share Society
9 Maple Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY
(518) 583-CLUB

There’s a sampling society that samples single malts, bourbons, martinis, and Irish whiskeys. They meet the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. This is a teeny-tiny bar (seats 40 people) that often has live jazz music. I personally love their martini menu, which has over 250 choices. Add this place to the end of your beer & wine tour and sample some of their specialty whiskeys.

312 Union Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY
This artist’s community is on a private 400 acre wooded site. This is a private mansion where famous artists come to stay to get some work done. Some of the famous people that have graced these halls have included Truman Capote, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Langston Hughes, and 64 Pulizer Prize winners, etc. You can’t get close to the mansion itself (you can see it though), but the beautiful gardens are open free to the public from 8 a.m. to dusk. If you’re setting off on your tour on a beautiful summer morning, stop by Yaddo with some fresh mimosas to enjoy the scenery. You can’t get a tour, so don’t bother calling.

Saratoga Springs Congress Park
Broadway; downtown Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs, NY
Congress Park is located right in the heart of Saratoga Springs and is commonly known as the “City Park.” (This helps to differentiate it from the State Park and the National Park that are nearby.)  Congress Park features the Canfield Casino on the grounds, but has immaculate gardens, fountains, statues, and a beautiful working carousel. The park is free and is always open. Bring a picnic breakfast to enjoy before you start your day.

Click on map for larger image

(click on the map for a larger image)


Weekend update! Beer, wine, maple syrup, and more!

by Christine on March 21st, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise

Happy spring, Revolutionists! What are your goals for springtime? How will you begin to prepare for the summer that is looming?

I’ll tell you what. This 100 pound weight loss is messing with my head recently. I have been feeling so fat and so bloated lately. In fact, this morning I was laying in bed thinking that perhaps I need to get a tub of “too-big clothing” out from storage to wear, and I also pondered at what point I should go back to get another fill from the bariatric surgeon. Then, when I stepped on the scale, it said I was 127 pounds, which is pretty much within my maintenance range. Why am I feeling so fat when I am not really gaining any weight? I feel as fat and awful as I did when I was 225 pounds; I KNOW my body is different, but my brain is on a different path. Why the discrepancy?

So much of weight-loss is a big head game.

The last few days have been very very busy! Let me recap!

Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day

For St. Patty’s day we did our usual pub trivia at our local establishment. (No, we didn’t win this week!) We had a group of 12 friends join us, so it was a great celebration with friends! It was also a very long evening; I showed up at the bar at 5 p.m. to get the big table to accommodate our group, and we didn’t leave until 10 p.m. That’s a long time to be sitting down! Fortunately I only drank one beer that whole time, so I didn’t overindulge. Hubby and I split an order of chicken tenders. (not the healthiest option, I know, but hubby doesn’t eat healthy food like vegetables. The best I could do was to watch my quantity when eating crappy food.)

Friday March 18th

Friday was my Uncle’s memorial service. I was very sad that I could not make it to Chicago to honor him, but I kept him in my thoughts all day.  After work on Friday I went out with some friends drinking. This night, however, I did overindulge! I had a margarita with dinner (which was 1 small fish taco and some black beans with salsa. Delicious!), followed by three pumpkin spiced martinis. They were delicious, but really, three was a little excessive. One should have sufficed, then I should have switched to water. There is a lot of sugar in martinis.

Saturday March 19th

On Saturday a friend and I went for a beer tour in our local area!  Tomorrow I will post our itinerary (with notes) for anyone local that wants to re-create our route.  First we hit a maple syrup refinery. March is the month that maple syrup is produced, and upstate New York and Vermont is famous for its maple syrup! We ventured out into the middle of godforsakennowhere and talked with a maple syrup maker about how he makes the delicious goodness. Then, for $7, you could have all-you-can-eat pancakes. My friend and I split an order, and man, fresh, hot maple syrup was really delicious! We waited an eternity for our order, but the wait was well worth it.

Photo above: They tap the maple trees and run tubes from the trees to the collection tanks. This whole area has hundreds of tubes running from the trees; it’s a real labyrinth! Can you see them?

Photo above: The tubes run to collection tanks like this one. Pure maple syrup only had 2% sugar; the rest is water. Who knew?

Photo above: Inside the refinery, they boil the maple syrup over and over again. This is steam billowing from the boilers; you can see the steam coiling above the refinery for miles! Before packaging the maple syrup, they add some white powdery stuff to help purify the syrup. And that’s it! Collect it, boil it, package it. Pretty simple.

Photo above: You know you’re in the boondocks when llamas greet you outside.

Photo above: Standing in eastern New York State, looking at the Green Mountains in Vermont. I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful area of the country! Look, our snow is almost gone!

Then we hit two brew pubs (microbreweries) in Glens Falls, NY. We had so much fun at the Davidson Brothers Brewery! Although they had a lot of IPAs and bitter beers on draft, which are not my thing, I had so much fun bantering with the bartender and one of the owners of the place. What a FUN place to hang out!

From there we hit a winery in Lake George, then another winery in Saratoga. After that we discovered a microbrewery in Saratoga that, well, I won’t give away their secret, but it is truly a fantastic gem for us localites!!!

Although we hit a lot of breweries and wineries, and we did samplings and flights at each destination, I didn’t overdo the drinking. After all, I was driving! I sipped and sampled, then let my friend polish off the rest of the drinks at each place. I paced myself, don’t worry.  For lunch I had soup at the Davidson Brothers Brewery, and for dinner we nibbled on some homemade cranberry cheese spread at Olde Saratoga Brewery that was absolutely divine!

Tomorrow I will post our itinerary (with lots of links, information, etc).  Because I seem to be really good at putting together these beer/pub crawls in the New York and New England areas, I will start compiling these tours into a resource on the website, so be looking for it!

Sunday, March 20th

Sunday I went snowshowing with a friend in the morning. Well, he snowshoed and I hiked with small crampons attached to my boots. It was a beautiful day! We hiked for about an hour and a half, which was about 5 miles or thereabouts. A great way to get a workout in!

Afterwards, hubby and I did some much needed errands, such as a trip to the hardware store and a trip to the grocery store. We also stopped at our local gaming/comic book store (Zombie Planet, which is a great store!) to pick up some new board games. We really enjoy a game called Dominion, which is a deck-building game. This concept of “deck building” is a new genre of board games that is really taking off in popularity! We bought “Thunderstone” and “Ascension” and pulled out Thunderstone to play yesterday evening. It had more rules and is marginally more complicated than Dominion, but it seems fun. Hubby tells me that Ascension is easier than Dominion and simpler in terms of game play, but we’ll see. I suspect we’ll try playing that tonight.

Then it was bill paying, dinner (leftover grilled chicken and leftover mushrooms), read a little bit of my book, and before I knew it, the day was over. Man, Sundays just go by too dang fast!

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