Thursday, August 07, 2008

Microbrews from Vermont and New York State

My husband Carlos and I have a running beer tasting debate. When it comes to microbrew beer, he prefers the india pale ale and I prefer the hefeweizen wit or white Belgian style beer.

On a recent road trip through New York State and Vermont, we had the chance to sample several of the local microbrews along the way. The first wasn't the best -- Otter Creek Ale from Middlebury, Vermont, which was somewhat skunky, not extremely fresh and gaining a 6 on our 10-point scale. While visiting the New England Culinary Institute in Essex, Vermont, I ordered a fine hefeweizen beer on tap, Harpoon's UFO or Unfiltered Offering from the Harpoon Brewery, located in Windsor, Vermont. My server smiled approvingly when I ordered it, and it was a wonderful summery, smooth beer. It is best on tap, though after later trying it in the bottled version, found it was still good. Carlos gives it an 8, but I award it a 9. Though not a huge white beer fan, he preferred Wolaver's certified organic wit bier, also made by Otter Creek Brewing, which is far superior to its Otter Creek Ale. Do the microbrews get their water from Moss Glen Falls?

Southern Tier, an India Pale Ale brewed close to the southern New York State highway that bears the same name rated a 9 from Carlos. But I just plain turned up my nose at it after one bottle. He felt this ale was fresh and non-skunky unlike the Otter Creek.

One of the trip's disappointments was missing the tour of the Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York. We'd logged too many miles to drive back the next morning after breezing past it on Route 86. They make the Beligian style Witte beer, among others. We pulled into our hotel in Schoharie late that night and saw an inviting display in the lobby for Ommegang's fine line-up of beers. But they didn't sell it! It was only a 3D showcase for the brewery.
Along the way, Carlos tried Rock Art Ridge Runner wine ale from Vermont. We had seen lots of empties lying around after a late-night artists' campfire at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. After sampling the sole bottle he bought, he gave an enthusiastic 10 to the brew.

There was one last, but not least, beer that we waited to open after our return home to Chicago. Circus Boy, The Hefeweizen! is brewed by the Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. According to the label it is "unfiltered and unfettered" and according to Carlos and me, we finally found a beer we could completely agree upon. I loved the full-bodied, unfiltered taste, and he liked the slight bitter edge that the Harpoon's UFO did not have. We both give this one a 10. But then, the beer at trail's end is always a welcome comfort and marks a time of special celebration. Cheers!

P.S. Mickey Dolenz, the original Circus Boy, you'd been upstaged after all these decades. You were a hard act to follow, but you did one up yourself by becoming a Monkee.


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