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New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Beer from Lemons

I internet jinxed myself. It seems whenever I announce something on Facebook, Twitter, or even apparently my blog, it tends not to happen. Exhibit A: I was looking forward to going up near Ti this weekend, as stated in my previous (guest) blog, and I ended up not going hiking near there as I had planned.
But I can't complain, really.
My friends and I still met early Saturday morning, even though I only got about five hours of sleep the night prior. Crystal, who lives near me, arrived just as the rain started to become a bit heavy and Jessie, whose wedding I will be in later this summer in Maine, got to my place as the downpour began. We obviously were not hiking today.
We started brainstorming - there was a Soapbox Derby I read about on, and Americade up in Lake George, or my parent's camp in Grafton could be nice. Then, even though it was 8:30 in the morning, I came up with the idea of going to a brewery, Ommegang to be specific. I knew it was less than two hours away and in an area I used to visit often as a child - Cooperstown.
We agreed that the brewery was the way to go. So, we had breakfast at the Cafe Madison near my house which is of course well-known for its brunches and laid our course for I-90 then Route 88 using, much to my dismay, GPSs.
We got there with no problem but had to park in a nearby field with the visitor parking was already full, even though they had just opened for the day at 11am which was not too much before we arrived.
There were two games of old-style baseball going on with one game with rules from 1864 and another with rules from 1867. The main difference is that an out can still occur if a ball is caught after it bounces with the earlier rules (I only know because I asked one of the players).
It felt very Cooperstown-y, ya know, since the place is known for the Baseball Hall of Fame. And I guess our impromptu trip was well-timed since the teams only play at Ommegang maybe once or twice a year.
The actual beer facility is comprised of a large, old-looking brewery area and a gift store/pub in a separate building out back, near a large field. My bf and I have been meaning to check out their annual summer camp outs which I hear are fun and involve a lot of drinking. They sell out every year.
The beer tasting, which we arrived just in time for, was probably the best I've ever been on (and I've been on a lot of beer tasting/tours). For one, it was free. And, on top of that, it included sampling four of their mustards/condiments and three of their cheese dips (I liked most of them because horseradish was a main ingredient in a few of them). At the end, there was a dark chocolate pairing with their Three Philosophers brew, which was one of about six beers we tried.
The brewery, established in 1997, is named after an annual festival in Belgium that has roots back to the 16th century. They have Belgian beer partners and name many of their beers with Belgian names - like the popular Rare Vos actually means sly fox in Flemish.
Granted, after spending $40 on gifts for my boyfriend and sister and myself, the tour,etc was technically not free anymore but it was still worth the 1 1/2 hour trip.
When you go: be sure to ask what the Princess parking is near the brewery (it's kind of funny) and save some time for the Dollhouse Hall of Fame nearby. We didn't get to check it out but it's free and it just sounds...uh...interesting.


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