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It was pleasure to taste the latest additions to Dundee’s product line in a virtual tasting format along with brewer Jim McDermott and a few other writers and bloggers. The new beers are the Summer Wheat, Kolsch-style Ale and Stout . The Kolsch and Stout being found in the very popular Dundee variety pack and the American Wheat being available in 6 packs etc.. I really enjoyed these beers and think that the Dundee line of beers just keeps on getting stronger. The Summer Wheat is an excellent example of an American Wheat, unfiltered  with 40% wheat in the grain bill, a nice touch of rye malt and Chinook, Centennial and Cascade hops. It’s light in flavor and has nice citrusy aroma and a crisp finish. American Wheat beers usually leave me a bit disappointed, but this one definitely does not and will definitely be gracing my fridge’s shelf this summer, move over Cream Ale! Next we tasted the Kolsch-style Ale featuring German Hallertau hops, this is a nice full bodied beer a wee bit heavier than your typical Kolsch style yet still refreshing and oh so drinkable, in fact I found myself grabbing the sucking down all Kolsch’s first at my Memorial Day barbecue. This beer will pair with just about anything you throw on the grill this summer. Last we sampled the Stout, which is one of the summer seasonals in the variety pack. I know what you saying – a Summer stout? Yep that’s right! This beer was the biggest surprise of the bunch for me. This stout falls somewhere in the middle of the flavor profile between a Sweet Stout and and Dry Irish style stout and does possess a nice balanced sweetness with flavors of chocolate, coffee and a subtle bitterness/finish from the Galena hops, I also noticed a nice roasted aroma from that I attribute to the roasted barley malts added to the mash. Brewer Jim McDermott recommended trying this with with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream as a “Stout Float” what a great idea and I look forward to trying that myself.
I also asked about any of the seasonals being available on their own (six packs etc.) and was told there wasn’t any plan for that at the time, but they always listen to their fans feedback and would consider it in the future based on feedback. So Dundee fans don’t hesitate to give them a shout out on twitter @dundeebeer and let them know what you think.

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Buckbean Beer

I’d like to start this post by thanking the nice people at Buckbean Brewing Company for sending me some of their beers for me to sample. Buckbean Brewing Company is located in Reno Nevada, founded by Douglas Booth and Brewmaster Daniel Kahn. I wasn’t familiar with their beers before getting this chance to try them. I loved that they can all their beer in 16 ounce cans, which I think should be the mandatory can size for all craft breweries.

The first beer I tried was their Tule Duck Red Ale 6.25%abv. This ruby colored, rich and robust red ale has hints of candied fruit and a smooth and restrained hop finish. I was a surprised right from the start, this isn’t your typical red ale and it almost wanders into Belgian ale flavor profiles. As a lover of red ales I find that not very many stand out in my memory, but this one is surely one I’ll remember. The next beer I tried was their Black Noddy Schwarzbier 5.2%abv. This black German style lager had a lovely mild roastiness and sweetness with tingly carbonation on the tounge and a smooth hop finish. A lovely schwarzbier! In fact halfway through my pint I had to rip into some Swans Market sausage which paired with this perfectly – Prost!. The next beer I sampled was the Very Noddy Lager 10.5%abv, an Imperial Schwarzbier! This beer has twice malt and hops of the Black Noddy Lager and is opaque black in color with lovely caramel head on it, very rich and a lot roasted nuttiness make this beer something to savor. I really didn’t notice the high alcohol because this beer was so smooth and well balanced. The last beer I sampled was the Orange Blossom Ale 5.8%abv, Right from the start I picked up the sweet scent of orange blossoms and this ale is smooth and creamy with just a hint of orange essence which comes from the orange blossom water they use as an ingredient. It had nice restrained mild tartness flavor and smooth hop finish . This would be a nice beer to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Overall I was impressed by Buckbeans originality and have to say all their beers were very well balance and smooth across the board. The Black Noddy and Very Noddy were definitely my favorites and I look forward to trying them again sometime. One thing I found amusing when reading up on Buckbean Brewing Co. was that the founders goal was to “Create a new type of microbrew appealing to both male and female drinkers.” which I thought was kind of funny!- but I do have to say that Mrs. Cream Ale Drinker who likes beer but isn’t an enthusiast like myself really loved the schwarzbier, to the point she said she could drink it more often – that was a first, she also really liked the Orange Blossom Ale. As far as I know Buckbean’s beers are only available in Nevada area but I did hear of tastings coming up in the the New York City area so perhaps they exploring distribution options. I hope so!

Fresh Hops

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There is an interesting article on “Fresh Hops” over at the NY Times.
Check it out here.

SchwablesbowI usually spend my work days pushing pixels at my desk while gazing out the window looking north over the city of Rochester. So it was nice break from routine to go to Buffalo last week on business. Buffalo is definitely on the list of places within an hours or so of me that I’d like to explore more. So once lunch time arrive I was off to seek out  the “original” beef on the kimmelweck at Schwabl’s Restaurant in West Seneca. The restaurants history goes way back to 1837 and Sebastian Schwabl opening up shop on Broadway in downtown Buffalo, this would be start of several other locations including one at Pan Am Expostion in Buffalo in 1901. Several generations of the Schwabl family have proudly represented what’s thought to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in Niagara county. Even prohibiton couldn’t slow down Schwabl’s.

mini_15612When you pull up to Schwabl’s you see a small house converted into a Restaurant with a lovely vintage steel and neon sign out front. When you enter the restaurant it’s like stepping back in time. The bar is just inside the entance and features cocktails made the old fashion way, no pre-made mixes here. They also feature seasonal old fashioned punches – and I’m kicking myself for not ordering a glass of the Ebenezer Punch. I ordered an Flying Bison Aviator Red Ale which was delicious and then  proceeded to wait a few minutes for a table to become available. Right at the end of the short bar is the master of ceremony – the butcher, frantically sharpening his very large knife and meticulously hand slicing the juicy, roasted beef to order – what a sight. Me and my companion both ordered the Beef on a Weck which comes with 2 sides –  choice of fries/mashed/german potatoe salad and choice of coleslaw or beets. We both ordered our sandwich’s rare and they did not disappoint. Tender juicy beef on the softest kimmelweck roll I’ve ever had, crusted with coarse salt and a sprinkle of caraway seeds. They hand dip the roll into the au jus from the beef before making you sandwich. Dam, this is making my stomach growl as I type this -so if want to taste the original and take step back to good ole’ days get your butt over to Schwabl’s, they won’t disappoint… and do me a favor and order the punch and let me know how it is.

Naplesview

Foliage just starting to turn, apples being picked, grape pies being baked by the hundreds in mom and pop kitchens to be sold roadside, these are just a few of the offerings you’ll find on a beautiful drive about an hour south from Rochester to the Naples, NY and it’s annual Grape Festival. The family packed into the Subaru and we headed down to Naples for the highly anticipated Grape Fest, fantasizing along the way about what it would be like to give up suburban life for life in the country, nestled into beautiful tree and vineyard covered hills of the Finger Lakes region. I don’t get to explore the Finger Lakes nearly enough as I’d like to, so the Grape Fest is always a great excuse to take in some fresh air and a nice country drive. We saw deer and a few wild turkeys on our journey along with some red tailed hawks swooping overhead. You know you’re getting close once you see the roadside yard sale style stands offering homemade grape pies and sometimes even cookies and tarts along some other varieties including loganberry and the occasional apple pie. Once we got to the festival I didn’t see nearly as much grape stuff as I expected but more of a diverse sample of local products and wares. We did see Arbor Hill Winery’s many varieties of wine jellies, Naples brand and Nunda brand mustard (one my favs) along with many craft and artist booths selling there wares. We also enjoyed watching my 2 year get down to the reggae-ified jam tunes of the always excellent Buddahood band. There was also a wine tent beside the music tent which I didn’t remember from previous festivals. This festival is a great way to welcome fall and enjoy all the wonderful things fall offers in the Upstate. Our last stop of the trip before heading back to Rochester was the highly recommended Joseph’s Wayside Market at south end of Main Street. There you’ll find a wonderful bounty of local flowers, fruit, vegetables, local cheeses along with fresh baked goods and other miscellaneous items and gifts.

Joseph's Wayside Market

Joseph's Wayside Market

The dutch apple pie we picked up from Joseph’s to go along with our grape pie from the festival was still warm and both pies were some of the best we’ve had. My personal favorite is Joseph’s Extra Sharp NY Cheddar a standout as compared to what you’ll usually bring home from the grocery store. (What I consider to be an authentic New York extra sharp cheddar.) In addition we also brought home some mums, a bushel of honey crisp apples along with a jug of cider. So don’t let the changing of the seasons deter you from getting out and exploring or you’ll be missing out on some of the best things Upstate NY has to offer.

NYbrewtrlThere is top notch article on Craft Breweries in NY/ Empire State Beer trail over at the Syracuse New Times. A must for any NY craft brewing enthusiast.
Check it out here.
There is also a link to the official State beer trail site at the end of this post.

I’m also looking forward to upcoming Middle Ages Brewing Co. Beer Social at the Tap & Mallet on Wednesday Aug. 26th. Shame on you if you haven’t hit one of these beer socials yet at the Tap & Mallet, I would strongly recommend attending but buy your tickets early because they always sell out. They are a lot of fun and the beer social format is fun and relaxed way to enjoy and learn about a specific breweries brews.

I’ve also heard that  Goose Island‘s beers hailing from Chicago Il. are now being distributed in the Rochester area, not sure where exactly other than hearing the Tap & Mallet has one or two on tap (if the kegs aren’t kicked yet). I’m looking forward to giving them a try. I also finally got my hands on Genesee Cream Ale and regular Genesee tall boy cans or “Pounders” as we call them in south central PA. I walked into work Monday and they were sitting on my desk courtesy of a co-worker. It’s funny how certain beer evoke memories of the last time you’ve enjoyed them even if it’s been a decade or more. The tallboy cans for instance reminded me of the days stumbling along the alleys and streets of Oakland-Pittsburgh, Pa when I was in college sipping on of all things Blatz Pounders. I haven’t had or seen a “Blatz” since then. The Genesee tall boys are available at Aman’s Farm Market in Irondequoit at 2458 East Ridge Road and from what I’ve heard they have a good beer selection over there… So check them out if your in the neighborhood.

More information and maps on the Empire State Beer Trail can be found here.

I’d like to start off this post by thanking Jaime Barclay for taking the time to craft this post and for being my first guest poster on my blog. I’ve been catching word on the twittisphere about Nathaniel Square’s Corner Store for a few weeks now (mostly from Jaime) and thought it would be fitting if she wrote a post about them.

I am a bit of an anomaly; I’m a young, professional beer-loving woman in a sea of men. I never over indulge, you won’t see me disrespecting the experience, and my choice is always calculated. I know every spot in Rochester that sells craft beer, which locations will order new beers I’m looking to try, and where to find the freshness.

Beer is an experience; I want my buying to be just as enjoyable as my tasting.

With the tighter economy I may not be going out as much, but I am deliberately choosing where to live my life. One of my favorite sayings is “Thank you for allowing me to spend my money at your store/bar/or restaurant”.

One of my newest and most favorite places to be and be seen is Nathaniel Square Corner Store at 495 South Avenue in the South Wedge. The concept is sheer genius, old fashion corner store with the tastiest, freshest, and most knowledgeable people talking “shop”.

What else would you expect from owners John Roth (aka “Taco John” ~ John’s Tex Mex) and Jay Schreiber (hippest drummer from the Niche & lead singer/guitar for Slow Light), they love the South Wedge and are a couple of the sickest beer, NON snobs around. You walk in and you feel at home; no stuffiness here and no tacky signage. Only glass bottled milk from Byrne Dairy, fresh pastries and bread from Georgie’s, cool craft sodas, and 10 cooler doors of hoppy goooodness.

We only have one Rochester, one today, and one life; why settle for less than what we want. Sometimes we want an $8 12-pk and sometimes we are into a yummy $8 deuce deuce; whatever your choice, make it local.

Nathaniel Square Corner Store is centrally located and lucky for me they are directly on my way anywhere I’m going. They are open Monday – Friday 7am-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm and Sunday 9am-5pm. They are on Twitter and you can always follow me for updates on all things #craftbeer and #ROC.

Now I’m thirsty….

*I do not work for Nathaniel Square Corner Store, but am proud sponsor of their concept, ethic, and serious craft beer selection.

– In addition to their thoughtfully chosen beer selection they also offer mixed six packs by style/theme. Ex. Some of the ones I’ve heard about are Summer Beers, IPA’s and Stouts availability is limited. – Daron