A craft beer road trip in America’s northeast
A trip through New York state could be spent entirely in the Big Apple, where craft beer events can be found almost every day (check Beer Menus’s calendar of events). New York City is also the home of Brooklyn Brewery, one of America’s best-known beer producers. The brewery offers free tours on Saturdays starting at noon and $8 “small batch” tours on weeknights starting at 5 pm. On Fridays, the tasting room hosts one of the most delicious happy hour events in town. Purchase beer tokens for $4 each (or $20 for 6) from 6 pm to 11 pm. Each token gets you a full cup of beer. Turn drinks into dinner by bringing your own food or ordering in (both are allowed). Must-try beers include the year-round standbys Brooklyn Brown Ale – malty with hints of coffee and toffee – and Brooklyner Weisse – a cloudy, spiced, wheat beer with a slight aroma of clove. If available, never turn down an opportunity to try one of Brooklyn’s Brewmasters Reserve beers, creative blends that are all highly flavourful.
About two hours east of the city, on New York’s Long Island, the Southampton Publick House is a charming microbrewery and restaurant just minutes from the beach. Check out the brewery’s “beer cellar”, a selection of unique limited release brews.
If you would rather skip New York City, you can head from Pennsylvania to upstate New York, home to a multitude of brewpubs and breweries.
In Lakewood, the geniuses at Southern Tier Brewing Company gave birth to the best pumpkin beer you will ever taste. If you visit the brewery this autumn, be sure to try Pumking, a smooth mix of savoury, sweet and subtle spice that disguises its alcoholic strength (8.6% ABV). This is more of a roasted pumpkin kind of beer than a pumpkin pie kind of beer. Southern Tier’s brewery tours start at 3 pm and 5 pm on Saturday afternoons. In the spring, tours are also available on Sundays.
About three hours east, Ithaca is another great beer town. At Ithaca Beer Company, try the Excelsior Line brews, specialty beers made with natural and often local ingredients. The award-winning Brute, a golden sour ale brewed with local hops, is a must-try. For something unique, the AlpHalpHa, made with local alfalfa honey and local hops, was released this autumn.
In Syracuse, the Empire Brewing Company, about an hour-and-a-half north of Ithaca, is also focused on local ingredients. The brewery has an impressive garden for growing hops, herbs and vegetables that can be used in its beers. Empire also prides itself on being the first business in central New York to be run entirely on New York State produced renewable energy.
Americans have been brewing beer in Massachusetts since the pilgrims first arrived on the Mayflower. There is even a brewery in Plymouth, Massachusetts named the Mayflower Brewing Company. Here are a few other breweries worth visiting.
What we love most about Boston’s Harpoon Brewery is its commitment to creativity and experimentation. Its 100 Barrel Series gives its brewers the artistic license to invent and test out new recipes every few months for limited supply batches. Currently in rotation is the Dočesná, a Czech-style hop harvest ale. The Boston brewery offers tours starting at 10:30 am on Saturdays and 11:30 am on Sundays, plus free tastings Monday through Friday from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Across the Charles River Basin, just 10 minutes away, the Cambridge Brewing Company is a great brewpub to relax over a pint and a meal. On Tuesdays, the brewery releases special edition cask conditioned beers – that is, unfiltered, unpasteurized beers with live yeast.
While you are in Massachusetts, drive through the town of Natick (just 30 minutes outside Boston) to visit Barleycorn’s Craft Brew, a facility that walks you through the process of making your own batch of beer. The whole thing costs about $150 (give or take, depending on your style), and you end up with six cases of homebrewed craft beer – personalized labels and all.