Monday, July 31, 2006

Flour City Brewer's Fest wrapup

This was a good time. The festival seemed to go off without a hitch. Thanks to the Rohrbach Brewing Company for organzing it and keeping things running smoothly.

Highlights of the festival: Flying Bison Oatmeal Stout and Southern Tier Phin and Matt's Extraordinary Ale. No surprise there.

Of course, the weather didn't coperate. It never does. Thunderstorms once again drove festival goers underneath the fringes of the brewers' tents, but did little to deter the crowd.

So I got a little glass to add to my collection of useless little glasses. Perhaps I'll buy a bunch of beers and use my little glass to have a private beer festival in my own home. Whee.


Friday, July 28, 2006

A glass, or seven, of Rochester tradition

Thanks to Greg Stacy of the High Falls Brewery for the cool Genny Cream Ale jacket, and for that matter the cool Genny Cream Ale. It's pretty good on draft. In fact, Bruce and I both think it would be pretty damn good on cask!

Anyway, let me pimp the brand new (launched yesterday)

Look, if we're gonna have a bunch of hipsters in chunky glasses and trucker hats ordering "ironic" beers, we could at least ensure that they go for the Rochester-brewed choice. I'm sick and tired of Pabst Blue Ribbon running away with the growing hipster market segment. So, Rochester hipsters, put down the Wilco album, belly up to the bar, and do your duty. Drink a Genny Cream Ale today.

Oh, and it was good to meet some of our readers last night. I appreciate the props for the column and blog. If you're a regular reader of our Freetime column, do us a favor. Drop them a quick e-mail at and let 'em know this column is reaching somebody.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Come taste the screamer!

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That's right. The High Falls Brewery is once again taking up the reins of this, um, time-honored classic American beer. And hey, for what it is, it's not bad. So if you're in Rochester, come drink some Genesee Cream Ale, and get some cool schwag. We'll be the first in line.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Beercraft newspaper column #18- Hard cider

Hard Cider- the lager alternative

By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

Let’s face it. Not everyone likes beer. We’ve pondered this position for many years and cannot come up with any other answer than the fact that they aren’t trying hard enough. It’s probably going a bit overboard, however, to say these folks have poor taste. Many beer haters we know are absolute connoisseurs of hard cider.

As soon as humans learn that certain fruit juices can be magically turned into tasty intoxifying beverages that don’t make you ill (unlike water, historically) they will indeed produce this beverage for daily consumption. Cider was most likely the first fermented beverage to be produced in colonial America. Easily produced at home, it enjoyed continued popularity even through prohibition. Cider met a decline in the United States after the end of the Second World War as light lager rapidly overtook the American palate.

Cider continued to be produced in Europe during the post war years, especially in the British Isles. The start of CAMRA (The CAMpaign for Real Ale) in Britain brought cider back into the world spotlight in the early 1980’s. It once again began to show up on store shelves and on draft in American bars. Recipes for cider also began to appear in the pages of homebrewing books.

Some people are surprised by cider’s breadth of flavors. Like wine, they range from very dry to very sweet, and each brand has unique complexities. The most commonly available ciders in the US, Woodchuck, Hornsby’s, and Woodpecker, tend toward the more easily marketed sweet side, but with a mimimum of searching, one can find several choices to please the more sophisticated palate.

Dagan Celtic Cider, produced in France, is closer in color to fresh pressed cider, but filtered. This cider is much drier than the overly sweet Woodchuck, and is in line with most of the true “craft” ciders that we have tasted in the past. The apple flavor is subtle and refreshing with just a hint of sweetness.

Doc’s Draft Cider is produced at the Warwick Valley Wine Co. in Warwick, New York. This cider is lighter in color than the Dagan and is a touch sweeter, but still much drier than Woodchuck.

The third cider producer is Bellwether Hard Cider, located on the west shore of Cayuga Lake. Bellwether has been producing fine ciders for about six years and offer five distinct varieties. Two are still, which means no carbonation. The other three are carbonated. They range from off-dry to semi-dry with one flavored with tart cherries.

Bill Barton, the proprietor of Bellwether gave a tour and some history about cider making. They use 100% local apples in their products and have planted their own orchard recently. The cidery is located at 9070 Route 89 in Trumansburg, New York and is well worth a visit while on a wine tour of west Cayuga Lake.

Although Bellweather is a bit of a haul for a casual beverage purchase, it’s a perfect stop if you’re on a Cayuga Lake wine tour, and the crisp, fresh cider provides an excellent counterpoint to the ubiquitous Finger Lakes reislings. Bill told us that they are working out details for distribution in the Rochester area. We will keep you posted on any developments, but keep your eyes open in the Rochester Public Market.

So if you’re not a beer lover, be happy; you still have something to live for. Just remember, a cider a day keeps the doctor away, but swig down thirteen and you’ll need a new spleen (sorry, it’s hard to rhyme with ‘liver’).

Bruce is a certified beer judge and former commercial brewer. Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to

I can't say enough about the Flower City Brewer's Fest

...Mostly because I screwed up my deadline days and missed my chance to cover it before the next issue of But hell, our blog readership is only a smidgeon smaller than out print readership, so we'll cover it here. BeerAdvocate has a page with all the details of the event.

Bruce and I will be in attendance, of course. Looks like we'll be hitting the second session. Then calling a cab.


Monday, July 24, 2006

High Falls steps it up

Good times at High Falls Brewery. Head brewer Dave Schlosser is releasing J.W. Dundee's IPA, the first India Pale from the Rochester Brewery since High Falls IPA in the mid '90s. It'll premiere at the High Falls Brewer's fest July 29th.

Also, Genesee Cream Ale is making a resurgence. Look for a push on this venerable Rochester beer at both Monty's Krown and Monty's Korner. Hey, it's a premium beer in the South...

Anyway, we'll see you at the festival. Second session. -Mark

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary to Me! And a gripe about fine dining.

Well, the 16th was my first wedding anniversary. We're celebrating it today by holding a clambake. Shitty weather for it, bute we'll cope.

So it's off to Beers of the World for a couple of cases. I'm tempted to go with American micros since I haven't been giving them their due lately. Maybe or something from What goes well with clams?

Anyway, Last night after the game, I stopped by the a fine dining restaurant where a friend of mine bartends. As is fitting for a place whose entrees hover around $20 per dish, the wine list was excellent and extensive.

But the beer choices sucked.

Heineken, Stella, Labatt Blue, Bud, Coors Light. This beer menu belongs at a baseball stadium, not a place of gastronomy. Why is beer always so totally ignored by chefs? There's a whole world of it out there, and you're stuck with Coors light to complement your Crispy Skinned Maple Leaf Farms Boneless Duck Breast. Gimme a place with a beer cellar, thanks very much. Oh, and waiter, you don't have to open it at my table. I have a keychain for that.



Thursday, July 20, 2006

The High Falls Brewer's Fest

Hot on the heels of Belgium comes to Cooperstown is the High Falls Brewers Fest here in sunny Rochester, NY.

On July 29, brewers from all over the northeast will gather at the High Falls festival site for your sampling pleasure. The festival is sponsored by the Rohrbach Brewing Company, who will of course have a booth there.

So bring $20 and a designated driver, or at least the phone number of a cab company. Some of these breweries pour beer that needs to be sampled again and again. -Mark

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Recovering from Belgium Comes to Cooperstown

We had a great time at Ommegang's Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival. Thanks to Chris from Ommegang for inviting us down.

Right now, I'm trying to discover from vast quantities of tripel, a sleepless night (thanks, asshole with the bongo drum), and a drive back to Rochester. A full review is pending.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Beer works, not bad for an engine of commerce

We went to the on Wednesday. It's cavernous and modern, with lots of "BEER WORKS" themed merchandise on display. Things like this always make me worry; in my experience places that lead with the decor and the crap pimping usually come up short in the quality of the beer.

However, Beer Works did not disappoint, once you got past the cutesy beer names. The Buckeye Oatmeal Stout was very good, balanced with a dry finish. I'd also reccommend the It's light in body with a sweetish malt character.

Beer Works is a chain now, but they haven't forgotten what got them there. Keep brewing, guys!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Boston, Pt. III

There seem to be two types of bars here: corporate-owned, tourist-oriented faux-Irish megapubs and relatively comfortable holse in the wall. Having spent considerable time in both, I can say that Boston is a pretty good drinking town, although many bars lack the variety to which I'm accustomed in my native Rochester.

Still, there's plenty of Harpoon IPA, and that's just fine by me. Here are the better pubs I've visited so far:

There will be more. Tonight, my friend Patrick and I will be checking out an area microbrewery, although we've yet to decide on which one.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Boston follies

This is a pretty cool town. Lots to do, lots of places with good stuff on tap. We wound up in which lives up to its billing and, as far as I can tell, is the only genuinely Irish bar in Boston.

Thanks to the folks who threw me suggestions. I'm going to continue avoiding the tourist traps and smell out Boston's best beers. In case you were wondering, is certainly not it.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hellooo Beantown

I'm in Boston all week on business. during the day, anyway. At night I'll turn into a partyin' fool! Don't tell my wife.

Anyway, It'll be fun to sniff out the best of B oston's beer bars; rest assured I'll be cataloging them here.Any suggestions would be tres appreciated.

Hell, if I get crazy enough, I might even swig a Sam Adams!


Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's a Belgian dip

Admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of Belgian beers. I like 'em, but unless I'm in the proper mood, my first choice isn't going to be that funky trappist ale that tastes vaguely like somebody's basement.

That said, I've been enjoying as of late. I drank an awful lot of it a couple of days ago to drown my sorrows after Germany got Eliminated by the Italians. In doing so, I've reacquainted my palate with some of the more complex and subtle characteristics of Belgian ales.

It's fortuitous, then, that we're heading to a festival of Belgian ales sponsored by Brewery Ommegang. You'll get a full report. With pics. Because I won't remember.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Beercraft Newspaper Column #17- Brewery Ommegang

Ommegang brings Belgium to Upstate New York

By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

It’s only Monday, but that doesn’t stop your intrepid beer writers. We raise our glasses of Ommegang Witte and inspect the apricot-colored liquid within. Then comes the first sip. The light body of the Belgian witbeer (wheat beer) cools the mouth pleasantly. The flavors of coriander and orange peel, so characteristic to this style, are augmented by a citrusy grapefruit flavors. We are happy men.

And not just because Chris Sayer, Regional Sales Manager for what might be the most unique brewery in the United States, is buying.

Of all the world’s great brewing nations, tiny Belgium is held in highest esteem by beer lovers. The beers produced within its commercial breweries and venerable Trappist monasteries are unique and complex and the traditional methods of Belgian brewcraft diverge radically from the clean-room fanaticism of beer makers in neighboring countries.

The things that make these ales great have also served to limit their brewing to within Belgian borders. Natural airborne yeasts, century-old storage casks, and the devotion that comes with a cloistered blend of brewing and religion make these beers difficult to reproduce on this side of the pond. Many breweries flirt with Belgian styles, but rarely do they accurately match the real stuff’s parameters.

Cooperstown’s Brewery Ommegang, however, pulls it off, thanks to some heavy financing from Duvel, its parent brewery in Belgium, authentic imported yeast, and a commitment to tradition which is reflected in everything from the corked bottles to the architecture of the brewery itself.

Let’s be clear. Brewery Ommegang is not just another microbrewery that decided to go heavy on Belgian styles. It is a Belgian brewery in design and function, built to be so from the ground up. The place even looks more like a small cathedral than a brewhouse.

Standouts among the Ommegang range of beers include Sayers’ favorite, Rare Vos. “It’s a very nice session beer,” he explains,” very easy to drink and very pleasant in the summertime. It’s also nice and malty, which I like.”

The pale golden Hennepin, an example of the farmhouse ale style, is rich, complex and strong. To describe Hennepin’s flavor as “well balanced between maltiness and bitterness, with citrus fruit hints and a grassy finish” really doesn’t do it justice. It tastes like, well, good Belgian ale.

Then there’s Ommegang Three Philosophers. Hopefully you like your beer strong. It’s a Quadrupel, which is apparently a Flemish word for “owwww, get me an aspirin.”

At 9.8% alcohol by volume, Three Philosophers needs to be consumed with some respect. But this very malty brew with lots of cherry and alcoholic warming in the finish is not a chugging beer. It almost resembles port whine in its character and mouth feel.

Ommegang’s beers are readily available throughout the region. Wegmans and most specialty beer stores carry them in bottles, and some are available on draft at enlightened pubs.

Or you could sample them in their natural habitat. This July 15th, the brewery will be hosting its annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival, offering a chance to try a diverse assortment of beers from various Belgian and American breweries, as well as the full line of Ommegang ales. If you’re new to Belgians, the festival will provide fantastic insight into the staggering diversity and iconoclasm of beer from one of Europe’s more diminutive nations.

In other beers:
The California Brew Haus up on Ridge Road remains a bastion of good beer, although their clientele has lessened as Kodak slimmed down. Even now, the selection of bottles to be found within their coolers is staggering: four Scotch ales (from Scotland!), several English bitters, beers normally found only within the beer halls of Munich, and a full selection of American micros. It may be a bit out of the way, but the Brew Haus staff knows their stuff and deserves your business. After serving up some delicious Augustiner Edel-Hell, they sure as hell have ours!

Bruce is a certified beer judge and former commercial brewer. Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mixed blessings

I have to say, I'm thrilled that France beat Brazil. But I'm not so happy about the England Portugal game. Now that Brazil's out, I have no idea what the moronic American commentators will prattle on about. Oh, and Ronaldinho can suck it.

In memory of England's 2006 World Cup run, I toasted wth an I tried to drink a Portugese beer, but every time I went to pick it up, it fell on its side and rolled around.