Oswego Brewing Company

So I got up this morning and Dad mentioned that there was a new brewery opening today in Oswego. I told him I already knew about it and asked him if he’d want to go. Dad said sure. Now, if you know Dad, he isn’t the beer connoisseur I am so I wondered what piqued his interest. So, the brewery opened at noon today. I said why don’t I vacuum my car and get it ready to go and then we could go this afternoon. He said sounds good. So while he fixed his grill’s starter I got the car cleaned…and away we went.

I took dad through the country and we had the windows open – what a beautiful day. I turned onto Main street in Oswego and Dad goes – do you know where it is…I said there abouts. It is in an old fire station…and if you know downtown Oswego you know it isn’t more than a few blocks. So I turned down main and saw the businesses that I knew it shared a building with. I was a bit disappointed that there was no signage on Main Street – which is what their address is. Makes it a bit hard to find if you are searching by address….they are in the back of the building facing the railroad tracks and ultimately the river.

The entire parking lot was fenced in and tents were up…they clearly were prepared for a crowd…but none yet. A band an food truck will greet people after hours…so Dad and I picked a good time to come (around an hour after they opened). The tap room (which seats 60 with room for an additional 20 in the back) was pretty full, but not packed. They had a ticketing system to expedite the lines. And they had six beer on tap. I bought 2 beers for me and two beers for my Pops. You could redeem the beers in half glass increments. I figured Dad would go for two full ones…I wanted to try the beers.

The beers were very good..I was impressed. I liked the cream ale and NEIPA the best…though their saison was good. I wasn’t overly impressed with the American IPA. I thought it lacked some body and didn’t have the depth of hops I was expecting…but that could be just a rushed batch. That being said, it was definitely at the level of some of the other brewers best beers. Minor problems! The brewery has some potential. A few finishing touches (like better signage) and it’ll be more than successful. Their bar has a handcrafted herringbone pattern and the seating floats from it. I’ll definitely be back and I wish them great success…



Labatt Brewery, London, Ontario

I had the opportunity to visit the Labatt flagship brewery the other day. It was a bit sad because they pushed Budweiser products and were packaging Budweiser products – not the beer that they were known for. Labatt is an older brewery having been in London since 1847…quite a long stretch. The current brewery is on the site of the original brewery just south of Downtown London. The tour guide was phenomenal and definitely one of the better macrobrew tours I’ve been on. You start in the John Labatt room, which is a very fancy banquet room in what appears to have been built in the late 40’s/early 50’s but is very well taken care of. The complex is quite large and very modern. The owners are in the process of updating the equipment so it was interesting to see a stock of parts in the trash from their old canning line and then going inside to see the new canning line.


The tour was a mere C$12.00 which is about $9.30. The tour starts from the John Kinder Labatt room which is kind of a museum of artifacts from the Labatt brewing history. From there you go to see where they brew the beer. It was quite a tight space as they use the facility quite efficiently. You work your way through the aging, fermentation, cold chilling, pasteurization, and packaging. All along the way you get a detailed explanation of what is going on and why. And the history of the brewery is wound in. They even explain how they reuse bottles to be more environmentally friendly and you get to see how much they really do produce! What is amazing is that the site, which is quite large, has virtually no storage space. As such, the beer goes right from the plant onto the back of a truck. They are quite busy, operating 6 days and 24 hours a day. They take Sunday’s off…

The tour ended back in the Labatt room. You got the opportunity to sample some beers. I was a bit disappointed with this feature of the tour because they only sampled one Labatt product! I got to sample Budweiser and Budweiser Prohibition (their alcohol free beer) and noted the tastes are quite similar. I don’t like non-alcoholic beer but this was a really, really good close to real beer non-beer. Do you think it might get me in trouble if I took it to work for lunch?

We then moved onto a craft brew which was Mill Street Organic – which is brewed at the craft brewery of Mill Street in Toronto (AB-InBev also owns Mill Street).

The next and first Canadian brew up was Alexander Keith’s Red Amber Ale. Alexander Keith is an old Nova Scotia brewery. Apparently it made it to the US in 2011…but I can’t recall ever seeing it.

We then moved to Corona – which is not brewed by Labatt or brewed in Canada for that matter. They brought this in special for Cinco de Mayo. I’ve never been a big fan, but I thought it was a nice touch.

Finally we got to the beer brand I associate with London…Labatt. I’ve eyed Labatt 50 Ale for some time. I drink Labatt Blue when I watch hockey…but I never have had 50 ale. It is sold in the US as Labatt Canadian Ale. Before I get into the description of this one, I am going to pause and go back to how it came to be. Around the start of the century, the grandchildren of John Kinder Labatt, Hugh and John S Labatt took over. Prohibition in Canada in 1933 and Labatt was one of fifteen survivors. But the times were rough. In 1950 Labatt produced a special ale to commemorate 50 years of service from Hugh and John S Labatt. It was designed for the working man. Originally called Anniversary Ale it was nicknamed Annie Ale…not very manly. So they pushed the branding for 50. It was sold in stubbys and was Canada’s #1 beer from 1968 until 1979 when it was supplanted by it’s big brother….Blue.

Labatt introduced their flagship brew Labatt Blue in 1951 (originally called Labatt Pilsner, but nicknamed because of the colour of the bottle and the companies support of the Canadian Football Team – the Blue Bombers).  It is the beer you are likely familiar with, if you are in the Northeast where they have their largest US market. Due to the purchase of Labatt by AB-InBev and anti-trust concerns, Anheuser Busch cannot sell the Labatt they produce in the US. If you buy Labatt in New York it comes in 12 oz bottles. Those are produced by North American Breweries and is apparently brewed in the Genesee plant in Rochester. But if you move west and drink it in Illinois it comes in the standard Canadian beer bottle of 341 ml. (which is 12 imperial ounces but only 11.5 US ounces) rather than the traditional 355ml longneck (12.5 imperial ounces, 12.0 US ounces) we are used to here in the US. Why can you get two sizes in the US? Well, Labatt brews for Canada but can’t brew to export to the US…so they subcontract it out to their competitor Molson…

We ended with a couple of new brews. They are radlers. A radler is 50% fruit juice and 50% beer. Radler is German and is a nod to bicycling. Legend says that a German innkeeper was waiting for his cyclist regulars to return, when he realized that he didn’t have enough beer to quench their thirst. Improvising, as true Germans do, he blended (or watered down, depending on your opinion) the beer he had with lemonade. It proved popular. Radlers are generally done with grapefruit or lemon. As such, Labatt introduced Bud Light Grapefruit to the market. And, yes, this is a Canadian invention. Grapefruit has been available in the US while Lemon is starting to be introduced. We tried both. Not much of a beer flavour, I could see this being popular with those who don’t particularly care for beer.

And while you think the tasting was the end of the tour…we had one more stop. On our way out we visited the garage where two Labatt vehicles were stored.


Overall it was a wonderful experience. One I enjoyed a lot and was well worth the 2 hours and $9.30 I invested.

You can learn more about Labatt over at: https://labattheritage.lib.uwo.ca/

Wolff’s Biergarten and Wurst Haus

I had to be in Troy for a wake of a friend’s father. Since I usually am not in the Albany area on a weeknight I decided to mosey on over to a place I wanted to try for a while. I had originally found Wolff’s when I was here on my training/house hunting journeys…but being a cash only place I didn’t end up staying…


10007415_678012072259153_716396980_nWolff’s is a German beer hall built in an old fire station. And you probably wonder if I was in Troy why didn’t I stop at the one in Troy? Well, 29597706_10155765874807415_3695169717772512902_nAlbany is the original location and I was told it is the better location for visiting. Plus this location had Köstritzer Pale Ale which I have wanted to try for many, many years. It was a great experience especially since I got an upgrade (or discount) for happy hour. They are a cash only business, so no credit cards – which is refreshing to not have to have a “tap” open.


Köstritzer has been one of my favorite beers since I tried it in Leipzig for the first time.  And I’m glad I went…





Racing City Brewing Company

IMG_6409It is no secret that I am a fan of the local beer scene…there are over 393 breweries in New York, the most since 1876 (Dad remembers that well, right?)  You may recall that last January the Olde Saratoga Brewing Company went under. Well, a new brewery opened up just a minute down the street from the old Olde Saratoga Brewing Company called Racing City Brewing Company. I went last night and enjoyed the beer. The owners are from New Jersey, quite friendly, and the place is very nicely decorated.  It is a bit different than some other breweries in that it has a winery attached as well…perfect if you want a beer and the wifey wants a wine.


Check them out at: http://olivavineyards.com/racingcitybrewing/




I have always wanted to visit MASS MoCA since I’ve been out here but never had the chance. For those of you who are wondering, I’m talking about the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which currently is the largest Contemporary Art museum in the United States. It is about a quarter the size of the Art Institute (of Chicago). Now, being that it is Massachusetts you’d think a place this large must be in a larger community like Boston…but it’s not. It is about as far from Boston you can get without leaving Massachusetts. That is it is in the far northwest corner of the state in a small community called North Adams.

MASS MoCA is different. It is in an old manufacturing program. Originally built for Arnold Print Works, between 1870 and 1900. The complex is quite large and is situated between two forks of the Hoosic River. The Arnold brothers company dates earlier, to about 1860, and printed cloth for the Union Army.  They lasted until the start of World War II when the price of cloth fell significantly as a result of the great depression.

Spraugue Electric Company moved in and made capacitors. They peaked in the 1960’s with 4,137 employees in a town of just 18,000 folks. Big things that they worked on were the triggers for both the Atomic Bomb and the Gemini launch systems. The company began a decline amid internationalization and struggled to compete (like so many companies along the Hoosic river). In 1985 Spraugue moved out and left a superfund site.

MASS MoCA is more than just an art museum. They also are a cultural center. When I pulled in the parking lot it was rapidly filling up. I thought, oh crap, it will be packed. But, literally, this place is so huge that you felt like you had the museum to yourself.

It is truly one of my favorite museums ever and a place I will return to again, very soon. And here, from the museum itself, you can explore the World of MASS MoCA.

Albany Tulips

Well, it appears that my hopes to photograph the beautiful tulips in Albany isn’t going to work out. Yup, you guessed it, it started to rain. Oh well…I did get a few pictures before the storm.

The first picture, well, doesn’t have tulips but I really liked the blooms on the tree.


This set of tulips was on the corner by where I park for church. It is amazing how beautiful they are. I tried to make it over to the lake house but there was an event going on so it was mobbed. By the time I made it to Moses, it was raining…Oh well…


Albany River Rats

Yesterday was the last Albany River Rat’s night at the Times Union Center. I can’t believe in less than a month 24 years of AHL hockey in Albany will be over.

The River Rats were the franchise that was here originally, well before Hartford_Whalers_Logo.svgmy time. Orginally affiliated with the New Jersey Devils, they switched affiliations to the Carolina Hurricaines (which started life as the New England/Hartford Whalers – which has, I may add, had the coolest logo).  When they were sold to a group of investors to be closer to the home team the New Jersey Devils moved their franchise from Lowell Massachusetts to Albany (about 2 1/2 short hours from Newark) to be closer to their home turf.  This brought some upgrades to the Times Union Center including NHL quality locker rooms.

So, you may ask, what does this have to do with my becoming a NJ Devils fan.  Well, when I moved out here, my friend who grew up going to the Rats (and became a NJ Devils fan through those same Rats games) told me about hockey.  Not being from a town that appreciated hockey (well, at least Dollar Bill Wirtz didn’t appreciate hockey), I didn’t get to see many games – since they were not broadcast on television until Rockey Wirtz took over the team.  I’m a bit bitter about this, but that’s ok.

It was a good night. I, of course, wore my Martin Brodeur jersey.  And I ran into my friend and was able to hear some good news.

My First Trip to the Bronx(ville)

Ok, so the title is a bit misleading. I didn’t quite make it to the Bronx but I did make it to Bronxville. My churches district headquarters is there and had a conference of workshops. If you know a bit about me, you’ll know that the Bishop and I go back a ways (which is also a bit deceiving, he was my boss for a spell at the sem). He is a true Pastor of Pastors.

Anyway, three of my friends and I took the journey down the Taconic Parkway (which is BEAUTIFUL) and landed “about as close to the southern end of WestChester county as y’all can get).

I met some folks from the city and the island. Which was cool.

Didn’t get photos (kinda hard to since I was with a crowd of people) so I’ll have to make the trek again sometime soon.

Beyond the Museums

As you already have read, I traveled out to Springfield this past weekend. While I love Doctor Seuss (he is from Springfield and was a Lutheran and it was his birthday), I just couldn’t pass the opportunity to visit a brewery I discovered in December.  So after leaving the museums, I embarked on a journey to find the famed and delicious Iron Duke Brewery.  Turns out Ludlow is just across the bridge from Indian Orchard and I am so dumb that I didn’t realize I was just a half mile from the brewery when I last was in Indian Orchard…oh well.

I did not take photos – why, well, I am not really sure.  It was cold, very cold.  And for someone who runs the heat at 65 degrees all day, that means something.  Iron Duke is currently in a dispute with their landlord, a division of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development group.  Apparently, the brewery is “very loud” and a distraction to the former Ludlow Mills complex which is being redeveloped soon into a diverse community.  Well, a community that would love and appreciate and patronize this wonderful establishement (plus it’ll be a ways from the said housing they are developing).  However, the landlords feel that this complex is TOO successful and wants to evict them rather than allow them to expand.  Ludlow is up in arms since they really rallied to bring this in to revitalize this old industrial complex, the owners have invested a TON of dough in building a successful business that has been exactly what they promised, and confused beer fans like me who are thinking what is wrong with you Massachusetts.

You may recall my previous post about Indian Orchard and the Brickhouse (which I went to just after the brewery) and the place is just about the same in terms of customers.  The folks at the bar (who were clearly regulars since they had their own beer mugs) immediately made me feel welcome as did Mike (who I think might be the head brewer) and his Mom.  Wow!  It definitely is a family affair.

I stole this picture of Mike from the https://www.facebook.com/pg/irondukebeer/ since I thought it’d be creepy to take a picture of a random stranger.


And for the record, I did NOT pay with my NJ Devils credit card.

You can visit Iron Duke Brewing at http://www.irondukebrewing.com/

After this I stopped at The Holyoke Mall at Ingleside to “sober up” and got an awfully green St. Patty’s day hat before traveling to my intended destination of Abandoned Building Brewing.  However, they had a HUGE line as a tour bus had just stopped so I slid down the building to the New City Brewery.  They were very nice but their beer just didn’t do it for me.

As I swung back through Massachusetts to my destination of home, I took a quick stop in Deerfield at the Yankee Candle flagship store and drove through some awesome mountains and North Adams where MassMOCA is.  That is on my list, it seems to be a cool place.