Finger Lakes Brewery Tour

Posted on 26 April 2009

Colleen and I took a “craft brewery” tour of the Finger Lakes on Saturday (April 25, 2009) and had a LOT of fun. It was a gorgeous day for a drive and, thankfully, you don’t get the same kind of crowds at breweries as you do on winery tours (well, except if the brewery is part of a winery…see below). Our greatest surprise was Horseheads Brewing – their spicy beer (made with Anaheim and Jalapeño peppers!) was amazing. We left the house with 2 (empty) growlers and returned home with 4 full ones.

War Horse Brewing Company (Geneva, NY)
nothing to write home about. War Horse Brewing Company is part of a winery which is divided up into 4 parts: 3 wineries and 1 brewery. The beer caters to the unsophisticated palette and the multiple bus-loads and limo-loads of girls (and bride-to-be parties) seemed to be enjoying themselves. The best beer was their IPA but, even then, that wasn’t out-standing.

Update: From their Wikipedia page, it appears that War Horse may not even brew their own beer.

Ithaca Beer Company (Ithaca, NY)
CascaZilla, baby! The brewery is located in an old storefront just outside of Ithaca, near Buttermilk Falls State Park. There were a few other people in the brewery when we got there but, for the most part, we were able to taste the beers and converse freely with the staff. Left Ithaca with a growler full of Cascazilla, Flower Power IPA, and the directions to Horsehead Brewing (which we’d never heard of).

Horseheads Brewing, Inc. (Horseheads, NY)
terrible Web site, GREAT beer! Only a couple years old but great selection of brews! When we arrived, we were the only non-staff in the place…and that brought the total people in there up to 4. They had about 8 different beers on tap and let you taste them all (unlike a few of the others). Their Rye Pale Ale and Lackawanna Steam Lager were good, the Maple Amber Ale was interesting, Colleen enjoyed their Chocolate Porter, and (as I said) their Hot-Jala-Heim (spicy) beer was amazing. Left with a growler of the Lackawanna Steam Lager and Hot-Jala-Heim.

Market Street Brewing Company (Corning, NY)
actually a brew pub and we really stopped here to eat. I’d tried their other beers before (and wasn’t overly impressed) but I do like their IPA. They call it “seasonal” but, the last time we’d been to Corning (at least a year ago), the IPA was on tap. The best part was the food: I had a pulled-pork sandwich made with their Mad Bug Lager and topped with julienned jalapeño peppers and cilantro. Very yummy.

Crooked Rooster and Wildflower Café (Watkins Glen, NY)
another brew pub/restaurant combo located right in the heart of Watkins Glen. There were quite a few other couples who’d come to Watkins Glen specifically to try Roosterfish (one couple drove in from Buffalo, about 90 minutes away). I wasn’t quite as wowed by these beers as I’d hoped based on the hype. Their Rye Pale Ale was good but the other beers seemed to err on the side of being sweeter. If you enjoy strongly-hopped (Imperial) IPAs then definitely give their Hop Warrior a try but, all-in-all, their beers reminded me of a typical Seneca Lake wine: a bit too sweet and fruity for my taste.


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