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Reviews on PubCrawler from timothy j. o'connor
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December 22, 2014 @ 09:59 AM EDT
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Reviews By
timothy j. o'connor

Beer Reviews

Restaurant Reviews


Beer Reviews from timothy j. o'connor
Average Rating
Beer Quality
Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Great Good Good

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Syracuse, NY

Oops. I forgot the ratings. Sorry!


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Great Awesome! Great Great

Establishment: Clark's Ale House, Syracuse, NY

The best roast beef sandwich I’ve ever had at any price. Oh – the beer (?). I started with the Three Floyd’s IPA (one of the dozen or so taps) and it was a hop rush. Very fresh, and cheap! All of the bars in Syracuse seem to be very reasonable in their pricing (Albany is getting way out of control), and Clark’s is no exception. The bar staff here is astute and accommodating. Your empty glass does not sit on the bar for more than a mille-second before you are courteously prompted for your next desirous libation. Unfortunately for me, it was the end of a long day and I had to limit myself to two, but I finished the evening with a wonderful, fresh, Cask IPA from Middle Ages. Mmmmm! I will be back soon though – the next time making it my first stop. And oh, I did take a RB sandwich home – they are good (and yes – cheap)!


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good So So N/A So So So So

Establishment: Syracuse Suds Factory, Syracuse, NY

Extract beers? If I had known that I would not have stopped. Every beer (style) on the menu is described incorrectly. The Lambic is a “wheat beer?” I don’t care if it’s made with unmalted wheat or not no one describes a Lambic as a “wheat beer.” Anyhow, they make a “Drunken Cow” with the Lambic and a scoop of vanilla ice cream (blasphemy if you ask me). It’s not my cup of tea but the other half liked it.

Read down the menu further and it says, “The only commercially produced beers with hops grown in Central New York.” OK - we just went from “extract brewed beers” to ones featuring “home grown hops.” As in “whole hops?”

The “Pale Ale” is a “robust strong ale”. Sounds more like an IPA to me. “What is it?” I ask the barmaid. “Oh, it’s an IPA.” OK. Along comes the brewer. “It’s a Pale Ale,” he says. “English or American?” I ask. “English.” Hmmm, tastes like an American. We’ll let it slide though as it wasn’t half bad (hop-heads would like it).

The Red Ale had a nice clean nose and a sweet malty flavor. I’d rather that than some of the dry ones that are out there. This is probably the only beer that was described correctly on the menu and tasted accordingly. And it was actually pretty good - long in flavor and a nice aftertaste.

This place has some potential and I’ll try it again at some point. I liked the building as it looked like an old firehouse. For the brewer – hire someone that can write properly and re-do the beer menu. And for the barmaid, Saranac is not “merging” with “Utica Club or something like that.” Saranac and Utica Club are one in the same (brewed under the same roof by the same family of brewers).


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good N/A So So So So

Establishment: Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub and Restaurant, Syracuse, NY

Loud, loud loud, and then some. We circled the bar two or three times weaving in and out of the loudmouths and chairs in the aisles trying to find a seat, with every “empty” seat taken by a pocketbook owned by Beulah Airhorn and the Sisters of the Holy Aisle. We were promptly greeted by a pimply gentleman behind the bar who quickly poured me a very fresh UBU Ale. Significant other wanted a break from the beer and ordered a Zinfandel. I inquired as to whether they had red in addition to white (red is her favorite), and he was quite humored as if to say, “Zinfandel only comes in white dummy.” OK, I’m a dope. I guess I only know beer. We’ll have a lesson in grapes another time.

A band of roving minstrels was annoying people in the corner (as if the place wasn’t loud enough). I have to say that the atmosphere is great here, and with 20 decent taps I would like to have stayed and sampled a few more, but the place was way too loud. I actually got a headache after about 15-minutes. After the 12th slapping high-five between the bartenders, I pictured the place with an aged barman, Juan, Carlos and Charlie banished to playing their bongos and maracas on the grassy knoll behind the Armory, and Beulah and Company taking their Airhorn Sonnet to Joe’s Bar and Grill. What a great place it would be! I do hear the food is good though, which is actually why we came. But how can you eat with all that going on?


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
So So Great N/A Good So So

Establishment: Bayou Cafe, Albany, NY

33 Taps and some pretty decent beers, until you put your lips to the glass that is. This is a Coors Light cell-phone bar, evidenced by all those around me. The rest of the stuff has been laying around growing old, and is barely drinkable. The Smithwick’s was stale, as well as the Harpoon Summer. I left the Red Hook Rye on the bar as it was so bad (I’ve had this fresh and it’s terrific). At $4.25 a pint for these, it’s unacceptable. The beer list is way in the back behind a video game, which shows their priorities. And sit at that end of the bar and you’ll leave smelling like a chicken wing from the grease and smoke wafting out of the kitchen.

This place survives only because it’s on “restaurant row.” It gets busy after the free Alive at Five concerts on Thursday’s and also for Friday Happy Hour, with again, mass quantities of Coors Light being poured. They have an annoyingly loud mélange of Jazz/Blues/Southern rock playing that makes polite conversation impossible. The bar maid’s pull the handle of the tap you point at, but other than that have no clue what the beer is. Order a silly mixed drink and they giggle on cue.

Skip this place and go across the street to the Big House (for now), around the corner to the Pump Station, or grab a cheap cab to the Lionheart. I do hear the food is decent at the Bayou, but that’s not whey we’re here.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good Good Good Good

Establishment: O'Callagh was Original Saratoga Springs Brewery, Saratoga Springs, NY

The OSPB is closing right after Labor Day and will reopen with new owners as just a restaurant. Seating will be added where the brewing equipment currently resides.

This place never knew what it wanted to be. They went through a myriad of brewers. Some came and went, then came a second time. Then the beers were being brewed by the Big House (at which point they had the best beers). Last night I ordered the Blackberry Wheat, and was served the Red Ale. For the second beer the barkeep realized he made a mistake and served me the Blackberry (I think). I had a hard time differentiating between the two. Neither one had much of a nose, and both were oxidized and slightly stale. There was an abundance of some kind of adjunct in each, but it just masked the fact that neither is a good beer. And that was hardly a “wheat.” I tried the Wit last before leaving and it was “OK,” (too much on the orange peel) but I’m spoiled by the Wit at the Pump Station (which is the best you are going to find anywhere).

This place is gone soon, the Big House/Brown’s Brewing (nee troy Brew Pub) thing is a mess or joke (your choice). The Van Dyke isn’t even worth mentioning. So it appears the Brew Pub scene in and around the Capital District is heading for disaster. Thank God we have the Albany Pump Station to rely on. At least they listen to their customers, put out a quality product and last but not least brew decent beer!


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall

Establishment: Big House Brewing Company, Albany, NY

A reply for the last gent. Brown's is going to be doing the beer for the Big House. Other than the equipment leaving, there will be little change other than the first floor being expanded into what was the kettle area. It will make more room for the bands at least.

This marriage between Brown’s (nee Troy Brew Pub) might produce a nice synergy, but it will be a wait and see. As for your upcoming soirée, I would not worry. The management there (probably Steve the manager) will take good care of you. There is no intention of closing by no means. If they (the new conglomerate) plan on eliminating certain beers and/or making them “seasonal's,” I will then have a problem, albeit a small one.

One last note – the brewers and owners of both Brown’s and the Big House are the best. They’ve proven themselves over the long haul. It’s not for us on the other side of the bar to make decisions for them. While me thinks they might listen to their customers just a wee bit once and a while, I will continue to patronize their establishments and I wish them all the best. For the Gentleman in Florida, I hope I’m lucky enough to be there the night of your party – I promise to buy a round!


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
So So So So N/A So So So So

Establishment: Van Dyck, Schenectady, NY

Another bailout to the tune of $375,000 by Metroplex and nothing to show for it. The brewing equipment is still sitting idle out back wasting away, although two other local brewers were looking at it a few weeks back. Gee. Maybe it will be moved to Hoosick Falls (!).

The servers had no clue where the beer came from (It used to be from the Big House). One entire set of taps is contaminated from varnish that was used during remodeling. The IPA out of that tap was oxidized and barely made the Pale category with no hops present at all. Out of the "good" tap it wasn't too bad with a high-hop nose as was as a highly hopped palate. I can't believe it was the same beer, but I had been warned about the taps. The Amber out of the "good tap" was overly malty, stale, and also oxidized.

This is a beautiful building with potential, but I don't see this place going anywhere soon (except out of business). And I took a good look around the neighborhood when I left. Oh boy. If you don't get a parking spot right out front or in the lot on Erie, keep going.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
So So So So N/A Good So So

Establishment: Pinhead Susan's, Schenectady, NY

Don't go out of your way for this place unless your purpose is in the appreciation of the resurrection of old buildings into new. Originally built in 1852 and having served as a hotel up until the 60's, then as a printing plant in later years, they did a very nice job transforming a dump (the pictures are in the entranceway) into a very nice and cozy venue.

OK, the beer. 11 Taps with an unfortunate lineup of Coors, Sam Adams (yawn), Killian's (ditto), Bud, Michelob Light (add adjectives here), with a couple of drinkable’s in Bass, New Castle, Paulaner and Sierra Nevada. I think I did spot a Guinness tap way down the end. They have their own “Pinhead Susan’s Ale” on, which wasn’t a bad rendition of a decent Pale Ale, properly hopped and very fresh. I asked the bar lady who made it, and she wasn’t sure but mentioned something about Kobor’s. OK. They’ve been around a while. Went bankrupt a half dozen times or so, and now being made (maybe) by contract somewhere.

On their menu, which looks pretty decent, they claim to be an "Irish Bar." That explains the lack of Smithwick's on tap then, which luckily I found at O'Leary's across the river in Scotia. I would not hesitate to come back here and eat, as the menu is extensive and the ambiance is quite nice. But for the beer. Nah.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Good Awesome! Great

Establishment: Big House Brewing Company, Albany, NY

The Big House is no longer brewing their own beer. The equipment is being dismantled this week and is being moved to Hoosick Falls to be merged with equipment from Brown's Brewing Company.

Your going to need a score card for this, but the Tap Room at Brown's (nee Troy Brew Pub) is going to be managed by the folks from the Big House. The Beer you will soon be drinking at the Big House is going to be brewed by Brown's.

This ought to be good . . .


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Awesome! N/A Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Olde Saratoga Brewing Company , Saratoga Springs, NY

A great place to hang out and meet new friends, with great beer to boot!

Interestingly enough, Olde Saratoga/Kingfisher (nee Mendocino) was just listed as the number four Microbrewery in number of barrels produced in the US in Zymurgy magazine. I’m not terribly surprised as they have nothing but quality products to offer that are finding their way into more and more outlets and pubs throughout the northeast and beyond.

Visit Olde Saratoga and you’ll find yourself at a small 8-stool bar or one of the four high-top tables in a nicely-appointed tasting room. True Publican Dan Jewett will be most attentive to your every desire. He always has a story, new or old (ask him about the weed-whacker)!

They always have the old stand-by’s on the 20 taps – Red Tail Ale, Olde Saratoga Lager, Eye of the Hawk, to name a few, but they just introduced “Black-Eye,” which is a blend of Black Hawk Stout and Eye of the Hawk. The concoction has a nice dry finish, and is a nice balance between the roasted malt flavor of the stout and the full-bodied amber flavor of the Hawk. While it doesn’t fit the description, it’s still a nice “session beer.” Me thinks I had one more than I should have the last trip (shhh)!

Tasting is free, but you’re kinda expected to buy at least a glass. Hey – they gotta keep the lights on! But they always have cases of all of their brews available for takeout, at discount prices. And at any given time – you might luck into a case at $10 just to reduce inventory!

This place is going no where but up. I just hope I can still get a bar-stool the next time I stop!


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good N/A So So So So

Establishment: Coopers Cave Ale Company Limited, Glens Falls, NY

The Bumppo’s Brown is fairly decent (the best is 50-miles south in Albany) and the Radeau Red is quite good. But the Tavern Ale is the worst concoction of I-don’t-know-what I’ve ever had. The whole crew of us at Tap NY ended up pouring it out. My only thought is it would make a good mosquito repellent.

I will never be back to CCAC as I made the mistake of bringing in a “foreign” growler to get filled with the Red. I thought that would be a compliment for someone to drive an hour to procure one of their fine-crafted brews, but was instead treated to a combination of Linda Blair’s head spinning around (ala the Exorcist) and Zoltar’s flashing red eyes (the movie BIG) along with a dissertation of non-existent laws as to why they can’t fill it. I’ve thoroughly researched the laws and your wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

With that said, we have plenty of brew pubs in and around the Capital District that are more than happy to hear their cash-register’s ring filling “foreign” growlers. Off to the Pump Station


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Great Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Man of Kent Tavern, Hoosick Falls, NY

John is staying, John is staying! After a year or two of contemplating selling, John has decided to stay put! The good Lord must listened to all our prayers.

I can’t do any justice to the other reviews except to say the Man of Kent is all that is said and then some. There is no better host ANYWHERE than you will find at the MOK. John is a tremendous, wonderfully-warm Publican who can hold you in conversation for hours without your interest waning. And when John speaks, the bar listens.

Oh, the beer. That’s what we’re her for, eh? John has 18 taps – all top shelf. There is no “Light” or “Lite” beer to be found. And now that Smithwick’s is on, I’m moving my cot in. There’s everything from Coniston’s Blue Bird Bitter to Tetley’s to Boddingtons to the freshest Old Speckled Hen anywhere. And there’s always a tap reserved for Brown’s Brewing Co. (nee Troy Brew Pub). There are also hundreds of bottled beers if you’d like something odder.

If you live anywhere east of the California coast (ah, don’t we all?), the Man of Kent is a must-stop. Eat outside with the pig (Lucy), as well as the ducks and geese. There are bird watching books at the end of the bar to help identify the numerous and rare birds that perch on the myriad of feeders outside. And don’t forget to pet the three-legged cat!

One minor caveat is John says he’s backing off on the full dinners and instead will offer a limited menu only after 3:00. Full lunches will still be served though.

Thanks for staying John and giving us a reason to stay in this miserable state! Keep up the good work (as always)!


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Lousy Good N/A So So So So

Establishment: Madison Brewing Company, Bennington, VT

It hasn’t gotten any better. The last time I must have blinked when I ordered the Stark House Raspberry. It’s an extract poured into the Buck’s Honey Wheat! It has that same burnt-stale flavor as always. And it was hardly a wheat, unless they filter it 300-times.

The woman behind the bar had no clue about any of the beers. She was kind enough to sic the brewer on me when he came in. Let me try to be kind. I know a lot of brewers. If I ask a question about the beer or the process I’m not trying to be a wise-ass, I’m trying to learn. Instead I was treated with contempt in response to every question I asked. Catching two or three WRONG answers to basic brewing questions, he laughed them off and told me in these exact words, “If you want beer done right go to McNeill’s.” OK. Will do! Or C. H. Evans. Or Brown’s Brewing Co. Or Maple Leaf. Good grief!

At least the stop at the Man of Kent made up for this place . . .


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great So So N/A Awesome! Great

Establishment: Maple Leaf Malt and Brewing, Wilmington, VT

As luck would have it they were still open pending approval of their permits for the renovations. Young Abby was right on top of things behind the bar and was very pleasant to talk to. She was more than happy to tell us of the changes in store for the place, which are mentioned in previous reviews.

I hate to rate the beer selection as “so so” but they are keeping stock levels low purposely not knowing when construction will begin. I can relate to that. They had two of their own on tap Sunday and two guests. Their Hopadelic Pale Ale was an American one and properly hopped to a higher level than would be for an English Pale. Having far to drive I had to limit my self to two, so I tried the ESB Banshee as much as I would have liked another pale as it was that good. The ESB came across with a nice malt flavor but not overdone, and light on hops. I guessed it lower but the ABV was close to 5%. It is a nice session beer though. The guest beers were Otter Creek Lager and Magic Hat #9. The Otter Creek should be proud to be a guest, but that Magic Hat I wouldn’t wash my car with and it amazes me as to how many places serve it.

I was lucky to meet Darren the brewer who arrived before I left. He was extremely knowledgeable and great to chat with, and I look forward to sampling his other beers once they expand. I was told he came on board shortly after my last visit in October 2003. This place is a drive for me but worth the trip. Abby suggests anyone intending to visit should call first as they may shut down any day. 802-464-2590.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
So So So So N/A So So So So

Establishment: Holmes and Watson Limited, Troy, NY

Face lift? Changed what?? I lived in this place when I worked around the corner 20+ years ago. I've seen every owner come and go, and nothing's changed. Same old, same old (emphasis on OLD).

There's 24 taps and five were outright empty with another one or two capped with a plastic cup. I waited five minutes for the bartender to show up (I was already warned about this), and tried their Holmes and Watson Red Ale (made by Davidson’s). It was apparently left over from the previous owners and was stale. I then flipped a coin between the Kronebourg 1664 and the Dos XX. Not recalling seeing it on tap much I opted for the latter. It was a good choice as it was very fresh, especially for a lager.

They had a sign that Newcastle and Lowenbrau bottles were $2.00. Not bad, but please give me a draft happy-hour. There were eight people in the bar area and all were drinking Bud bottles. The bartender was doing everything but bartending. If your short on staff, fine. But you’ll soon be short on customers. I want a full-time bartender. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall

Establishment: The Brew Pub was Ramapo Valley Brewery, Suffern, NY

It would be nice if someone answered the phone on a Saturday afternoon and/or had a recording saying what time they were open. They can't be bothered telling you on their web site either. But looking at the bands and the times they play, I see what crowd they must want to attract. I was pining for one of John Calen's fresh-made ales yesterday and forgot to bring the map. Oh well.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good So So Good So So So So

Establishment: Davidson Brothers Restaurant and Brewery, Glens Falls, NY

The worst Web Site on the planet, but that's another story.

I stopped for their Scotch Ale last Tuesday afternoon, which is a world-class example of the style. With the high ABV, two's the limit. This brew has won a number of awards and is most deserving. I first tried the IPA and the Red Ale, and they were “OK.” This trip though was the same as the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that. The barmaid did everything on the planet but wait on us. If I was at the bar 60-minutes, she was on the phone for 55. And the other five she was up on a ladder farting around with the crap that’s stowed over the bar. Hello? Hello? Can I get a beer here? Please? “Oh, do you want something . . . ?”

And as always, the brewers were coming and going out of the brew house. I tried on several occasions to get their eye, without sticking my feet out in the aisle to trip them up. They walk by like your invisible. Would it kill a brewer – any brewer to stop for one second and say hello, ask how the beer is, introduce themselves, and/or otherwise recognize me as a customer? A good chef will come out of the kitchen once in a while and do just that. Why can’t a lot of these brewers? I don’t bite!

I’ll be back again for the Scotch Ale, as always. I’ll just bring one of those signal flares like they used on the Titanic to wave down the barmaid when I want a beer. Sheesh!


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Malt River Brewing Company, Latham, NY

I have had both good experiences and bad experiences at Malt River, but the last few times were good and have progressively gotten better. I had previously told Goose the brewer that the best Raspberry Wheat I ever had was at Hilton Head Brewing Co. in South Carolina. Goose must have tweaked his recipe because his Razzmatazz is now the best anywhere. For those that only drink lagers brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot, my apologies. I like my wheat’s, and throw in a berry or two and I'm a happy camper.

Significant other had the Malt River Red Ale and enjoyed it. I found it to be just a little too malty, but I’d rather that than the overly-dry ones that are out there. She ordered the Texas Red Chili which was obviously home made (not out of a can), and was loaded with fresh beef and wonderfully spiced. I had the garlic-onion-parmesan chicken wings which were a refreshing change from the usual mild/medium/hot standards elsewhere. OK, it’s bar food. Pub food. But it’s good, and we got plenty of it. These were large portions very reasonably priced

Bartender Amy does a great job behind the bar. She is not going to fawn over you, but your glass is always full, the food comes out quickly, and she’s happy to wrap it to go (some places this is a big effort). I’m not a fan of the mall setting, but I’ll be back for a firkin some Friday soon. That and I have to try some of the other of the eight beers that were on tap – a nice selection indeed.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! N/A Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Horseshoe Pub, Hudson, MA

Stopped in before the Sox game and had two quick ones. The place looked like a disaster area from the outside, but I'm glad we took the time to peek inside. They are still under construction, but owner Al went out of his way to drop what he was going and show us around. Thanks Al!

We then settled into the make-shift bar area and was treated to some down-home New England hospitality by barkeep Bill. 76-beers on tap and only one or two everyday's to keep the ladies happy. We ended up joining the Beer Safari, and I will start to rack 'em up soon. This is the first beer bar I've been to where I'm actually going back on "vacation"! They have a couple of chain motels down the street so you don't have to drive after imbibing. And of special note - all of the beers are poured in Imperial Pints. Two Thumbs Up Guys!


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