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User Tagline: Somewhere in the world it's beer o'clock; who's buying?
Favorite Beer: Right now...Stegmaier Summer Stock
Located In: Mid-Atlantic
My Website: www.lewbryson.com
467
Beer Reviews from
   

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Average Rating
Beer Quality
Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great
Great Great Great Great

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

Establishment: Yankee Brewing Company was Old World Brewing Co, Staten Island, NY

Old World has changed its name to Yankee Brewing Company (They're selling their New York Harbor beers at the Staten Island Yankees ballpark), and has a new brewer on the kettle, Dan Carter, who just started about 10 days ago. Dan comes from Greenshields, in Durham, NC, and has a wide range of brewing experience. He's good, and he's not easily satisfied: both great news for beer lovers. I expect New York Harbor beers will get even better. They're getting a new bottling line soon, so bottles should be on the shelves by September.

(06/23/2002)

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

Establishment: Cooperstown Brewing Company, Milford, NY

Cooperstown Brewing is in an old dairy station outside Milford, NY. (They meant to open IN Cooperstown, and had a property, but the town nixed it: "No one makes anything in Cooperstown but baseball cards." Their loss!) They are a Pugsley/Peter Austin brewery using the Ringwood yeast; i.e., they bought the system from Pugsley and use his proprietary yeast, but it is an independent business. This is a really cool, very laid-back tour with substantial tasting at the end. These are classic Yorkshire-style ales with American touches: a light ale (9 Man), a hop-boosted IPA (Backyard, and it's Brit hops, so American geeks raised on tons of Cascades may not recognize them), and a strong ale (Pride of Milford, my favorite). Some people just hate Ringwood beers; well, okay, some people hate weissbier. Some of us love them. They're not flawed, anymore than lambics are. They're different. And this place does a great job with them. One of my favorite New York breweries.

(06/17/2002)

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

Establishment: Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA

That may be the only across-the-board Awesome rating I've given, not sure. But what are you going to say about this place? It's internationally famous, yet no one here has a swelled head about it. The food ranges from good to amazing. The owners are fanatical about finding and procuring new, excellent Belgian, German, and British beers. I was just at another Monk's beer debut last night: draft Chimay White, the first time in America. Yes, it gets crowded. Yes, when you've set aside time to go and you find there's an event or there's no room, that's a pain. Yes, it's expensive (that Chimay White's going for $7 a goblet; the owner told me how much he's paying for the keg and wow, $7 is very fair), although as Don Feinberg at Ommegang says, "How much will you pay for a real beer experience?" BUT! This is an extremely beer-savvy staff, an unbelievably beer-devoted ownership, a beer-aware chef and kitchen staff, and a characterful little place. It could be different, but I don't really know how it could be better. Come. Eat. Drink. Worry about the calories and the bill tomorrow.

(06/12/2002)

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

Establishment: Sterling Place Tavern, Buffalo, NY

"It's all about the beer." Lots of places say this, but few mean it like the Sterling Place. Twelve taps, and ten items on the menu, a relatively small offering. But The owners, John and Judy, make the place friendly, they know their customers and are very friendly to new ones, and they are passionate about their beer. It's always a good sign when you spot an Anchor neon in a bar; Fritz doesn't dole them out to just anyone. Sterling has the only Anchor Porter neon I've seen on the east coast. Dedicated. I stopped short on an Awesome overall rating only because while the personal atmosphere is excellent, the Sterling isn't much to look at. I'd like different lighting, maybe a bit of character. They're doing this on a shoestring, so maybe that will come. Regardless, this will be a regular stop when I go to Buffalo.

(06/12/2002)

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

Establishment: Mugs Ale House, Brooklyn, NY

One of the 20 best beer bars I've been in, anywhere. It doesn't hurt that Mugs is literally around the corner from Brooklyn Brewing and had six of their excellent beers on draft when I visited, including the exceptional Star of Manchester, a one-off porter that I intend to petition the brewery to make again (and again and again!). Mugs has a great jukebox, an out of the ordinary beer selection, very reasonable prices, and a cross-sectional clientele. It felt very "bar-like" in that indefinably comfortable way. I'd go back again tomorrow.

(06/07/2002)

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

Establishment: Gate, Brooklyn, NY

No idea what that first review is on about. I had a very pleasant little session at The Gate. Turned out the bartender and I knew someone in common, even though I live in Philly! Service was good even before that, and the beer selection was good, and the two beers I had were very fresh. Great place to hang out in the afternoon.

(06/07/2002)

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

Establishment: Middle Ages Brewing Company, Syracuse, NY

Well, yeah, I LIKED this place. As has been noted, Marc and Tim are great guys who know what they're doing and are brewing for all the right reasons. I dropped by earlier this month and had a nice "tap-dance" session with them, trying a little bit of everything. I particularly liked the Duke of Winship Porter, which I'd never had before. And YES, this is a Ringwood brewery, and they're damned proud of it. It's a great yeast, and you can make excellent beers with it: here they are! Marc was bummed he didn't have anything on cask, so he called over to the Blue Tusk and set me up with a complementary pint of cask IPA. Thanks, Marc, and it was delicious.

(05/27/2002)

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

Establishment: Black Forest Brew Haus, Farmingdale, NY

I stopped by the Black Forest last week while on a research trip through Long Island. I was very pleased with the care taken on brewing these lager beers: a full 8 weeks lagering time on each beer. Tried the pils, export, maibock, Baltic porter, and Amber/festbier. All were quite good, with the striking exception of the Baltic porter, which had a strong celery-homebrew taste to it. The brewer had told me it was near the end of the tank, but yeesh. The other beers were excellent, though, and I'd give it an Awesome if it weren't for the porter. I took a growler of the export along to my wife's family picnic, along with growlers from Middle Ages, Southampton, and Blue Point, and we all agreed that we would have liked to have about four more growlers of the Black Forest Export. Each.

(05/27/2002)

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

Establishment: The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh , PA

I dunno, Cleveland Dave. I've never had a bad beer AT the Church, never had a bad beer FROM the Church when I've seen them at beer festivals (Stoudt's, Penn, and Harrisburg). I've had Church beers that were just okay, but never bad. I'm not saying I'm better at this than other people, but I do make my living reviewing beer and writing about breweries, so I'm not a complete amateur. The judges at the GABF are all either pro brewers, similarly experienced writers, or very experienced homebrew judges. However, tastes do vary. I'm will say that I'm NOT nuts about the service at the Church; it's been average at best and sometimes glacial. But the food I've had there has been good, and I have always found the beer to be at least good and often outstanding. Like I said: I dunno. Exactly what is it about Church beers you DON'T like?

(05/27/2002)

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

Establishment: Blue Tusk, Syracuse, NY

The Blue Tusk belongs in the top 20 beer bars in the U.S., without question. Clean, open, friendly, with an excellent tap selection that's well-kept, and cask ale to boot. My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that I would have liked to see more NY beers. I was kind of annoyed by the number of Three Floyds beers I saw here (and everywhere, actually). Not that I don't like 3 Floyds, I do: but there are plenty of great breweries much closer to home. BUT, like I said, small complaint. This is a great bar, and a must-visit in upstate. Worth a side-trip from Albany or Buffalo. Really.

(05/18/2002)

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

Establishment: Clark's Ale House, Syracuse, NY

I've wanted to visit Clark's for almost 10 years now, since first hearing about the place at a Stoudt's Festival. I have lived: I been there. I WANNA GO BACK. An interesting array of beers, well-kept and well-served, and the roast beef sandwich rules. Only downer was one rude jackass of a customer, but that's hardly Clark's fault, is it? Service was excellent, very knowledgeable and cordial.

(05/18/2002)

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

Establishment: Awful Al's Smoke and Whiskey Bar, Syracuse, NY

Past reviewers hit it on the head: there is a small but excellent concentration of booze joints around Armoury Square, and Awful Al's is a top-notch part of it. With a HUGE spirits selection and lots of comfy chairs, you don't have to go there just for the 20+ taps of good beer. I shrugged off a cold and rainy day with a heavy shot of Eagle Rare 17 year old bourbon, while my bro-in-law held up the carbonated side with a pint of Prima Pils. Very relaxing place.

(05/18/2002)

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

Establishment: Ludwig's Garten, Philadelphia, PA

Rick, if you don't LIKE German food, that's your problem. I DO like it, and Ludwig's is very good. Besides, heck, how can you NOT like German desserts? I stopped in with my daughter yesterday after the ballet (we saw a matinee of Tchaikovsky's "The Sleeping Beauty" that was gorgeous) and had Black Forest cake and Linzer torte that were outstanding. And Ludwig's has added a second bar in the dining room... hmmm, maybe there is something about the food. I could be wrong, Rick. But I still like the eats at Ludwig's!

(05/06/2002)

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

Establishment: Pittsburgh Brewing Company, Pittsburgh , PA

R.W.C.: A response seems to be needed. First, I am an outsider too, from eastern PA; born there, grew up there, live there now. Like you, I went to CMU (History MA, 1984); unlike you, I never found Pittsburgh to be hostile to outsiders. The people I met from Pittsburgh were proud of what they had and never too busy to talk to me about the town. Second, I rate Iron City as "good" in comparison to other mainstream American beers (as I said in my review), and I stick by that. It's as good as any other mainstream American beer. Third, Pittsburgh isn't just stagnant, it's shrinking, though you need to go back further than 25 years to see that. Pittsburgh's lost 1/3 of its population since 1960. The decline of Big Steel is most of that, despite what some Pittsburghers have told me. Finally, I agree with you that the city desperately needs outside investment. But don't attribute my "Who Needs You?" to the city. I only said that in reference to the ridiculous statements I've heard about Iron City outside Pittsburgh. Iron City has always been a Pittsburgh beer, and the city has always supported it, just like Yuengling in Schuylkill County. The brewery will live or die on the support of Pittsburgh. That's true too, and why not? What's wrong with a local brewery? But the city is not going to save itself by buying from outside and killing local industry it DOES have. If you want to discuss this further, my e-mail is attached.

(05/06/2002)

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

Establishment: Red Lion Brewing Company, Watertown, NY

Dropped in again (now there's a stupid idea: how do you "drop in" on a place in Watertown when you live in Philadelphia? I was up to check bars in Sackets Harbor and Watertown and decided to have lunch at Red Lion) last week for a bite to eat. I got a couple half-pints of the Velvet Elvis Stout (real good chewy stout) and a Red Lion Special sandwich; a tribute to Primanti Brothers' "almost famous" sandwiches in Pittsburgh, with the coleslaw and french fries right in the sandwich. It was good, though there was an odd accent of dill in the coleslaw that I didn't care for. The roast turkey and cheese were real good, though, as was the sourdough bread. Service was quick, friendly, and accurate. Couldn't ask for much more for a bar lunch! Easily the best place for a beer in Watertown.

(05/02/2002)

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

Establishment: Bootleggers, Plattsburgh, NY

I've no idea why Bootleggers isn't in Pubcrawler: it's been open for better than four years. This is a fun place, too, with lots of Prohibition-era decoration (including a working period phone booth) and a huge arcade downstairs. The beers are clean and tasty, if not adventurous; I particularly liked the Cardinal Red, a malty, medium-bodied Irish red ale, and the Stout, which is an Irish dry with a bit more heft to it than Guinness. Nothing wrong there, and the food I had (lasagna) was hot, good, and came out quickly. Service at the bar was friendly and attentive. This is a fun place.

(05/02/2002)

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

Establishment: Great Adirondack Brewing Company, Lake Placid, NY

Just wanted to congratulate Rob and his staff for winning the Matthew Vassar Cup over the weekend at the TAP New York Fest in Hunter Mountain (great fest, BTW, worth a trip next year). The Vassar Cup is for the best brewery in the Hudson Valley as judged at the Fest. I also just happened to overhear that Rob & co. just missed winning both the Vassar Cup AND the F.X. Matt Cup for best brewer in New York State by only one point in the judging. Awesome, guys! (Kudos also go to the John Harvard's on Long Island, which DID win the Matt Cup: who said chain brewpubs were boring? Way to go!)

(04/29/2002)

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

Establishment: Weyerbacher Brewing Company, Easton, PA

The new Weyerbacher brewery is MUCH more ... uh... "brewery looking." Gone are the wooden floors and cramped spaces, now it's all wide-open wall-less and concrete. And I must say that the beer tastes better for it. I was prepared for a temporary drop in quality, which MANY breweries suffer when they move, but Weyerbacher beers are better out of the starting blocks. I'm looking forward to fresh Hops Infusion this summer.

(04/22/2002)

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

Establishment: Old Lehigh Brewing Company, Allentown, PA

Old Lehigh is closed. A shame, I really liked the idea of a brewery run part-time by a bunch of plumbers, and they made some excellent beer.

(04/22/2002)

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

Establishment: Porterhouse Restaurant and Brew Pub , Lahaska, PA

Stopped in the newly re-opened Porter House (was Buckingham Mountain) Saturday the 20th with my wife and son. We split two apps -- smoked trout (w/horseradish cream, minced hard-boiled egg and onion, capers: should have had some toast or crackers with all those good accompaniments) and a crock of chili (GOOD chili, not too spicy, and my son, a chili-lover, tore into it). I got the sampler of five beers (NOT all they had, there were about eight, I think, including a nitro stout I didn't see until we were leaving). Beer's being produced by River Horse, which is about four miles away. They brew the house porter, which was okay, on-premises, the rest of the beers are trucked over from Lambertville. I was a bit concerned to see that the serving tanks behind the bar have been removed, and the brewery looked amazingly clean (except for the cobwebs my wife spotted on one valve), and there were no hoses hooked up to the unitanks. The River Horse beers, sorry to say, suffer from what has been, in my opinion, River Horse's trademark timidity. The only one with a lot of flavor was the seasonal Dark Ale; the Hop Hazard was somewhat hoppy, but scarcely a hazard. The RH Triple I had in February was a shockingly promising example of what River Horse CAN do... and I hope more is forthcoming. Meanwhile, service at Porter House is okay, but not outstanding, food was good and the presentation was nice. I'll be heading back, for sure, though, with this place only 20 minutes from my house, and MUCH improved from Buckingham Mountain days; at least the beers were all clean.

(04/22/2002)

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

Establishment: Brown's Brewing Company was Troy Pub and Brewery, Troy, NY

I visited Troy Pub & Brewery just last week, but I've been here with my wife a few times before; we always had a good time. This time it was work: an interview and tasting. The beers were overall quite good, though there were exceptions. The Oatmeal Stout and Uncle Sam Amber were stand-outs, as was the seasonal Smoked Bock (which almost every beer geek in the Capital District seemed to know about and urged me to get to Troy and taste). The Hefe was delicious, as was the tasty, ballsier-than-Newcastle Sid's Brown Ale. My main complaint was that a couple of the beers were a bit old: the barleywine was a little oxidized (though it grew on me: I really don't mind an aged barleywine), the pale ale had a flat bitterness to it. The place itself is fantastic, a solid old building with lots of excellent mural art done by local artist Kevin Clark. Check the big mural outside, and the kiss-blown mountains above the brewery window in the bar. I sure would like to see less partisan bickering among brewpub customers in the Capital District, though: maybe you guys could all sit down for a beer together once a month at a different pub?

(04/15/2002)

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

Establishment: C.H. Evans Brewing - The Albany Pump Station, Albany, NY

Wow, there sure seems to be a partisan character to some of these reviews! That's good and bad, I guess: good because it shows passion, bad because it's a bit misplaced. The brewpubs in the Capital District all offer something to different people. Here at the Pump Station, people get some great beer along with a truly breath-taking setting. I regret that the evidently fabulous Hefe wasn't on when I visited; maybe some other time, because between the good beer and the very easy access off I-787 I'll definitely be back. The Kick-Ass Brown deserves the GABF Gold it won in 2000. This is a dark IPA, with a long intense hop finish supported by solid malt and chocolate notes. The Dawn's Dry Stout was quite good, with a distinct coffee/roast malt aroma and flavor. The Pale Ale (which evidently sells like mad) seemed a little off the day I was in, with plenty of hop aroma and flavor, but with a slight cheesey/Band-Aid edge to it. Probably an effect of a particular batch of hops. I also tasted a very interesting tripel that had been keg-conditioned with hefe yeast, according to the bartender. It had an aroma like a slightly tart circus peanut candy, and an explosive fruit and spice flavor, sweet and sharpish, quite unlike anything else I'd ever had, a very stimulating beer. Like to go back and try some more at this place!

(04/15/2002)

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

Establishment: Big House Brewing Company, Albany, NY

First, I visited Big House just as it opened for the day. I understand it's often crowded, but I experienced none of that. Second, we did have a problem with our glassware: they evidently weren't rinsed too well, and that screwed up the aroma of the beer quite a bit. When we got fresh glasses, the beers did much better! I really liked the Irish Red, which smelled and tasted like the best Bass Ale I've ever had. Plenty of hop flavor in the Bonnie & Clyde IPA, and a very nice graham-roast malt finish on the Porter. Brewer Drew Schmidt also dug out a sample of porter he's been aging in a Jack Daniel barrel that was quite thick, rich, and delicious, with a huge vanilla nose. Real good Stout with real ale character that walked the line twixt Irish Dry and American export-type. Finally, the barleywine was huge, with tons of head and a lot of hop flavor and not much bitterness, thanks to use of lots of low-alpha hops.

(04/15/2002)

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

Establishment: Big House Grill, Albany, NY

I had Big House (or Big House brewer-brewed) beers four places last week, and of the four this was the least impressive. Not sure why; I was told it turns over quickly here. But the Amber was bland, as was the pale ale. Porter and Light were both good, though, which saved things somewhat. Unfortunately the food was disappointing. The "roast turkey dinner" my dad and uncle both got was turkey loaf, inexplicably served on top of slices of white bread. My meatloaf was delicious, but the side dishes -- filling, corn -- were not, the corn was chewy and tasteless, the filling without body. My chili tasted like Hormel with some tinkering. Sorry to be so bitchy, but all three of us were disappointed with the food, the only bad meal we had in four days on the road in eastern NY. The beers are mostly brought over from the Pearl St. location, though there is some brewing done on the in-house system. Beers tasted at Pearl St. were much better.

(04/15/2002)

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

Establishment: Mahar's, Albany, NY

Just my luck: I finally get to the much-acclaimed Mahar's...and they've got a bunch of PA beers on tap! Great for the locals, to be sure, but these are the beers I see every week! However, the beers were fresh, served well, not overly expensive. I also have to love a place where there is no music playing and the roar of conversation is almost deafening. I do get the "Beer Nazi" comment, and come close to agreeing, but it's all about passion, and that's great. A must-stop in the area.

(04/15/2002)


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