Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bed & Brews at the Inn at Cooperstown - Friday night

My wife and I recently traveled up to Cooperstown, NY to participate in the Bed & Brews weekend at The Inn at Cooperstown.  Besides the two awesome nights which I'll describe in detail later, you also get as part of the package:
  • One rare commemorative Ommegang Abbey Ale jeroboam (3L bottle), signed by the Brew master - Limit 1 per reservation
  • One Ommegang Abbey Ale Chalis per person
  • One Brewery Ommegang sweatshirt or two t-shirts
The jeroboam is a giant 3L bottle of Abbey and the glasses are very nice chalices with an Ommegang logo and a nice gold rim.  On top of that, Friday night is a tasting where all the guests at the Inn share their favorite beers (or homebrew or whatever).  Saturday night is a private tour of Ommegang by one of their brewers plus a very delicious dinner with beer pairings at their new Cafe.  All in all an excellent package.  Check out some pictures on their website under the "Packages" tab.

Without knowing anything other than that Friday night was for sharing bottles, I didn't know what type of beer drinker to expect or how much to bring.  I decided I'd get stuff I wanted to try plus a couple of things I figured people would enjoy.  I went to the Foodery and picked up: Voodoo Black Magick, Bell's Expedition, Bell's Cherry Stout, Bell's Third Coast Old Ale, Weyerbacher Heresy and Central Waters Mudpuppy porter.  However, since I'm ridiculous I decided that wasn't enough.  I also brought a 22oz bottle of Troegs Flying Mouflan and decided we should stop at Fegley's Allentown Brew Works since it was nearly on the way and get a growler of something fun.
So, at about 11, we left and were on our way to Allentown.  We got there a little after 12 and sat down at the bar.  First, let me say it's a really big place.  Tons of tables, really big bar, lots of high tops.  The bar had a lighted top running the length of it which was a really neat effect.  You can see it in the the picture coming up.  Since we didn't know what we were going to get in the growler, I got samples of their Pawn Shop Porter, Hop'Solutely, and Bourbon Barrel Insidious.  Honestly, the latter two were just so I could try them as I knew we wouldn't fill a growler with them but whatever.
See, neat looking bar.  Made for easy pictures of the samples too.  The Hop'Solutely smelled like orange juice (Jo thought it smelled like tangerines) and tasted similar.   The bitterness was very mild considering and the alcohol was really well hidden.  Very decent on draft and much better than the bottle of it I had a while back.  Even the color was different.  The Bourbon Insidious was really good too.  Nose was bourbony but the stout flavors held up well and it ended with a tasty sweetness.  I realize now I should have just gotten a full glass instead of a sample as it means I need to go buy a bottle somewhere but oh well.  The sacrifices I make.  The Pawn Shop Porter (empty and in the background) was very good as well with lots of clean roast and some chocolate.  We both liked it so decided to fill our growler with that.

After leaving Brew Works and a 4 hour drive later, we arrived at the Inn at Cooperstown.  Very easy trip but definitely long.  Not as long a trip as the couple we met from Chicago (14 hours) but well it's not a competition (mostly because we'd lose) and 5 and a half hours is plenty for me.  We checked into the Inn, had our beer put into the refrigerator for later, got our room and relaxed for a little while until dinner.  While there were a decent number of places to choose, we decided to go to the Pit since we had coupons for free drinks and figured why not.  A short walk later we were there.  Busy but we lucked into a table.  If you are going to go to the Pit during this event, I'd suggest not waiting too late to go to dinner since it got very busy after we arrived around six and you totally want to be back by 8 for the event.  After a decent burger and a Hennepin, we headed back.  Heck, here's a picture just because.
And, yes, I got an Ommegang Hennepin even though we were drinking Ommegang the entire next night.  So sue me.

And finally, the tasting.  We came down at 8pm and there were already a decent number of people in the room so don't feel that you should wait.  There were a ton of bottles on the table already and so I added everything but the Expedition and Mud Puppy which I figured I'd save until Saturday night.  While they had plastic cups, we decided to use our new Ommegang chalices as our tasting glasses since boo to plastic.  Looking over the table, I couldn't believe it when I saw a bottle of 2010 Three Floyds Dark Lord just sitting there.  While Jo asked why we were starting with the strongest thing on the table I just laughed and poured us a bit because seriously Dark Lord!
Still just as tasty as the first time I had it.  Turns out, Matt, the guy who brought the bottle, was from Chicago (part of the couple I mentioned before) and lives about 20 minutes from Three Floyds.  He's been to quite a few Dark Lord days and plans on going to this year as well.  Lucky.

Next up was the New Glarus which was also brought by Matt.  I believe it was the Raspberry Tart but I honestly don't remember for sure.  Matt has the blog info so maybe he'll see this and can let us know.  Matt commented below and said it was the Wisconsin Belgian Red, so there we go.

Very, very, very sweet.  Basically smelled like red lifesavers.  Lots of fruit and sugar in every sip.  It wasn't as overwhelmingly sweet as say Lindeman's Framboise but it was definitely up there.  Nice to be able to try New Glarus as the only way to get it is to live in or near Wisconsin or trade for it since they only distribute to that one state.  I have read that their Spotted Cow is at least as popular as Coors in Wisconsin so good for them.

After that was a mystery sample.  I knew what it was then but really have no idea now.  I think it was the Brew Works Mud Puppy Porter we brought so I'll talk about that.
Very smooth roast compliments a tasty chocolate finish.  No bitterness and just really smooth.  It honestly may be one of the best porters I've ever had or at least of the ones I can remember.  Pretty sure it's the first with this much chocolate flavor in it.  Just really good.

Here's the table about halfway through the night.
And that was halfway and not the beginning.  Just tons of great stuff.  The Voodoo Black Magick I brought was ridiculously good too.  The bourbon notes were pleasant and melded really well with the stout.  Even though it was 15%, there was no burning alcohol just a pleasant sweetness.

Probably the best thing I had all night, though, was the Ommegang Bourbon Barrel Adoration.
Just super smooth and so remarkably balanced for a bourbon aged beer.  This was compliments of Marc, one of the owners of the Inn, who also brought out some other great stuff which I'll mention in a bit.  I was talking to Wes, a brewer at Ommegang (more on him in a moment), and he was saying they were very concerned with balance throughout the barrel aging process.  All of them had drank unbalanced bourbon beers before and wanted to end up with something balanced and well made just like the rest of their beers.  He said they continually tasted the beers and pulled them from the barrels when they were ready and not at a set time.  I'll say they succeeded with that balance based on the Adoration.  I am super excited to try the Bourbon Barrel Three Philosophers and Abbey I picked up.

So, more on Wes.  He's a brewer at Ommegang and works the night shift.  Here's him waxing poetic about the Ommegang Tripel Perfection.
Apparently the Tripel Perfection started out as his own homebrew recipe and it was so well received they turned it into a production beer.  Very cool.  He was a really nice guy and we chatted about a number of topics.  Definitely one of the cooler parts of the Bed & Brew weekend is how well Marc integrates Ommegang into it.  For this event he always has a brewer on site which is just really cool.  Not sure if it's always Wes at the Friday tasting, but he was a class act so if he's there when you are, count yourself lucky.

Time passed quickly and the table ended up relatively empty.
Not much survived the carnage although the lone bottle of Bud Light Marc pulled out as a joke sat untouched.  Highlights of the night for me were the Dark Lord, the Bourbon Adoration, Voodoo Black Magick, and the 2007 Hennepin opened by Marc who was ridiculously generous with his cellar the entire weekend.  Great owner for sure and it was awesome to see him so involved.  Really made the weekend feel very genuine.

Honestly, besides the great beer, the best part of the Friday night tasting was getting to meet everyone that was staying at the inn for the weekend.  It was great to meet everyone before Saturday night, getting to find out about them and their interest in beer.  Obviously it will vary from month to month but I'm sure there will always be great people to talk to.  Seems like a six pack for this evening with a bit more for Saturday night would have worked well, but having the growler was a nice touch.  The first night surpassed my expectations and really set the tone for the entire weekend.  Really great night thanks to Marc and everyone else.


  1. Wow, sounds pretty cool! Did the Chicago guy bring the best beer to share? You didn't mention many of the other people. Was the Inn a nice place to stay?

  2. Hey there Rich. Matt from Chicago. Great blog you have here. The New Glarus beer was the Wisconsin Belgian Red.
    So nice meeting you both. What a fun trip.

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  4. Hey Matt! Hope your drive back was good. It was great meeting you and Michelle as well. Thanks for clearing up the New Glarus bottle, I couldn't tell which from the BeerAdvocate list and never actually looked at the bottle.

    As per the "best" beer of the night, I liked the Bourbon Adoration and the Dark Lord the best so it would be a tie between Mark and Matt. That's not to say others didn't bring great stuff, but I've had a lot of beer so those two were interesting. I know people really enjoyed the Consecration and others enjoyed the Weyerbacher Heresy so it really will depend on the person.

    The Inn was really nice. The room was comfortable and the owners Marc and Sherrie were both super nice. It's a convenient place to stay for the Baseball Hall of Fame as well as it's a 5 minute walk from there.