March 2002 Archives


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Back In 1943, in his book McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, Joseph Mitchell stated this in the chapter entitled The Old House At Home:


"McSorley's occupies the ground floor of a red-brick tenement at 15 Seventh Street, just off Cooper Square, where the Bowery ends. It was opened in 1854 and is the oldest saloon in New York City. In eighty-eight years it has had four owners--an Irish immigrant, his son, a retired policeman, and his daughter--and all of them have been opposed to change. It is equipped with electricity, but the bar is stubbornly illuminated with a pair of gas lamps, which flicker fitfully and throw shadows on the low , cobwebby ceiling each time someone opens the street door. There is no cash register. Coins are dropped in soup bowls-one for nickels, one for dimes, one for quarters, and one for halves-and bills are kept in a rose-wood cashbox. It is a drowsy place; the bartenders never make a needless move, the customers nurse their mugs of ale, and the three clocks on the walls have not been in agreement for many years."


At McSorley's not much has changed since 1943. Yes, some of the frosted glass windows on the mensroom door have been broken and replaced with clear ones. And the beer is no longer brewed by Fidelio Brewery, it's now reportedly brewed by Stroh Brewing Co. But I get the feeling that if John McSorley was still around he would not be dissapointed by the way is pub is run.


New England Beer Tour

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Well I am back from the New England Beer Tour. We started off at Carl's for breakfast. Carl's is a diner about the size of a 1971 Chrysler Newport . I ordered french toast which is about four dollars. I made it through the first 10 pieces or so. I also got a side of bacon which comes with about five pounds of potato's and 12 strips of Bacon. Needless to say we were all stuffed. From there we visited the Harpoon Brewery. Harpoon has recently purchased Catamount. I tried the Catamount Pale Ale, UFO Hefeweizen, IPA, and Hibernian Ale. The Hibernian is a very good Irish Red. My favorite however was the UFO. From there we went to Magic Hat Brewing in Burlington, VT. There I sampled a experimental brew with Northern Brewer Hops. Very Excellent. I also tried their Heart of Darkness stout. It seemed a bit drier on tap than in the bottle. We sampled their Humble Patience. This is an Irish Red on tap with Nitrogen. It is the same thing as Bob's first except for the Nitro-tap. Simular to Guinness in head. Of course the simularities end there. We also made a couple of other stops.


After sampling a couple more brews at Magic Hat we headed on down to Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, VT. There I sampled the Stovepipe Porter. It was similar to Saranac's Black Forest. It was a good brew, but is not in my definition a porter. It was way too hoppy for a porter, and had a very light body. It reminded me of a steambeer porter I once brewed myself. I also tried their Pale Ale, Copper Ale, and their Mudbock Ale, which is not a Bock. Frankly I was not impressed at all by any of their beer. I will never drink it again. For a good Bock try Brooklyn's Doppel Bock. Now there is a beer! I tried one last evening, and I was very impressed. It has the typical sour taste that a bock should have. There is a reason that Garret Oliver is famous. Next on our list was the Mendocino Brewery in Saratoga Springs, NY.


We most definitely saved the best for last. At Mendocino we sampled one of their new products not yet released. It's called Old Saratoga Lager, it's a Vienna style lager. Very similar to Brooklyn's Lager. One of those beers we have to thank for bringing the American beer drinker around to real beer. To say that the bartender was a great gentleman is an understatement. If anyone would like to see how a brewery should be run, stop by Saratoga Springs, Mendocino Brewery. We were able to drink several other products as well. Unlike Otter Creek these were not 2oz samples, but rather beer by the pint. The bartender showed us how to make a black and tan using Black Hawk Stout, and Eye Of The Hawk. Eye Of The Hawk is an 8.0% ale. It's color and flavor are reminiscent of a barley wine. We also sampled their Blue Herring pale ale. At our departure we were obliged to take six free pint glasses. Their beer by the case prices were excellent, frankly the best deal I have seen for such high quality beer.


About the only negative thing I have to say is that I don't like Mendoncino's labels. Needless to say I'll put up with the poor graphics if they continue to produce the same quality beer consistently.


The Brewmaster


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