Memorial Day Week (end)

Posted: May 22, 2012 in Beer Drinking Adventures

Another long work week with a much needed long weekend to follow…and it couldnt come soon enough.  I am spending another wonderful work week in the capital district of Albany on my companys dime and against my wishes.  My typical monday routine is to go to The Ruck in Troy, answer trivia questions and drink beer and hang out with Fuj (the character formerly known as Booch in one of my previous posts) and a myriad of other colorful characters plopping down single dollar bills for whatever the shit beer special is for the evening.  But, in an Un-Fuj like way, he suggested I come over for dinner and some beers.  Home cooked meals are always better than your diahrea omelettes from Dennys or sizzling shitbox fajitas from Chilis anyday of the week.  But…the plot thickens…upon arrival at Chez Fuj (an actual 4Square location complete with the special of A Punch in the Dick) it becomes apparent why he was cooking dinner that night…it was the first birthday of his dog, Kuma (pronounced Koo-Ma). Kuma even got his own birthday dog cake, decorated biscuit really, as a gift from his master.

Prepared for the special occassion were grilled shrimp tacos, a guacamole gone awry salsa and my contribution of beer…some good, some were of questionable judgement. Now I have had Saranacs White IPA on tap several times and had found it to be a rather decent offering from a mediocre brewer…but the bottle failed to impress. Also, nothing say a good time like a well cellared 8 month old bottle of Pliny the Elder IPA (turned barleywine)…a great beer as it turned out but just not a Pliny. A surprise for the even was a 12oz bottle of Troegs Scratch 28, which was brewed as a Roggenbier style. This beer had an interesting nose and flavor similarily representing a peach/apricot lambic. It was mild on sweetness and had no bitterness and was surprisingly good.

The winner of the night were the two 16oz cans handed to me by Fuj of one of the highest rated DIPAs, The Alchemist Heady Topper. This beer is off the charts with a solid floral, citrusy, hibiscus nose and a great orange, grapefruit, floral taste with a orange zest finish. A well balanced beer not overly hopped to burn you out like most high powered (and sometimes over hyped) IPAs might do. I gave it a 4.6 /5 rating, which definitely placed it in my Top 5 highest rated beers to date. Yeah, its that freaking good.

Hello Vermont, home to some great brewers like Magic Hat and Otter Creek? They do have some great brewers like The Alchemist, Hill Farmstead and little ol’ Lawsons Finest Liquids. After acquiring Fuj’s last two cans of Heady Topper, it must have kept him up all night, shaking, cold sweats, fists the point that he felt the need to run to Vermont and acquire more Heady Topper immediately. Road Trip Anyone???

The drive from Clifton Park NY to Manchester VT was slightly over one hour long. Many of the roads were very twisted as you circumvented mountain after mountain. As we reached our destination of Manchester Discount Beverage, both Fuj and I realzied that we were going to need a shopping cart for our haul. The cashier from the counter asked if we needed assisance and it was obvious that he was a little ‘slow’. I dont know if he fell a couple of IQ points short or if he was just another local slow Vermontian, Vermontanese, whatever. After spending 20 minutes selecting our beverages and grabbing cases of Heady Topper, we proceed to the checkout where the slow guy was awaiting us. After letting several people with single bottles jump ahead of us, in walks in your typical burner. I dont know if that all Vermont dirty hippies looked but this guy almost fit the cliche exactly. He has a ratty t shirt, atty cargo shorts, dirty ass feet from wearing flip flops and a somewhat glazed eye stare to him. Upon inspecting our shopping cart full of beer, he asks “You guys having a party?”…my reply ‘Nope, just stocking up on supplies’…Fuj responds “Gearing up for camping this weekend’..after several comments back and forth between Fuj and the dirty hippy, the dirtball bursts out with “Mah, Car Camping, thats almost like real camping”. Apparently in hippy culture, the only real way to camp is to carry all of your gear in and out with you. I can see that because most dirty hippies dont have cars and would rather smoke some tree as opposed to hurting one. A little taken aback, the hippy then invites us back to his place for some ‘good bud’ and our beers. Respectfully, we declined…I guess the thought of going to smoke some shit and drink our good beer just didnt seem that inviting to us. As we walk out and start packing up the back of the car, the dirtball drives up on us and Again invites us back to his shanty or trailer for chronic (he must have needed a reason to smoke some)…which we passed on and got the hell out of dodge.

25 miles south of Manchester is the town of Bennington VT and home to Madison Brewing Company.


Madison Brewing Company

I had stopped here once before and found the food average and the beers a step above mediocre, but figured to give it a shot again. And again, it did not impress either one of us. I ordered a Bison burger which was cooked well, but way under seasoned on a weak ciabotta bun. My beer selections were their Belgian White (which was probably their best beer) and an Old Ale which was lacking in any real flavor. Overall, nice to try something different but lacking in any staying power or any need to return.

Worked all day in/around Albany NY and drove home…tired and exhausted, I could only muster enough energy to crack open another Heady Topper…energy well spent.  Also waiting for me at my house was a small purchase of Bruery goodies too, pic to come later on.

As it was getting towards the end of the work week, its time to undo the perverbial tie, kick off the shoes and settle into a nice brew (or five).  My best friend T is in from Charlotte for the long weekend and brought a cooler of goodies for the weekend (and my cellar).  For this saturday, his wife and daughter are going to his in-laws house in Rochester and he is sticking around the Buffalo area…what a better way to have a bottle share then when someone comes into town.  As a pregame warm up, T and my friend Scott came over to enjoy some brown bottled goodies, we cracked open a couple of cans of Alchemist Heady Topper DIPA (its not my fault, they made me do it), Maine Beer Company Zoe Amber Ale, Olde Mecklenburg Capt. James Jack Pilsner, Cigar City Tropical Heatwave Wheat Ale and Cigar City Jai Alai Humidor Series Cedar.  Other than the Heady Topper, the bottle of Zoe was the best of show, had a really earthy, grainy, milk chocolate nose and taste.

Gearing up for the weekend, taking the night off (somewhat).

Saturday afternoon was spent at the Blue Monk in Buffalo, where a nice group gathered for good food and some tasty beverages.  I, myself enjoy a nice Bison Burger with a side of Duck Frites (note: anything fried in duck fat is going to taste amazing).  I also enjoyed a Southampton Abbot 12 Quad and of course Community Beer Works Frank Pale Ale.

  • Southampton Abbot 12 Quadruple (NY)(10.5% ABV) had a nice light note of dark skinned fruits, mild funky yeast and mild milk chocolate…where as the taste was definitely sweet plums, tart red cherries and milk chocolate taste. 4.00 Rating
  • Community Beer Works Frank Pale Ale (NY)(4.6% ABV) is a local favorite, especially for me too, smelled of definite citrus notes, floral, mild resin and mild earthy tones.  The taste is equally appealing that was floral, lemony, grainy with a citrus peel backbone. 4.40 Rating

Later on that night, several of the guys from the tasting group stopped over to sample some Carolina beers and take advantage of my open cellar, in honor of my best friend coming into town with his family.  The weather was perfect, the beers were great and kept us going late into the evening.  NOTE TO SELF: Do Not finish the night off with an 18.2 ABV beer…people went from feeling good to nighty night.


From Left to Right:

  • Ass Clown Brewing Black Orange IPA (NC) ~ American Black Ale ~ 7.8% ABV ~ 4.03 Rating
  • Sweetwater Brewing Dank Tank DP Barleywine Ale (GA) ~ American Barleywine ~ 10.2% ABV ~ 3.90 Rating
  • Natty Greene’s Pub Cellar Series Belgian Dubbel  (NC) ~ Dubbel ~ 7.7% ABV ~ 4.35 Rating (#95 of 600 bottled)
  • Allagash Brewing Interlude 2009 & 2011 (ME) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 9.5% ABV ~ 4.00 Rating (the 2011 version was bottled with Brett and definitely better)
  • Bruery Black Tuesday 2011 (CA) ~ American Double/Imperial Stout ~ 18.2% ABV ~ 4.22 Rating
  • Bruery Mischief (CA) ~ Belgian Strong Pale Ale ~ 8.5% ABV ~ 4.03 Rating
  • Ithaca LeBleu (NY) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 5.4% ABV ~ 4.43 Rating
  • Dogfish Head/3 Floyds Collaberation Poppaskull ~ Belgian Strong Ale ~ 9.5% ABV ~ 4.23 Rating
  • Duck Rabbit Brewing Hoppy Bunny American Black Ale (NC) ~ American Black Ale ~ 7.3% ABV ~ 3.78 Rating
  • Voodoo Brewing White Magick of the Sun (PA) ~ Witbier ~ 6.75 ABV ~ 3.68 Rating
  • Cambridge Brewing Sgt. Pepper (MA) ~ Saison/Farmhouse Ale ~ 6.0% ABV ~ 4.00 Rating
  • Highland Brewing Cold Mountain Winter Ale (NC) ~ Winter Warmer ~ 5.8% ABV~ 4.00 Rating
  • Ass Clown Brewing Smoked Maple Syrup Black Alw (NC) ~ American Black Ale ~ 6.2% ABV ~ 3.90 Rating

End Scene.

  1. Fuj On Tap says:

    […] Merc cleared my house of Heady Topper Monday night, the withdrawal symptoms started to set in. Sleeplessness, anxiety, nausea, shakiness, grinding of […]

  2. […] Buffalo BAs, so that we can showcase some of our great beers that we typically open for each.  Last Year’s Memorial Day Weekend tasting went very well and I wanted to make sure that we did this one even better than the […]

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