The subject of this blog is about exploring the world of craft beer and homebrew in, around and not too far outside of Athens, GA. Sometimes though we can get kinda far away from Athens. Back in May Sarah and I were blessed enough to take our five-year anniversary trip to the Niagara region of Canada. We explored the world of craft beer AND wine way far away from Athens. We did the usual tourist trap of visiting the falls; which I have to say is a must for anyone. I wouldn’t recommend staying on either side (stay on the Canada side for sure), but I would plan on getting there at sunrise, plan your entire day to be spent on both side of the falls and do everything. I would recommend staying in Niagara on the Lake. It’s pure gorgeous and a short drive to the falls even taking the scenic route by the water the entire way.
Niagara on the Lake (NotL) is known for its wine; more famously known for the amount of ice wine it produces. Ice wine is a very late harvest. It’s not harvest until the grapes have been frozen for three consecutive nights. Why you ask? When frozen the water in the grapes is, well, frozen; so all that is left is sugar. So as you might have figured out by now ice wine is stupid sweet. It’s fermentation is usually capped around 10% ABV to save the sweetness, or else a superior yeast would dry it out and you could end up with a ridiculously high alcohol wine. It’s also stupid expensive for even small quantities, but damn good.
NotL is also getting it’s taste buds into craft beer. We visited two of them while we were there; Silversmith Brewing Company and Oast House Brewery. Sarah was the best on our trip; I love that girl. She was all about checking them both out all to please me. We tried to check out Silversmith but they were closed. Some time later, or maybe the next day they were open. Very small, start-up brewery that was still brewing on their pilot system and installing their brew house. Known for their black lager that I must say is quite nice. Subtle roast notes, mild hoppiness as a true lager and quite drinkable. They had a few others on tap and let me sample them all. We talked beer for some time and I even gave some suggestions on a ‘beta’ beer; dubbed Beta One. A hoppy beer not akin to the England/Canadian likes. Its balance was off, too bitter, it stripped the tongue it was so bitter. They were not off much, but it reminds me of a Clown Shoes beer. I did walk out with a bottle of black lager and enjoyed it back at our bed and breakfast, The Pillar and Post.
We made it to two or three wineries and eventually over to Oast House. FYI, an oast house is used to dry hops and has a conical roof that turns. They have their act down; stock the brewery with nice looking ladies with enough knowledge to keep the common mans attention. However only the brewer’s girlfriend could answer most of my questions. We showed up on Friday, the day of our anniversary and the day they tapped their newest beer a Biere de Garde. It had a nice taste but you could tell by the body and mouthfeel it was young and needed to age. I was too eager to get a bottle home to share and paid the price; an explosion in my luggage on our flight from Buffalo to Atlanta. I believe temperature was to fault as the beer was still bubble wrapped; only the bottom was gone and it’s contents on everything else in my suitcase (most of which was Sarah’s clean clothes). I still salvaged their nice Saison that I plan to open with Brian when we find time. Their beers were damn good. We had a farmhouse ale, biere de garde, saison and a smoky irish stout. It was pretty damn good and they almost seemed in awe that I enjoyed it. I think they’re use to the English-like only liking milds or local wines.
Later back at the B&B we enjoyed some tapas and a drink. Sarah went for a martini and I had another Oast House with my poutine. Y’all, the way to my wife’s heart is french fries and she’d never had poutine. When we go to Taco Mac for wings she has to have their fries. She likes the damn shoestring kind like they serve. You can’t make poutine with shoestrings those and these were awesome with nice cheese curds too as an appetizer portion. So just now as I type this I remember I owe her a trip to The Royal Peasant for some poutine. If anyone knows of good poutine in Athens let me know. My wife will kiss me on the mouth for some.
Basically guys; if you want to have a happy wife, visit NotL; voted #1 destination for food and drinks on Trip Advisor in Canada (I just saw that tonight, btw). I’m looking forward to what our 10th Anniversary will look like. Maybe Ireland; Seattle or even back to Hawaii? On the forefront it’s about to happen; the first brew of the season. It’s going to be a Saison since that yeast can handle the temperatures we’re seeing now. It’s not hot, but it’s not 68F in the house either.
Come back, bring ya lady friend and cheers!