We set sail in the early evening of Friday, May 26 (the start of Memorial Day weekend) with a few new places on our agenda. Our first stop of the evening was Benny Brewing Co. The last time we were up in this neck of the woods, we skipped Benny due to time constraints. Since then, they'd moved to a larger location and opened a brew pub in Wilkes-Barre, only a few miles from our next stop - Breaker Brewing. But more on Breaker in a bit. I was surprised by the size of Benny... um, OK... that sounded dirty! But the place was much roomier than I'd anticipated. They also have a beer garden out back, and they even grow their own hops. See?
|Hop bines outside in Benny's beer garden.|
|Pleeps with our first beer of the weekend!|
We headed a few miles across the town to Breaker Brewing Company, a haven for coal crackers. I appreciate this place due to its nod to the coal region, which as many of you know, is our old stomping grounds. Well, Breaker is a bit north of where Brewslut and I grew up, but it's definitely all the "coal region" up in them there parts! We typically opt for sampler flights at Breaker, since they usually have 10+ beers available. Since our last visit, it seems like they changed gears a bit and moved more from using odd ingredients in lieu of more approachable NE-style hoppy beers. Aside from the Farmhouse Plum (which Brewslut ordered as part of her 3-beer flight), all three beers I sampled were hazy hoppy offerings. Here's the low-down:
- Dem Oats Pale Ale - American pale ale brewed with oats and Citra and Eureka hops.
- Smooph 04 - NE IPA hopped with Citra and Mosaic. Hints of melon and tropical fruit.
- Carbon IPA - IPA hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Apollo. Grapefruit and piney notes.
|Insider Breaker's bar area.|
With a new-ish tasting room, I made it a priority to add Susquehanna Brewing (SBC) to our weekend itinerary. While the spot itself was pretty cool, I was ultimately disappointed with my beer. Sadly, Brewslut concurred. SBC first hit our map when brewer/friend Guy Hagner (of One Guy and Berwick fame) helped open - and then started brewing for - SBC. I'd had a few of its beers over the years, none of which particularly "wowed" me (although Brewslut loves the Shady Spot shandy beer). But based on Guy's reputation as a brewer, I tried the beers as I encountered them out in the real world.
|Entrance to Susquehanna's newly opened tasting room.|
|Monkeying around with Pleeps.|
I'd like to quickly point out that I love the bathrooms at Sabatini's... perhaps not as much as Zeno's, though. But still, I love the walk through the corridor to a collection of unisex stalls, with each door depicting a famous celebrity - everyone from Kermit the Frog to Bill Clinton.
|...back and to the left.|
When nature calls at Sabatini's, you have plenty of decisions to make, one of which is this: Who's going to watch over me while I urinate? I went with Caitlyn.
|OK... I'm going in!|
Things got off to a good start on Saturday. I'm not sure how our first brewery of the day had eluded us for so long. The North, situated just west of Binghamton in the town of Endicott, had been alive and kickin' for a solid 5 years by the time we'd caught wind of this sweet little brewery. I had pretty high hopes after perusing the website, and I'm glad to say The North didn't disappoint. Sometimes I feel I possess an innate ability to sniff out the "good ones." The North is definitely one of the good ones.
|The North... cross another one off the list!|
- Naked Rambi - kettle soured ale
- Blü - easy-drinking pale lager (the first lager they ever brewed).
- Black Donald - flagship porter with equal parts roast, chocolate and hops. My favorite of the line-up!
- Roasty O'Donnell - Pun-filled roasty, coffee-forward oatmeal stout.
- Kookie Klouds - a tasty imperial cookies and cream stout.
|Inside The North.|
|This isn't the monkey you're looking for.|
After sharing these cans with our small congregation, one of the other customers purchased a bottle of Loaded God Complex, one of The North's Imperial Stouts, and cracked it open to share with the group. It's never too early to imbibe a nice RIS (that could be our Pour Travelers motto... or perhaps our mantra), and this one was a fine example of the style. As its name implies, this particular variation was the "loaded" version, and was touted as a "hazelnut mocha chili stout." The hazelnut was quite prominent, but there was also some peppery heat in the finish, which mingled nicely with the cooling chocolate notes.
|Thanks for sharing, bro!|
This is the kind of brewery every town needs. I loved the vibe, the people, and - most importantly - the beers. This place is worth going out of your way to visit. We'll definitely be back... hopefully sooner than later.
After kicking things off on the right foot, it was off to Binghamton Brewing, another first-time stop for us. During our previous night's visit to Sabatini's, Kristen said that Binghamton was her favorite of the breweries in Binghamton, so we were excited to check it out. We arrived right at the 2 p.m. opening time, so the place was vacant, save for the cheery and talkative purple-haired bartender. We took our places at the bar and perused the tap list, which included about six beers. I began with a short pour of the aptly named Citra Pale Ale, which was light, hoppy and enjoyable. Brewslut opted for the Purple Rain, a Gose with Concord grape juice. She was wowed. I rarely see her bowled over with a beer, but this was one such occasion. Ultimately, I believe it turned out to be her favorite beer of the weekend. I must admit, it was quite delicious, and the color of the beer hearkened our friendly bartender's hair.
|Pleeps and a half pint!|
|...just a quick stroll through the brewery to the can!|
Back at my seat, we went in for round two. I decided on the Maple Brown Ale, while Brewslut went with the Sweet Milk Stout. Both were solid but not quite as enjoyable as our initial beers. However, Purple Rain especially was tough to beat. Since our bartender was so friendly and accommodating (and an apparent fan of Tröegs, I learned), I went out to grab her a bottle of Crimson Pistil, our new hibiscus IPA, and she was thankful (so much so that she comped our entire tab)!
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the awesome cheddar popcorn they had as a complimentary bar snack. This stuff was like crack, and I had to push the bowl away after a while before I devoured an entire bag myself. Hey, at least I was loading up on carbs, right? (Actually, the beer was doing a fine job in that respect.)
|This popcorn is making me thirsty!|
Like Water Street, we first visited Galaxy Brewing over last Memorial Day weekend. This place has an obvious outer space vibe with a seating area called the "lunar lounge," complete with a moon mural, and many of its beers are named with the space theme in mind. Last time, we enjoyed a few hefty IPAs. This time, however, it was a whiskey barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout called Panic that caught our attention first. But first, a bathroom break!
|The Lunar Lounge inside Galaxy Brewing.|
Speaking of stouts, our next selection was named after my favorite episode of Ren & Stimpy - Space Madness. This was an Oatmeal Stout with Brettanomyces (a wild bacteria that imparts sourness or barnyard funk to a beer). I don't dig sour stouts too often, but this one was subtle and pretty enjoyable. And we couldn't leave without trying Clax, a lime stout, which came across like a Mexican cola. The lime was off the charts here. I'm not sure how they landed on that particular name, as a quick trip to Urban Dictionary lists the following definitions:
- A word to describe people with the relative IQ of a salmon.
- Somebody who acts like a complete idiot 24/7.
- It can also mean nothing.
Hmmmm. OK, so that wasn't helpful. I guess this one will remain a mystery sealed in citrus.
After our visit to Galaxy, it was time to say "farewell" to Binghamton and head back to Montrose, PA for one final stop - Endless Brewing. For a super tiny place in the middle of nowhere, these guys are legit. When we arrived, the parking lot was full and the place was packed with folks sampling beer and getting growler fills. Upon perusing the amusing chalkboard, I was sad to see that Grasshopper, an excellent pale ale (and its flagship beer) was sold out for the time being. Last year, I bought a six-pack of cans and enjoyed it very much. However, there were plenty of new beers to try this time.
|Always great to be back at Endless!|
After our last sample, it was time to head to DetFest and get down with my peeps. More drinking ensued, of course, thanks in part to my well-stocked cooler of Tröegs beer including recently procured crowlers of Scratch Boysenberry Gose and Passion Fruit IPA. I also had a few nicks of whiskey, thanks to a few of my bandmates. After melting faces for a few hours, it was time for a hard - and well-deserved - crash in the tent!
Stay tuned for additional adventures from Memorial Day weekend 2017, including the return trip home and our stops along the way. Never fear! We took the scenic route.
Until next time...
Brewslut must have been pretty tipsy to let me capture her eyes on camera.
(Pleeps is usually her photo stand-in; otherwise, she's usually wearing sunglasses.)