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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend: Part II - Beds yield more beer

On Sunday morning, my ass was dragging like a muffler hanging from the bottom of an old, rusty El Camino. I'm not overly fond of sleeping in a tent, so that - coupled with my beer intake from the previous day and not getting to bed until about 3 a.m. - contributed to my loaf-like demeanor. I had a feeling that we were going to skimp a bit on my ambitious Sunday schedule, which included return visits to Upstate and Horseheads (see Everybody Got to Deviate from the Norm) as well as a dip down into Billtown before retiring at the chalet for the evening. Turns out we only hit a fraction of what we'd anticipated, because I was beat like a 7th grader's dick on a sick day home from school. OK, enough with the similies. Let's get to the beer!

But not quite yet! I really wanted to get back to Farmhouse Brewery, but they didn't open until 1 p.m. on Sunday. So, we consulted our trusty Google and found a suitable place for breakfast. Off we go, then, to Owego! We settled on the family-owned and operated Owego Kitchen, and I'm glad we did. not only was the food fantastic, the owner was super-friendly and the service was swift. So swift, in fact, that we got done eating and still had time to kill. What to do? Much to the chagrin of Brewslut, I asked the owner if there were any record stores around. I'd noticed a wide assortment of shops and boutiques as we searched for a parking spot near the eatery. He kindly informed me that just down the street was an antique complex in an old Newberry's department store. (Remember Newberry's, that great "five and dime" store? We had one in Shamokin back in the day.) At any rate, we had about an hour or so to kill, so we took the short walk down the street to the old Newberry's-turned-antique complex and did some vinyl hunting. I picked up four records (including a still-sealed copy of Bob & Doug McKenzie's Great White North album)! so it was an hour well-spent. After all this, we still got to Farmhouse about thirty minutes early, so we sat in the parking lot until someone arrived. We managed to gain access about five minutes early when the owner/brewer arrived.

Tons o' taps at Farmhouse Brewery in Owego, NY!

Last year, I really enjoyed our visit to Farmhouse, a small brewery in what seems like the basement of someone's house. But this tiny place cranks tons of interesting beers. If you're feeling adventurous, you can get a mega-flight of everything on tap, which is somewhere in the ballpark of 21 beers or thereabouts. Needless to say, this is a sampler-friendly brewery. So bring on the flights, I say! Here's what we sampled during our visit:
  • Cuke Skywalker - cucumber gose with live probiotic cultures. 
  • Sweet Fancy Moses - Wheat wine with cacao nibs and Madagascar vanilla beans. 
  • Conflagration - coconut coffee brown ale.
  • Ain't it Dandy - Berliner Weisse brewed with estate-grown organic dandelions and local lemon balm.
  • Grinder - saison fermented with aronia berries (aka chokeberries). I've never heard of either!
  • Crazy Daizy Went Wild - barrel-aged wild Belgian-style Tripel. 
  • Commander Bovine - DIPA fermented with Brettanomyces
  • The Unfermentables - oatmeal stout... this one was more "special" but I can't remember what additional ingredients this beer featured. 
Pleeps taking flight at Farmhouse.

I remembered everyone from our last visit to Farmhouse (not their names... are you kidding me?!) but their faces and personalities. I love the experimentation that goes on at this place. The beers here are always creative and well-done, and the breadth of styles available is mesmerizing. I also appreciate the low-key vibe the brewery emanates. The people here are friendly and not in any way pretentious at all. To me, this is so refreshing to witness firsthand, especially as the number of breweries continues to grow, some of which are run by entitled hipsters who think they know everything. Thankfully, Farmhouse is churning out quality beers with the right attitude. There's nothing more off-putting than a brewery that takes itself too seriously. Am I wrong? You're not wrong Ffej, you're just an asshole. OK then.

Our second stop of the day, Diversion Brewing Company, was a first-time visit for us. To be honest, they weren't even on the original list (I wasn't aware of its existence, actually). But the fine folks at Farmhouse recommended them, and they were situated in the general area we were headed. So, in the literal sense, we actually make a diversion to get to Diversion. Ultimately, I'm glad we swung by because not only did we get to cross another new place off the list, but their beers were worth the effort.

My vantage point at Diversion.
Since this was a new place for us, more sampler flights were in order. Here's the gist:
  • Zested Interest - light, refreshing pale ale heavy on citrus zest. Great name!
  • Sunny Side Up - session IPA with grassy and earthy hop notes. Name sounds familiar...
  • Empire's Key - crisp, smooth DIPA with big hop nose.
  • Talent Juice - aggressively hopped DIPA.
We enjoyed a literal diversion to visit Diversion.

Beer aside, this place had lots of character. Situated on a farm, the rustic tasting room was constructed almost exclusively of recycled and re-purposed materials, including barn wood, metal siding, and a number of other things. The decor was unique and the overall atmosphere proved conducive to drinking. It's just a cozy place to kick back and enjoy a few beers. 

Cool re-purposed barn siding at Diversion.

After our flights, we decided to get half-pours of something else, since our initial beers passed the test. I went with East Coast Roast, creamy stout with hints of chocolate and coffee. Overall, the beers were well done for a new-ish place, and the atmosphere was spot-on. It was definitely worth the diversion in our itinerary to swing by for a visit.

We decided to forego both Upstate and Horseheads since we'd need to go a bit further north from Diversion and then backtrack down to Yorkholo. Instead, we headed for Yorkholo for a late lunch. We'd only just finally got to visit Yorkholo on a recent Chalet excursion (refer to aforementioned link provided above if you haven't clicked on it already) and were thoroughly impressed, not only with the beer, but, well... everything! So I was excited to be back despite my weary state. Plus, we were hungry.

First, lunch! In perusing the menu, we noticed that they featured an "award-winning" veggie burger. It sounded too good to turn down, so we both got one. Hot damn! Served in a grilled flour tortilla with some kind of awesome sauce, it reminded me of a Taco Bell grilled stuffed burrito, except way better (both tasting and for you). I washed mine down with a tasty Double Dry Hopped Saison
Brewslut opted for Gumption & Grit, an IPA with real mango puree blended into it. Thick, fruity and opaque, this sucker boasted a peppery citrus rind (you know, the white pith) character with a moderate bitter finish. Appearance-wise, it reminded me of freshly squeezed orange juice. The description indicated it might be pretty "chunktastic" (my word, not theirs), but we didn't experience any floaters or foreign matter suspended within.

My vantage point from the bar at Yorkholo.

I closed out our visit with a pour of Mountaineer, an extremely hazy DIPA. This one featured a peachy character with an abundance of citrus fruit. And with that, stick a fork in me, because that was about all I could muster after driving a few hundred miles and getting less than adequate sleep the previous night.

Unfortunately, Selin's Grove was closed on Monday (not just because of Memorial Day, but because they are always closed on Monday), so we took the shorter route home. But first, we stopped in at Pizza Boy to try some recent tap list additions. It had been a while since I got some face-time with Terry (the brewer), so it was cool to see him there hanging out. I started with a pint of  Hop Vision - Motueka, Terry's answer to the "haze craze." While it definitely didn't disappoint, I was more interested in a new DIPA called Wheezin the Juice (nice Pauly Shore reference!), which was insanely drinkable given its 8% ABV. Brewslut worked on the latest in the Swinglebeer series, a Passionfruit and Oat pale ale. (Side note: Hey Swingle, when are you doing to make "Drink My Ass for Thanksgiving?") She also enjoyed - I mean really enjoyed like on the level of multiple orgasms - the new milk sugar sour IPA called LemonDAIRY. I must agree that this was easily our favorite of the bunch. She liked it so much that we took home two 6-packs of recently canned pounders to enjoy elsewhere. This beer is so tart and refreshing, but straddles the line between citrus tang and hops nicely. Terry definitely knocked this one out of the park!

To cap off an enjoyable - albeit tiresome - weekend, some random guy paid for everyone's tab in the entire restaurant! When was the last time that happened to you?! More than likely, your answer was "never!" All in all, it was a fine long holiday weekend, and we were able to enjoy some favorite breweries along with a few great new finds. I look forward to returning to (especially) Upstate NY again to explore a bit further north into Fingerlakes territory. Thanks for reading. Until next time...


  1. Your skipping of Upstate was a mistake. Last week I visited Iron Flamingo (Corning), Diversion and was definitely the best of the bunch. Their Blueberry Berliner was outstanding. Next time...can't hit them all at once!

  2. Glad you enjoyed your time at our brewery, thanks for the kind words!
    Diversion Brewing


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