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Central Leatherstocking Region
by Richard Vang
Great Lakes Brewing News, (East Amherst, NY) 1997, 2:3

Presented by the Upstate Chunk & Paradigm Company


Spring has sprung here in the land made famous by James Fenimore Cooper. Spring is synonymous with baseball, and Cooperstown Brewing Company has started the season in full swing by bottling two of its most successful beers. In addition to their flagship Old Slugger Pale Ale, CBC now bottles Benchwarmer Porter and Nine Man Ale. Full-bodied and mellow, Benchwarmer uses 4% chocolate malt, and can be enjoyed all year round. Plan on knocking a few of these back on a summer night, but at 6.3% a.b.v., expect the opposite. Nine Man Ale is a deep golden ale flavored with honey. The recipe calls for English Pale Ale and crystal malts, torrified wheat, and Cascade and Fuggles hops. Refreshing and light on the palate, Nine Man features a neck-label with a special friend for the folks in the Binghamton area. All of CBC’s beers are available at your local package store in bottles and kegs. They will be visiting a few of the regional brew festivals this year too, such as the Song Mtn. Brewfest in Tully, the Vermont Brewfest in Burlington, and at the Zoo in Syracuse. The best place to pick up a new growler or a case, as well as shirts, hats, and other merchandise, is at CBC’s Milford Brewery, located six miles south of Cooperstown on Rt. 28. Tours are available daily, and they can be reached at (607)286-9330.

Bert De Wit, head brewer of Vanberg & DeWulf’s Brewery Omegang, is overseeing the installation of equipment as we speak. Bert is a graduate of Leuven University in Belgium, and has trained at the Affligem and Moortgat breweries. He will employ top fermenting, bottle-conditioning, and warm aging techniques when he begins brewing this July. The building looks fantastic, but unfortunately, the grand opening of Brewery Ommegang will probably not take place until next spring. Not to fear though, as V&D continues operations as the importers of Artisanal Belgian Ales. In addition to their normal retail and mail outlets, several of their beers will now be available on tap, such as Boon Kriek Lambic, Clovis (from the makers of Scaldis), Rodenbach Grand Cru, and my favorite, Blanche de Bruges. Vanberg & DeWulf can be reached in Cooperstown at 1-800-656-1212, or visit their great Web site at Proost!

Three fine restaurants located in the Central Leatherstocking region offer unique dining, great beer, and upstate New York charm. The Bullthistle Inn, owned an operated by Ron Peebles since 1994, is located in Sherburne, along Rt. 80. An historic inn built in 1917, great care has been taken to restore and remodel the magnificent building. Ron has assembled one of the finest menus this author has ever seen, and uses only the freshest ingredients and a minimum of processed foods. Breads are baked daily, and accompany everything from Yucatan Peninsula Salad, to Mustard Herb Pork Tenderloin. Special dietary needs can be accommodated, and if yours requires quality beer to digest your food, you can find a solid selection of micros (Old Slugger Pale Ale) and imports (Guinness), as well as cider and wines. The Inn also features the restored Reading Room Pub, which is a great place to have a brew and a sandwich, sit in front of the fire, or just look at the antiques and art work on the walls—which are all for sale as well. Reservations are not required, but it is recommend that you call ahead at 607-674-6900.

If you find yourself in Oneonta, you’ll have to stop at the Autumn Café for lunch or dinner. The Autumn is a unique blend of old hippie and new age, vegetarians and carnivores, blues and folk, fine wines and microbrews. If its food you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the ever-changing daily specials, such as Pork with Pesto, or Vegetarian Enchiladas. You can get a great hamburger or a veggie burger, and ethnic foods are always presented. If you’re looking for beverages, a selection of fine wines might suit you, or you can belly up to the bar (actually the counter and shelves from an old pharmacy) and sip on beers from Cooperstown Brewing, Saranac, Sierra Nevada, or many others. If you’re into music, you can find headliner blues artists, folk music, or the occasional Cajun zydeco band, all presented upon the legendary pickle-barrel stage a few nights a week. If you’re in the region, you owe it to yourself to check out Oneonta’s Main Street, and stop in to the Autumn. They can be reached at 607-432-6845.

If you’ve got a jones for the ‘good old days’ of the railroad, then stop at Falco’s Junction along Rt. 7 in Cooperstown Junction, where you can find the finest authentic Italian food served in an 1926 antique railroad dining car. Fred Falco presents a wide range of appetizers and entrees, from homemade Bruschetta topped with roasted red peppers, prosciutto and mozzarella, to Uncle Eddie’s Delight (pork medallions, shrimp, red onions, mushrooms, and plum tomatoes in a spicy cream sauce over fettuccini—yikes!). In addition to the food you’ll find a comfortable little bar, complete with 27—count ‘em—27 beers on tap. The selection (the biggest in the region) features English Ales, as well as American microbrews. As one customer stated when he first walked in, "Look at all those beers. I suppose they’re all hooked up to something!" When you walk in to Falco’s, prepare to be fortified with substantial food and substantial beer. They are open every evening except Monday, and can be reached at 607-433-0140. Call for directions.

Next issue: Home Brew Shops and Home Brew Clubs.


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