A few weeks ago, I took advantage of Albany’s central location and planned a weekend trip around the wider New York state, instead of heading back to NYC for the weekend like normal. I drove around the famous finger lakes but it was still the end of the crazy long winter, so it wasn’t really suitable weather for enjoying nature. Instead, I did the next best thing and visited a number of breweries in Ithaca, Syracuse, Utica and Cooperstown. Nature can give you good days and bad days but beer always gives you a good day.
The final and best part of the excursion was Cooperstown, home to the Ommegang brewery and the Baseball Hall of Fame. I only learned about the Hall of Fame afterwards, though, so I apparently drove straight past it without realising. Ommegang was what I was really looking for as it is possibly my #1 favourite American brewery. They make elegant bottles and great, Belgian flavours. I was so excited when I first learnt that they were located just 2 hours from my work in Albany but also heartbroken to find out that they weren’t open on weeknights. A weekend excursion was the only way.
Ommegang felt like a palace compared to the other breweries that I saw. Outside, the water tank was painted with cow print and the roof tiles were decorated in fancy Belgian patterns. Inside, The taproom was full of beautiful wood and collectibles. The decorations and gift shop paid full homage to their parent and sister breweries in Belgium, which seemed akin to showing off your family tartan when you’re of noble blood. The finale to my visit was to taste their latest Game of Thrones beer named Three-Eyed Raven, which was to be released in conjunction with the launch of season 5. The Three-Eyed Raven didn’t help me perceive the mysteries of time and space or tell me my future, but it tasted fine with my bratwurst. I took a growler home, relished it slowly and whispered to myself, “Ommegosh”.
You know you’re in USA when…
– State capitals are always small, unknown cities in the center of their state, rather than the big, famous cities that we foreigners know about.