Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Breweries: Part 2

Three miles further down the road from Cooperstown, in a town called Milford, is the Cooperstown Brewing Company. Quite different from Ommegang in many ways, CBC has been in existence a couple years longer and their focus is on English-style ales. They also charged $3 per person for their tour/tasting, and that didn't include any complimentary food.

Our tour guide wasn't as comfortable in his role as his counterpart at Ommegang was, but I still liked his approach of continually referencing how his company's brewing process compared to the home brewer's. He did allow us to taste half of our samples prior to the tour, and the other half after, so that broke things up nicely. Admittedly, we had already consumed the alcoholic equivalent of approximately 2 1/2 beers prior to our arrival in Milford.

CBC did have one of the best rest rooms I've ever seen, and they also brew an excellent root beer, but these and their tour guide's ability to explain things in simpler terms are the only advantages they have on Ommegang. Here's how I rate their mostly mediocre offerings:

Nine Man Ale: Golden ales are definitely not my thing, but this one certainly isn't swill. On the other hand, it did absolutely nothing for me. Grade: C-

Old Slugger Pale Ale: Their flagship brew, this one is nothing to write home about either. I've had worse, though, and it is one my friends' favorites. Grade: C+

Back Yard India Pale Ale: I can't really say I've ever had an IPA I considered bad. Many, though, are overly hopped without offering enough malt balance. This brew doesn't fall into that trap, but is doesn't rise above the so-so level either. Grade: C

Pride of Milford Special Ale: This darker, somewhat complex ale was one of the highlights of our visit to CBC, other than the root beer and the rest room. Grade: B-

Benchwarmer Porter: Easily the best of the bunch, this was their only beer that I really thought was good relative to others of its style. Smooth, creamy and flavorful, this is one that I'd certainly like to try again. Grade: B

Strike Out Stout: After tasting their porter, I was optimistic to try this one, but just ended up disappointed. A stout this low in alcoholic content had better be a Guinness, which this is not. Grade: C

In the 1800s, upstate New York was the nation's leading producer of hops. Today, due to their drier summers, Oregon and Washington—particularly the Yakima Valley—are the country's primary growers of hops. I give the Cooperstown Brewing Company credit for growing their own, but in the end, it's the product that matters, and most of theirs just don't live up to my standards.


  1. Great stuff - I have had the Old Slugger and agree with your assessment. of course neither of us will turn down a cold, open bottle. :)

    Porters and Darks - mmm...mmm..mmm