Monday, September 07, 2009

The Gilded Otter

The Gilded Otter was the name of the ship that the French Huguenots who founded New Paltz, New York came to the United States on. They came from the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz, the latter part of which was pronounced Paltz by the people of that particular area.

The Gilded Otter is also the name of a brew pub in this upstate New York village that also happens to be quite the hippie college town. KJ and I visited there on Saturday, and discovered another brew pub that has much better food than it does beer.

Gilded Otter sign
Rather than order the sampler, we opted to order a pint each and share them, of course. My initial impressions were that they were pretty good, but as we neared the bottom of each pint, I realized that may have been a bit generous.

The Dusseldorf Altbier is a medium-bodied brown ale with medium hop bitterness. Its toasted biscuity flavor has real potential up front, but just kind of fades to the land of bland. It's well-balanced, but I would rate it above average at best for the style.

The Three Pines India Pale Ale has a nice floral hoppy aroma—I accidentally wrote hippy when I was taking down notes on my iPod Touch—but doesn't taste overwhelmingly hoppy. Despite this, the hops still dominate to the point that I think it could stand to be a little maltier.

We also asked for, and received, a small sample of their Stone House Coconut Stout, mainly because we were curious. I couldn't taste the coconut at all—although I thought it was pleasantly creamy—but KJ did, so here I introduce you to a new occasional feature of this blog. KJ Says: "It's too flat. I get the coconut, then a little hint of coffee, but there's nothing dancing on my tongue."

I like that description.

As I said, the food was great. We ordered—and shared—the Pizza Rustica, one of their spent grain pizzas, and the Meatloaf Sandwich. The Pizza Rustica was a Greek style that was covered in tasty kalamata olives, feta cheese, roma tomatoes, artichokes, caramelized onions and garlic oil basil pesto. The Meatloaf Sandwich was advertised on the menu as served cold, but we asked for it heated. It was served on Texas toast with chipotle mayonnaise and tabacco [sic] onion petals. We opted to top it off with pepper jack cheese, and it was just fantastic, as was the pizza.

I thought I was only hungry enough for a light lunch, but these dishes did quite the job of coaxing my appetite out of hiding.

Other than the food, the one really positive thing I have to say about the Gilded Otter Brewing Company is that they rotate their beer selection much more frequently than most. Typically, brew pubs feature one or two seasonal beers at a time, but the Gilded Otter is constantly rotating half their menu. While they consistently serve their four standards, the other four on the menu are constantly changing. So, for variety and experimentation in brewing, they get high marks in my book.

I wish I could rate their beers more highly. I've been mostly disappointed by my experiences with brew pubs in the mid-Hudson Valley, and was really expecting this place to stand above the rest. Maybe it was unfair to the Gilded Otter that it was the first new brewery I've visited since my trip to the craft beer capital of the United States, but unfortunately they will simply be lumped in with all the other so-so brew pubs I've visited during my 15 years as an aspiring beer snob.


  1. Charles, choice posts of late.

    Was down in Delaware last week and got a taste of Golden Monkey, on tap, from Victory Brewing (based in PA). One of the best beers I've had of late. Tasted a bit like Le Chouffe to me. I'm not familiar with their other products. The only criticism I could muster was that it was too close the real thing (a Belgain tripel). But that's hardly insightful or useful. It was delicious, impressive, and strong and I want more.

    Victory Brewing is worth looking into if you haven't already.

  2. Thanks Joey. Not sure if I've tried Golden Monkey, but I've certainly had Victory Hop Devil and Hop Wallop. Excellent stuff, particularly the former.

    You should have checked out Dogfish Head while you were down there.

  3. We go to Rehoboth every year. In the past we always made it a point to eat at Dogfish Head but we're often disappointed with the restaurant. The year we made it a point not to eat there but consistently fill up on the 60 and 90 minute IPA that's available in nearly every eatery in town and is consistently fresh (for obvious reasons).

    We brought home a dozen or so Raison D'Etres (my wife's favorite Dogfish Head offering).

    I like how they offer growlers. Perfect for a group of friends looking to share some fresh, good beer at the beach.

  4. Growlers of Dogfish, sweet. I need to head down to Rehoboth at some point. I love Raison D'Etres, but I think I'd opt for 60 Minute at the beach.

  5. Nice to see what non-locals think of the Otter. I agree that the food is excellent, but my taste in beer is fairly narrow (a limited selection of wheat beers tickle my tongue, but nothing else elicits excitement) so I've never been sure if they had decent beer or not. Next time you're in town, stop into Bacchus if you just want a selection of a hundred or so old familiars - they don't brew, but they have plenty on tap and in stock.

    Incidentally, if you had typed "hippy" you would have been saying something about the IPA's pelvic width rather than its social philosophy. I'm a writer living in New Paltz, so I need to know the difference between "hippy" and "hippie" for reasons of survival!

  6. Thanks Terence. I remember Bacchus as the place in town that I used to go to for good craft beer, being originally from just across the river. I wanted to stop there as well, but didn't quite find the time.

    Thanks also for pointing out the distinction between hippie and hippy, in a very clever way I might add. Even though I used it correctly in the first paragraph, it may have been by luck or by accident.

    Thanks for reading.