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January 10, 2011

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Julia - last paragraph discusses tasting the wines to determine the beer of the year.. just letting you know.

Interesting list.. any chance you list all the breweries you sampled beers from so we could see the wide array that NY has to offer?

it also says something when Southampton can upstage NY's resident Belgian brewery Ommegang.

I know one thing, after this tasting you will all feel pretty good, there's some alcohol in that list to be sure..

Excellent list! Very excited to try these. I am already putting together some NY cheeses to bring out this weekend. This will be fun as a pairing exercise!

Aaron - yes, cheese pairing will be a ton of fun! Can't wait to see what you bring. Beer and cheese is possibly my very favorite food/beverage combo and I know you'll be bringing some kickass stuff.

Randy - thanks for your comment! Of course it's impossible to taste every single great beer that New York has to offer, and I can't wait to see what 2011 brings. For a sampling of the breweries I have tried this year, however, click on "Julia Burke" under categories and check out my reviews. I try to review at least one beer from each brewery I encounter, and rotate my coverage geographically.

Ommegang has certainly made a name for itself as the "Belgian" brewery of New York, and they make some outstanding beers. Both Tripel Perfection and Cup O'Kyndness were runner-up finalists. However, Southampton's Abbot 12 truly blew me away with its authenticity and complexity. I invite you to taste for yourself - I think a side-by-side tasting with Ommegang's comparable effort, Three Philosophers, l will remove any doubt from your mind. Throw in a true Belgian quad as well for a really fun tasting.

Thanks for your interest in New York beer. Look for expanded and improved beer coverage in 2011!

Randy: The typos was mine, not Julia's, by the way.

I'm looking forward to tasting these. I've had three of them in the past, but not the other two. And while I agree that Ommegang makes some outstanding beers (including one of my go-to brews, Hennepin) there are certainly other breweries of note making Belgian-style ales. Southampton's Phil Markowski is actually known for his Belgian/Farmhouse styles...though they do make a wide array.

Some of you know the bounds of beer geekiness so I really appreciate an article like this. My apologies for not having read Julia's prior beer reviews but I will look them over.

Given that Three Philosophers is hands down one of my top 5 beers ever I think I shall have to give Southampton's Abbot 12 a shot!

In the past I've had a Southampton product (I don't remember which one) and I was underwhelmed. I am sure that I have subconsciously avoided their line up based upon a single judgment. I find that I do this quite often and its usually because of the sheer amount of choices. Does this happen to anyone else?

I'd love to try the Capt. Lawrence. I've had the Smoke from the Oak Wine (Cab Sav and Merlot barrels used) and it is outstanding (although in dire need of aging). Capt. Lawrence makes some great beer but much of it never makes it outside of their immediate area which unfortunately is too far for us Rochester folks.

Randy,

I know exactly what you mean about avoiding a brewery after a bad experience. After all, craft beer isn't always cheap, and as you said when there are so many good choices it's hard to convince yourself to take a chance on a 20 oz. or 6-pack from a brewery that hasn't delivered in the past.

I try to give every New York brewery unlimited chances to impress me, since it's my job to review the good and bad, but there are definitely certain non-NY producers who I've simply stopped trying. A certain psychedelic-themed Vermont brewery (that just went macro) comes to mind as consistently seeming to put more effort into gimmicky marketing than quality beer. Will I stop tasting their stuff at events? No, but I've stopped dropping my hard-earned cash on it.

Some of my local shops have a make-your-own-6-pack option with a great selection of single 12 oz. bottles. This is a good way to give an untested or spotty producer a shot without breaking the bank, and I hope to see more retailers implementing the practice.

I do wish Cpt. Lawrence and many small NY breweries distributed more widely, but that's the fun of beer traveling - you get to discover beers you can't get at home! Plus, I don't feel too bad for you, since you live in Rochester - my new favorite beer town :)
http://www.lenndevours.com/2010/06/a-diamond-in-the-rough-exploring-rochesters-beer-scene-.html

Julia - indeed. I was just in Blue Monk last week. Overall I enjoyed it but I couldn't do it more than 2-3 times a year.

A good example is the St. Bernardus Abt 12 listed at $8 for a 12oz pour. The bottle is $10.99 at Wegmans. While I can absolutely understand the margin in a bar it gets a bit much at $8 pours. Still, a nice selection.

Clearly I love the Rochester beer scene.. so much that I started an entire site/group dedicated to its promotion. I'm glad you like it here and I do remember reading your article on Rochester. The suggestions there were spot on and there are other very good watering holes in the city as well.

I know who you are referring to and they are possibly the reason I have adopted such a quick judgment bias. I've disliked every beer I've ever had and like you I keep on trying them at festivals on the off chance I will change.

Having grown up in Buffalo I was always partial to Buffalo Tap Room & Grill.. the beer scene escalated a little after I left though.

Randy, what's your Roch beer site? I'd love to check it out! That's very cool, and I've been visiting Rochester more frequently so I'd definitely be up for checking out a few new places in addition to the ones I've written about.

Completely apropos of our conversation about brewery bias, last night I joined an assembly of beer geeks for blind tasting for the Great Lakes Brewing News beer reviews. When an IPA that I kind of dug turned out to be Magic Hat HIPA, I was amazed, as were most of the members of the group, hop-heads all. It was a weird coincidence that just goes to show why blind tasting is important.

Buffalo Tap Room didn't wow me last time I went, but that was two years ago. I'll have to pay another stop.

Julia - www.rocbeer.com

I haven't been there in quite awhile that's just where I went when I lived in Buffalo. It could have changed up a bit as all things tend to do.

Randy
@LTS on twitter

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