Brewery Reviews: northern U.S.

Not sure how this has happened but I am very far behind on our brewery posts…. Oh yea it probably had something to do with spending a bunch of time mostly out of cell phone range with no internet connection. With so much catching up to do this post is huge and there will be another one about Canadian breweries we visited.

Roy Pitz, Chambersburg, PA

Roy Pitz Tasting Room

A small operation you have probably never heard of. For those of you who are in the northern Virginia area and on the way to Raystown Lake to mountain bike, stop in, it’s well worth the stop. We had the pleasure of trying everything they had on hand and getting our growler filled. Highlights are Ludwigs Revenge, Daddy Fat Sacks, Best Blonde and, Chicken Legs. Ludwigs Revenge is a dark German lager with German sourced ingredients. It has got a ton of flavor for a lager and flavor-wise is more like an ale. It’s a tasty and unique creation. I think this is what we picked for our growler fill. Daddy Fat Sacks is an IPA – it’s a strong IPA, but in my book its not over the top hoppy. It’s aged with big sacks of hops aged in for this part of the process. I liked it a lot. Best Blonde is a light and crisp beer, good for a very hot day, it is a very good blonde ale but blonde ales are not a personal favorite. Chicken Legs is a good old fashion stout, a classic really, flavorful like a stout should be with out much bitterness at all.  One unique seasonal beer that Roy Pitz is known for is the Lovitz Watermelon Lager, flavored with fresh watermelon.  While I dislike fruit in beer as a general rule, this one wasn’t bad and could be refreshing on a hot summer day.

Birreria, New York, NY

Birreria sign

This one is our most recent visit from just last week while we were visiting Sharon’s sister, Nora in New York City. It’s very New York, trendy with higher than average prices, but don’t let this deter you. The roof top patio is a nice escape from the filthy crowded streets below you. They brew four beers at a time and are connected with Dogfish Head, as the President of DH is helping the brewer here get going. I sampled two of the three beers available while were there, Wanda and Lisa. I had a full pint of Wanda which is a chestnut ale. Its a rich chestnut ale that is sweet and nutty. The Lisa has a big head and lots of carbonation. It reminded me of a light Belgian beer.

Thanks to Sharon’s mom for the tip to check this place out.  She read about it in this recent Washington Post article.

birreria seating

Marquette Harbor Brewery, Marquette, MI

brewery sign with view of Lake Superior

brewery sign with view of Lake Superior

Yes those are blueberries in the bottom of that beer (see picture of sampler below). I am normally not a fan of fruit in beer but this tried hard to win me over. Its also noteworthy that the fruit is added to the beer after its poured kind of like a slice of orange or lemon on a wheat beer. The result is much more subtle.

Truthfully, neither Sharon nor I remember much more about the beer here.  The brewery is part of a restaurant overlooking Lake Superior which is probably its most noteworthy feature.  A nice place to sample some local beers and relax with a great view.

Sampler at Marquette Harbor Brewery, Marquette, MI

Kettlehouse Brewery: Missoula, MT

Kettlehouse Tasting Room

The Cold Smoke Scotch ale is the stand out here, no wonder why it has won several awards. It’s hard to say what I really like about it, but I can say for sure I wanted more of it. It is one of those beers you could just drink all day long and not want anything else. In true Missoula fashion they had plastic Nalgene growlers for river trips available. They also have cool hand made growlers that are works of art by local potters. Another oddity is their Ginseng Pale Ale. Missoula is home to the well known mycology expert and proponent of sustainable forest products, Larry Evans. We had read an Outdoor magazine article on our way to Missoula and were surprised to see him mentioned on the beer description.  Larry literally had tons of ginseng sitting around so its only natural that someone started brewing with it. This stuff apparently has a cult following which I attribute to the ginseng buzz, since it was not my favorite. I also sampled one of their Old Bong Water beers with hemp in it.  It had a nutty flavor.

Beer list at Kettlehouse

Northern Ales Brewery, Kettle Falls, Washington

northern ales sampler

the sampler at Northern Ales

Sharon here, I am going to step in and review the last brewery, Northern Ales, which was a favorite of mine.  Northern Ales reminds me strongly of a small town Pennsylvania brewery even though it is days of driving away, in the small eastern Washington town of Kettle Falls.

Smelters Ash Imperial stout and a brat

Smelters Ash Imperial stout and a brat

It’s industrial looking, nothing fancy.  You can order from a small menu featuring sausages.  There are peanut shells all over the floor.  The delivery entrance stays open, so you have fresh air as you eat and drink and a view of the back alley.  And the beer tastes great.  They have a good variety here, with 10 brews on the sampler ranging from a classic lager to a dark imperial stout.  They seemed to specialize in the darker ales, with 2 smoked porters to try.  We both liked the Smoked North Porter and the Smelter’s Ash Imperial Stout.  Jay enjoyed the Honey Basil Ale, but I was weirded out by basil in beer.  Another good choice was the Highlander Scotch Ale, which was just a classic smooth scotch.

Oh, and the bratwurst is AWESOME.


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