Monday, September 5, 2011
Over the Labor Day weekend, my wife, Doreen, and I visited New Paltz, NY with the intention of trying some of the great food, wine and beer available in that area. The full write up will be forth coming. For now, let me make you aware of one of the best beer bars in the Hudson Valley.
Bacchus sits just off the main drag in downtown New Paltz. It was opened by a self-proclaimed hippie in 1974 who, along with his wife Linda, still runs it today. Linda met us with a smile when we walked in and made us feel as though we were sitting down in her own home. The décor is funky like the rest of this college town with sharks and moose heads hanging from the walls.
Bacchus was the Roman god of wine, but here beer rules. The beer list is endless. I have never seen such an extensive menu of craft and foreign beers; almost 500 in all.
The bar maid, Kate, took our orders: a flight of 4 different tap beers for me and a Sea Dog Raspberry Wheat for Doreen. The Sea Dog brewed in Maine had a crisp sweet taste. I would put it up there with the best fruit beers I’ve tried this summer. My flight consisted of: Blue point’s Rasta Rye, Smuttynose Brown Ale, Sierra Nevada Porter and Lake Placid Ubu Ale. My goal was to experience the local flavors of the area so I ordered a pint of the Ubu as my pre-lunch beverage. Ubu is named after a dog the brewer kept as a pet in the Adirondack brewery. This English strong ale pours dark red and has a nice caramel aroma. Doreen and I both agreed that the maltiness of this brew hid the 7% abv very well.
Kate is an energetic grad student at the SUNY college right down the road. Doreen commented on her stylish, short haircut and Kate explained that she recently shaved her head bald for St. Baldrick’s day. This fund raiser, which I have taken part in for 6 years, raises money for research into childhood cancers. I am usually accompanied by hundreds of other guys who don’t mind shaving their heads for a good cause. It is rare to find a woman who is brave enough to take it all off. When asked what it was like Kate said, “It was freeing. I felt like a weight was taken off my head. Even the sensation of feeling the air on my scalp was a rush”.
We had lunch on the outdoor patio off the back of the building. After the huge breakfast at our B & B that morning, our appetites were minimal. So I ordered a bowl of chili and Doreen got the black bean soup. The beans in the soup were pureed, which took a little getting used to. The beans in the chili, on the other hand, were hearty and accompanied by ample meat, cheese, sour cream and chives. It was such a large, filling meal that I had to take half the bowl to go.
I found room though to order one more local beer from their list. Keegan’s Old Capital Ale is brewed in nearby Kingston, NY. Kingston is the old capital of New York. This American blond ale was flavorful with just the right amount of bitterness. I could taste lemon up front and it had a crisp, clean taste that was perfect for session drinking on a summer day. I drank it as I walked around the bar, which has another outdoor eating area off the front of the building and a large pool hall adjacent to the main bar room.
This is a “must see” for any beerophile. It would be have been fun, had we been there for a longer stay, to work our way through their long list of craft beers. As it is, I’ll have to settle for a taste of Bacchus and a commitment to return soon.