July 19, 2012

Don't have much to report about this DNO, except that while I was out of state, the guys organized this one on their own. That really warms the cockles of my heart! If I understand things correctly, Kevin and Dan were joined by "P" and David.

The research for is ongoing! In August, Dan and I took time out from our family camping trip at Lake Taughannock State Park to investigate things over at Seneca Lake. We'd sampled the beer from Wagner Valley Brewing Company at local festivals such as those at Governor's Island and at TAP-NY. Now it was time to try it out straight from the tap!

The brewery/winery is located in beautifully situated vineyards on the eastern shores of Seneca lake. There's a fantastic view from the oversized deck. Once inside, there are three distinct areas: the store (naturally), the wine bar, and in the back, the brewpub.

I would be kidding myself to think the beer is the main draw here. The merch in the store is 96% wine related. Given the amount of land devoted to viticulture, it's unlikely they grow their own hops and barley. Still, a draft is a draft, and the draft beer here, while unexceptional, was still refreshing on this hot August day.

The beer flight offers tastes of their six standard brews:

  1. Mill Street Pilsener (4.3%)
  2. Grace House Honey Wheat (3.8%)
  3. Dockside Amber Lager (5.1%)
  4. Wagner IPA (6.2%)
  5. Caywood Station Oatmeal Stout (5.5%)
  6. Sled Dog Doppelbock (8.5%)

Heartland Brewery,
35 Union Square W.
New York NY 10002
(212) 645-3400

Wagner Valley Brewery Co.,
9322 New York Route 414,
Lodi, NY 14860
(607) 582-6450

Four guys got to drink at Heartland all night and all I got was this lousy little picture!

Wagner Brewery & Winery, on Seneca Lake in Lodi, NY

Inside Wagner's Brewpub

The Pilsener and the Honey Wheat were lightweight, as one might expect. I prefer beer with alcohol-by-volumes in the 5-6% range: too high, and the alcohol overpowers the beer; too low, and the beer lacks character. The Dockside was better and the Wagner IPA was damn respectable! The Caywood Oatmeal Stout was my favorite, with nice caramel notes but not overly sweet. The Sled Dog Doppelbock was also really good. A bit too sweet and potent for my tastes but certainly a fine quaff. It's the kind of beer that would appeal to someone coming here for the wine: complex, not at all bitter and quite a kick.

The kids were also welcome here and they slugged down a pitcher of Wagner's fine draft root beer (non-alcoholic, of course!). Although it was not available during our visit, Wagner does make a seasonal beer that I really like: the Sugar House Maple Porter. Look for it in late February and early March.