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Sunday, May 13, 2012

National Craft Beer Week in Ithaca, NY

Chris Williams, Rogues' Harbor Brewing Co.'s Brew Guru
It's National Craft Brew Week and we love craft beer here at the Rogues' Harbor Inn. We love it so much we craft brew our own beer. And by we, I mean our brew staff. Chris Williams is our Brew Guru and Alex Schwartz is our Asst. Brew Guru. They plan, weigh, grind, boil, brew, chill, ferment, filter, carbonate and keg it all. Then we pour it right here. That's fresh beer; it's a wonderful thing.
We're celebrating National Craft Brew Week and our own craft brews by the Rogues' Harbor Brewing Company. When you stop in this week Monday - Friday, May 14 - 18, and order a Rogues' Craft Brew Flight we'll give you 50% off any appetizer! The flights this week have our: Cayuga Cream Ale, Route 34 Red Ale, East Shore Pale Ale and Brewer's Choice Black IPA. If you find a favorite, we pour pints and large 22 oz mugs, and... we even  fill 2 pint growlers to go. So take a growler home and watch a movie or even a Rogues' Harbor Inn short film about our microbrewery.
Chris is a talented brewer and film maker. I should say screen writer and director as well. He writes, films, directs, edits and stars in our Rogues' Harbor Inn videos. The first film talks about our flagship brews: Cayuga Cream Ale and Route 34 Red Ale. The second visits a New York State hop grower, Pompey Mountain Hop Farm. The fifth and most recent is my favorite. We lost a batch of beer earlier this year; and we're not sure what went wrong, but is was not good. So we filmed the funeral. Other staff members pitched in with writing and bit parts. We had a lot fun making the films and anxiously awaiting the final product- just like our beers, really.There are five so far. I hear there plans for more...
Rogues' Harbor House Beers
Rogues' Harbor Brewing Co. Brews with Local Hops
Making CO2 at Rogues' Harbor Brewing Co.
Brewer's Confession
A Brew's Last Rights
In honor of National Craft Beer Week have a Rogues' Harbor Brewing Co. beer flight and celebrate the independent spirit of craft brewing in the Finger Lakes. Share a half price appetizer to go with it. Maybe try a few other cool breweries close by. There are several good microbreweries to visit within 15 minutes of Ithaca: Rogues' Harbor Brewing Co., Band Wagon Brew Pub, Ithaca Beer Co, Scale House and Bacchus Brewing. That's one per day Monday to Friday. You can do it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cayuga Wine Trail Leads Right to the Rogues' Harbor Inn

Riesling Grapes on Cayuga Lake

Several Finger Lakes' trails lead right to our door. The FLX Beer Trail and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail are our favorites. Even though we brew our own beer, we're pretty partial to Cayuga Lake wineries (our brew guru is too, shhh...).
We wear our favoritism on our sleeve right next to our heart. Our wine list features New York Sate wines exclusively (even our cooking wines are locally sourced), with a focus on the Finger Lakes, especially Cayuga- our home sweet home. The Cayuga Wine Trail is the first organized and longest running wine trail in the U.S. and follows the path of an ancient Native American trail. With 17 members (15 wineries, 1 cidery and 1 meadery) there's a lot to sample. We do love to sample; so Rogues' offers a Cayuga Wine flight with four tastes:  Sheldrake Point Riesling, Treleaven Chardonnay, Swedish Hill Cabernet Franc and Americana Baco Noir. All together, we offer 34 New York State wines on our list and 20 of them are Cayuga. We really do love them.
Our latest additions to our spring wine list are Hosmer's Lemberger and Goose Watch's Traminette. The Lemberger is a nice robust, on the dry side red. I like it with our Bleu Prime Sirloin or Wild Mushroom Ravioli. The Traminette is a little drier and spicier than a Riesling and I love it with our Finger Lakes Cheese Board. My personal favorites from Cayuga lake wineries are Sheldrake Point's Riesling and Treleaven's Chardonnay. They epitomize Finger Lakes' white wine for me: fresh, a little flowery, and very food friendly.
I've meandered to all 17 of the wine trail's members and it's a gorgeous journey.  Glorious vistas, friendly winery staff, world class wine- it's all so wonderful. May is Riesling Month and the Finger Lakes are known for their Rieslings. Riesling grapes thrive in our cool climate and glaciated landscape. There are several stand outs in my humble opinion: Sheldrake Point (obviously), Treleaven, Buttonwood, and Thirsty Owl. Take a drive along the Trail- it follows the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway which was recently honored with a place in the Top Ten Road Trips in the US by Yahoo Travel. The top ten! and we're right there on the byway. Hooray! No one at the Rogues' Harbor Inn was surprised by this. We know we live in an  incredible region. The Heart of the Finger Lakes- glass of Riesling in hand, toes in the water...it's that good.

My Personal Favorite, Sheldrake Point Riesling on the "Rocks"

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Return of the Black IPA

Black IPA from the Rogues' Harbor Brewing Co.
Last year when we brewed the Black IPA we were nervous about how it would be received. It's a tricky style that for some is nothing but a novelty. It has a lot of traction on the West coast but here in the East it hadn't gained the acknowledgment that other styles had. We wanted to take that challenge though and see if we could bring something new to the local brew scene that would challenge beer drinkers perception of what a dark beer can be. What surprised us was how amazingly well it was received. It was one of our fastest selling Brewer's Choice beers.

This year we decided we wanted to make it again. It has been asked for time and time again and we'd hate to dissapoint our fans. Even though it was popular we didn't want to rest on our laurels and we felt that there was some room for improvement. One area where we heard mixed comments was in the area of hopping. Some people felt it was a pretty hoppy beer while others felt it was a little under-hopped. Black IPA can be tricky as you do want a little bit of the malt character to come through. While some breweries use nearly flavorless dark malts to simply make a regular IPA black, the best examples have a touch of roast along with the big citrusy American hops that give it a deeper character. Too many bittering or flavoring hops can overwhelm the characters of the malt. Still we wanted to give it a note of something we felt was lacking.

This lacking element was aroma. The first time we made the beer it had almost no hop aroma and very little malt on the nose. This time around we wanted to fix that problem by generously dry hopping the beer. Lots of Cascade hops from Pompey Mountain Hop Farm were added in the brite tank (where the filtered beer gets carbonated and conditioned prior to kegging it). These hops don't contribute much to flavor or bitterness of the beer, but they help give the beer a bold hoppy aroma. Lots of pine and citrus notes that are characteristic of American IPA's. We think you're going to love it this year and we hope that you come in and give it a try. We begin pouring it Thursday, May 3. Get it while it lasts...