Taste New York is the state's effort to link consumers to the best products made and grown right here in New York. I decided it was an important mission to showcase one region in New York that really embraces this effort by offering some of the best craft beer made in the state: The Whiteface Region.
In general, skiers and snowboarders are usually pretty down with craft beer and they're known to frequent brewpubs and craft breweries on a regular basis. This clientele is also supportive of locally made products, so when skiing in different states, they will seek out the craft beer from the regions they are in.
But, do these mountain town restauranteurs get it? The local gas stations? The small, independently-owned hotels?
Well, in the Whiteface Region they most certainly do.
The North Pole General Store, which is part of the North Pole Inn, has the largest selection of craft beer in the area — their sign proclaims as much. I needed to get in and see for myself. I was very impressed with the selection. New York state is well represented, and the inn really might have the largest selection I have seen anywhere. I am not speaking of quantity, I am speaking of variety and quality. It is a very well thought out selection for sure.
When you walk into this camp-style store, there is a large cooler on the right; a craft beer drinker's paradise. Mix-and-match six packs are a great way to make sure you get a few different styles — there are cans and bottles available from all over the region. There is even a growler filling station with local craft beer on tap.
I'm going to say, this is pretty great for a campground, the tier selection would rival even some great larger craft beer centers. There is a great selection in stock, and it is rotated on a regular basis so you can guarantee it will be fresh and the seasonal brews will be available. This place gets an A+ for regional craft beer.
Whiteface Mountain features many local beers in the Cloudspin Lounge. Whiteface Mountain is also encouraging people to support the local products in their Taste NY Cafe. This cafe is all New York, all the time. Wines, craft beer, and local ingredients are used in their recipes. Craft beer at the mountain is reflecting the Think New York, Drink New York theme that the New York State Craft Brewers Association is encouraging.
There would have been a time when craft beer would have been impossible to find in the Whiteface Region because they were hard to find anywhere. Now with over 400 breweries in New York you do not have to go to a craft beer bar to find New York craft beers. Still some places build a business around it.
Pourman's Tap House, with twelve beers on tap, is a great craft beer bar that also features a fridge full of beer that is primarily from the region. Most of their craft beer here is on tap, which I think is a great decision. I personally never understand why a Budweiser would be on tap and a craft beer in a bottle. Most people enjoying a Budweiser don't mind if it is on tap, in the bottle, or in a can. However, craft drinkers prefer a draft. This is one reason I love Pourmans — craft beer on tap. Taking it to the next level of service. I also really love the pizza, but that's another story.
Surprise in the Wilderness
Already impressed with this region, it was the quaint, woodsy restaurant called The Wilderness Inn that really surprised me. Hikers, mountain bikers, skiers, and snowboarders can be found hanging out at the bar enjoying drinks and dinner. The moment I opened the doors I knew I had found a gem —but do they have craft beer? Well, to my surprise they did, they had a chalkboard with their beer listings and there were at least two local crafts available, represented with a local beer coaster to boot. Delicious, my draft was served at the correct temperature (40-42 degrees, so you can enjoy the fresh flavors) and poured into the appropriate beer glass.
The Little Supermarket is known for having a great selection — of everything. For a small town grocery store you certainly can get most everything here. But how about craft beer? Yup. Cases of local craft beer are available. They can be purchased warm or you can grab a six pack from the beer cooler. While you're here, you should absolutely grab one of the Little Super's famous sandwiches to go with that local beer.
R.F. McDougall's: A cozy bar that sits right below the famous Hungry Trout Restaurant and along the Ausable River. A classy place to go for a pub style menu. This is the place where you will run into a lot of locals, both behind the bar and sitting at the bar.
"What's on tap?" I ask, and the bartender immediately leads off with the most recent craft beer. Their selection changes, he says, but it's always local. I order a glass and he begins to tell me all about it. He knows the brewer and the care put into it. Respect, he said, is what he has for a good beer. I agree. Craft beer love for this pub for sure.
High Falls Gorge is one of the most beautiful spots in the region. Offering scenic walks in any season, you can enjoy the outdoor adventure and take in the views of the waterfalls, and then head into the cafe for a snack and a drink. The views from inside are just as nice. Once again, the beer selection was impressive — three taps of regional beer.
A small cafe right on the edge of the Ausable River serving nothing but craft beer on tap. My assessment? This is the type of place I will go when I need to sit and enjoy a beer.
Beautiful, fresh mountain air and fresh, local craft beer — that's what you'll find in this mountain community that totally gets supporting small business. Here's to craft beer in the Whiteface Region!