‘CuseQuest! Part 2: Beer Day – Dino BBQ and Middle Ages Brewery

Day two of the ‘CuseQuest happened to be my birthday. The Lady Friend woke me up in the morning with a very loving, intimate and special surprise in bed.

Beers you sickos! Get your minds out of the gutter.

Left to right, they were:

Peak Organic Hop Noir black IPA (drank it Sat night; didn’t make it back to MA)

Stone IPA (also didn’t make it back. Barely made it past breakfast.)

Brewdog Punk IPA (saw this one on James May Drinks to Britain)

Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin (for my birthday champagne tradition)

Fuller’s 2010 Vintage Ale (an aged ale which is nicely bottle conditioning further at this very moment)

Glenmorangie 10yo Scotch Whisky (’nuff said)

*sniff sniff* I’m so proud. She’s learned so much!
I woke up and there was a card and the champagne sitting on the bedside table. Apparently she’s been honing her ninja skills because I never noticed her doing it. The rest of the goodies were presented in a giant party bag of happiness.

The SquirrelFarts birthday card. Yikes.

We trundled downstairs and spent the morning with my fun uncle (funcle). He’s got a couple cats that roam about (Frank, short for Frankenstein, and Devil, critters numbered one and two on our trip. More critters to come.) We chatted and walked around, checking out his yardwork and car collection. I didn’t mention the car collection? Yeah…

This is why he’s the funcle. Click to embiggenate.

Left to right again:

– BMW 325xi (daily driver)

– 1986 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

– 1995(?) E36 BMW M3

– 1967 VW Bug (dark blue, lurking in the shadows. He restored this one)

– 1970(?) VW Bug (red)

– 2006 Porsche 997 911 Carrera S

– BMW 328xi (another daily driver)

– 1971 VW Bug (green)

– FAR RIGHT 2006 Toyota Corolla. The Phantom. One of these things is not like the others.

Yeah. Too many choices. We were going to take the ’86 911 (my fav) for a spin, but it had some issue with the battery/alternator, so we left it to charge on a Battery Tender and took the ’06 911 instead while Lady Friend went for a jog. Holy rocket ship. We blasted over to visit my aunt’s house in Jamesville, and got there 7 minutes before we left. It’s so fast that we traveled BACK IN TIME. I think. My poor 944, Elsa, feels like the Flintstones’ car by comparison.

Not a DeLorean.

Ok. Back to alcohol. Our first stop of the day was the legendary Dinosaur BBQ restaurant, a Syracuse hotspot since opening in 1988. It’s much like Redbones in Somerville’s Davis Square: great food, and a surprisingly good beer list. Dino boasted 21 drafts and 48 bottles to choose from. They will do a four-beer flight, but we had more tastings to get to later so I went with a pint of Ithaca Cascazilla. Floral hop with sickly sweet malt aroma. Tasted smooth, not a lot of carbonated bite. Slight piney hop, finished malty but the bitter hop lingered. Very good. I thought it was an IPA, and found out later in the trip that it’s actually a hoppy Red Ale. Very interesting and tasty. We stuffed our gullets with some good bbq (Lady Friend was probably the only person in the place to order a side of fruit) and rallied out of a growing food coma for our next stop, Middle Ages Brewing.

Pig heads on the wall, jammed packed for lunch on Sat. Dino is that kinda place.

Middle Ages Brewing Company was one of the few breweries in/around Syracuse that I was interested in visiting. Again, when I was a student at SU, I didn’t know about such things, so I was going in fresh. I’d occasionally seen some of their bombers in MA craft brew stores (Double Wench Ale is particularly, um, eye-catching) but had never tried any.

Pictured: eye-catching label design.

Tasting hours are 11:30-5p on Saturday, (tours by appointment only) so we wandered in and did a sampling of seven beers.

Apricot Ale 4.5% abv
Nose: Slight fruit aroma.
Taste: Light tasting, similar flavor to Magic Hat #9 (also an apricot-flavored ale).

Wit (Belgian-style wheat beer) 4.6% abv
Nose: No discernable aroma
Taste: Slightly spiced, followed by a mellow fruitiness (apricot again?)

Middle Ages Pale Ale ?% abv
Nose: Slight fruit again.
Taste: Hop bitter, followed by a copper metallic, as in some red ales. Not too sharp, however.

13th Double Wit ?% abv
Nose: None. We really struggled to get much of ANY aroma out of the whole line of brews.
Taste: Fruity once more, but not too sweet. More of a wheat sweet. That rhymes! Are you still reading this?

Old Marcus Ale strong ESB 6.5% abv
Nose: Are beers supposed to smell?
Taste: Sharp hop bitter. Balanced malt, with some metallic aftertaste.

ImPaled Ale IPA 6.5% abv
Nose: Beers don’t smell ‘cuz they don’t have noses!
Taste: A very SHARP hop bitter. Again, slight metallic after, but could just be the hop.

The Duke porter 6.5% abv
Nose: Very slight roasted waft.
Taste: Coffee roast flavor, not too bitter. A bit creamy but not too sweet either. Very well balanced and drinkable. This was pretty much the only one that both Lady Friend and I enjoyed.

The brewery even looks kinda like a castle!
Also of note: unusual blue sky in Syracuse. Frightening to behold.

I really think most, if not all, of their beers are of a British style, which tends to be more bitter and sharp, unlike the citrus sweet hops of a West Coast style ale. While none of them were unpleasant, many were a unremarkable. The Wit didn’t have much going on, while the Double Wit started to have some character to it. The pale ale and IPA were both of the bitter hop variety, with some piney flavors that perhaps accounted for the metallic tastes I was getting. The Duke porter was quite good, and I’ll look for it locally. Middle Ages is distributed in MA, however only in bottles, as they own their kegs (instead of using MicroStar) and have problems getting them back if they’re shipped too far. We didn’t do the tour of the brewery, but they seem to offer a large variety of beers, over 15 by my count. I didn’t really get to see if their operation is that large, or if they just rotate batches quickly.

Middle Ages seems to have a large selection of merchandise, which I suppose is easier when you have that many beers to advertise. The Lady Friend snagged a 12-pack sampler and a pint glass for my collection. They also had the fun addition of a cat in a basket, bringing the Critter Count up to three so far. Judging from his lack of interest in the tasting room visitors and his constant yawning, being a brewery cat must be a terribly rough life. Imagine, only sleeping 14 hours a day! He was quite receptive and appreciative of petting, so while I was disturbing his nap, I asked the bartender if nearby Syracuse Suds was worth visiting, drawing a shocked reaction from several people. Apparently, they brew using malt extract (the horror!) and their beers aren’t great. According to their website, their original brewmaster retired at the start of this year, and I wonder if that has something to do with it. Time permitting, I would have liked to check it out for myself, but we decided to skip it and head directly to Empire Brewpub.

Cat in a basket! Critter Count = 3.

Only a couple days left to vote for me!
I even have pictures of wenches and cats in this post!

If you don’t vote, Basket Cat cries a tiny kitty tear.
Why would you make Basket Cat so sad?

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