Category Archives: CRAFT BEER

My Favorite Southern Tier Beer

Today was quite warm and felt like an appropriate end to August here in Western New York.

Tonight though I’m sipping a fall beer and thinking of the coming season:

Harvest is easily my favorite beer by Southern Tier. Some people fiend for Pumking and others I know like to nurse Old Man Winter on long, cold, snowy nights. But for me, few of their beers taste better than a Harvest — especially outdoors as the summer weather cools and autumn arrives.

And what makes Harvest even better!? A shot of Jameson right in the glass:





Deschutes Brewery’s Fresh-Squeezed IPA


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Notes From The Farm To Table

Last night I tended bar at the Athenaeum’s Farm-To-Table Dinner.

Although I was tending bar, I was only making three specialty cocktails — all from a limited menu of drinks which used locally-sourced ingredients:

The meal was prepared by Chef Travis Bensink of the Athenaeum Hotel’s Heirloom Restaurant and Chef Julie Scheira of Forte in Jamestown.

I feel really lucky today to have been a part of the event yesterday. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people. The chefs helped me throughout the process, from the first brain-storming sessions to the last-minute details of setting up. My wife was super supportive and helped me throughout the several hours of set-up yesterday afternoon.

There are a lot of great local businesses which specialize in certain food items, and it was nice to see the spotlight on them. For myself, I was just really happy to have a chance to challenge myself and work within a different set of parameters doing stuff that’s a little atypical of traditional bar service.

But enough blathering. Here are a few more photos from the event:

One of the courses came paired with a beer from Five and 20 Spirits & Brewery:


In addition to the theee cocktails I was making before the dinner, I did create a cocktail to pair with the chicken & waffles course.

I’ve got to give a big thanks to the Southern Tier Brewing Company for giving us a firkin of their one-off kettle sour beer, which used all local ingredients.

The beer was so tart and funky that I wanted to use it in a rum sour, which I made with blackstrap rum, lemon juice, lime juice, falernum syrup, simple syrup and, of course, a hefty pour of the kettle sour beer from Southern Tier Brewing Company.



IPA Simple Syrup

When I woke up this morning, I had the itch to make beer cocktails tonight — so I reduced some IPAs and made simple syrup.

I’ll be making drinks with these simple syrups tonight only at Forte.


The first one I made was, of course, Southern Tier.

I also had a bottle of Sierra Nevada’s new single hop IPA — the Idaho 7 varietal.

According to Sierra Nevada, this newly developed hop has a fruit-forward nose. Expect complex fruity aromas of orange and apricot with hints of black tea-like character and a pleasant fresh herbal bouquet. 

Sierra Nevada kicks is doing a whole series of IPAs this year, all exploring different hopping methods: single hop, fresh hop, wet hop and wild hop.

Beer Simple Syrup

Want to make your own beer simple syrup?

Read more about it online herehere and here.

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A Sunday Tour At Southern Tier

Today is Cinco de Mayo.

I should be writing about tequila, but instead I’m going to recap my Sunday tour of the Southern Tier Brewing Company.

So crack open a bottle of Phin & Matt’s and pour a shot of Patron Silver!

The tour was an educational group outing for all the staff at the bar where I work. And it was appreciated by all of us at Forte!

It’s nice to have a world class, internationally-renowned brewery in our back yard.

The tour of Southern Tier’s facility really puts things in perspective, as you learn about exactly how much raw product it takes to make so much beer — grains, water, hops, malt and everything else.

And in this photo below? With the beer being aged in barrels!? It’s something dark and gingery we were told! Sounds like a cocktail I know!  
Southern Tier’s brewery at Stoneman Park in Lakewood is the only place in Chautauqua County you can stand underneath 22,000 gallons of IPA.

Or maybe the only place in Western New York? I don’t know of another regional brewery that makes beer in such bulk amounts.

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Five & 20 Spirits

Today my wife and I were back out at antique shops and wineries.

Seeing a pattern in these posts?

While our day trip didn’t net me another vintage cocktail book, I did get a tour of Mazza Winery’s Five & 20 Spirits:


Five & 20 Spirits is located at Mazza’s Chautauqua Cellars location on Route 20 in Westfield. The site houses the company’s Christian Carl brand still (and will soon be the site of a new, larger still, we learned).

My wife’s parents met us in the tasting room where there was not only wine and liquor to sample, but also Five & 20’s brand-new beer offerings.

I’ve tasted the company’s bourbon before, so today I headed straight for their rye whiskey — followed by their bier schnapps and two of their new beers.

One of the Five & 20 guys was working in the tasting room and offered to take my father-in-law and I on a tour of their still room and storage warehouse.

Notes From The Tour:

The Christian Carl still was impressive, and is capable of both pot still distillation and column distillation. The still wasn’t in use and was being prepared for a cleaning, so our guide disassembled a “porthole” for us and let us take a look inside.

The tour was nice because we got to hear a lot about both the kinks in starting up a distillery as well as the successes. From making mash to distillation to storage and bottling, there are a ton of elements involved with producing the several spirits that Five & 20 is making — and they’re coming out ahead it seems, doing good work and building on their accomplishments.

Back to the still…. The thing’s powered by steam, and we got to see the engine room, so to speak. The temperature that thing has to reach in order to fire the still is just insane.

The secondary structure next to Chautauqua Cellars is more than just a warehouse, it’s Five & 20’s rick house — or rick room, I guess. The filled barrels are stacked in the corner of the warehouse next to the window facing the road, and our guide said the room will soon be filling up with more stacks of barrels, which is an exciting prospect.

More notes about the spirits I tasted are below, but first another photo:  

What I Sampled Today:

  • Rye Whiskey (SB)2RW:

Batch #2 was crafted to be smoother and more approachable than many rye whiskeys. The spirit was pot-distilled and was aged for 18 months in smaller barrels, all of which were new charred American Oak.

Five & 20’s website describes it as having “the spicy grain character of rye and the sweet caramel & vanilla flavors of high quality oak barrels.”

The mash bill is 80% New York-grown rye and 20% distiller’s malt.

On a side note, it’s nice to see that their tech sheet for the spirit not only has a recommended cocktail recipe, but that it’s more than just something basic — specifically, the Westfield Wallop requires both Galliano and strawberry purée. 

45% ABV

  • Afterburner Bierschnapps AB2S:

Five & 20’s Afterburner Bierschnapps are a grain-based spirit created by distilling a finished barley wine. 

On their website, FIve & 20 suggest using the bierschnapps as a stand-in for gin — and now I wish I would’ve had a flask of genever  for side-by-side sipping and comparison, because that spirit is so malty and intersting as well.

50.5% ABV

  • Pale Ale:

Medium-bodied pale ale  with hops for light, fruity, citrus flavors. —  5.4% ABV

  • Rye Pale Ale:

Light-bodied pale ale with spicy grain flavor from its rye malt. — 6.2% ABV

As of this visit, Five & 20’s three beers were only available from the tap. The good news though is that they refill growlers and are selling blank growlers right now, with branded growlers expected to arrive soon. Our guide told us that there isn’t any immediate plan to do 12 oz bottles, but plans for cans and 22 oz bottles are in the works.

What I Didn’t Taste Today:

There’s always next time:

  • Bourbon (SB)2BW — Even though I’ve tasted their bourbon before, that bottle wasn’t mine and so I don’t know whether it’s the same stuff they’re sampling there in the tasting room now.

  • Unaged Corn Whiskey
  • Unaged White Rye Whiskey
  • Limoncello
  • Manhattan Moonshine
  • Sugarwash Moonshine
  • Three Hunters Vodka
  • Apple Eau de Vie
  • Plum Eau de Vie
  • Cherry Eau de Vie
  • Pear Eau de Vie
  • Pear in the Bottle (sale only)
  • Grappa of Steuben

Much of the info in this post came straight from the Five & 20 website, which is online at Five &

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