I grew up an only child in a working-class suburb of Buffalo on an idyllic tree lined street that became the gold standard for everywhere I’ve lived since.
My folks grew up without a lot and though they watched our household spending like a pair of Big 6 CPAs, I had everything I needed and we ALWAYS ate well as my mom was a terrific cook of all cuisines. Christmas dinner was no exception. I will never forget having my aunts and uncles coming over on Christmas day to celebrate, visit, and of course, enjoy some beer (cold Schmidt’s always served in a mug) which we savored while the delectable smells of Roast Beast and Mom’s famous Yorkshire pudding wafted from the kitchen.
As I grew up and moved away, the Craft Beer era was just starting and the beer industry was beginning to produce different beer flavors and styles. I am quite proud to say that my folks became interested in this noble movement. Over the years, when I came back for a visit (with the future Mrs. KBM) I was fascinated by the progression of beer brands appearing in the fridge each year.
Those childhood years were dominated by very affordable Schmidt’s beer in a can (which meant my semi misspent teen years also involved pilfered Schmidt’s). However, in the future years as my folks became more comfortable financially I came to find premium full tasting Genesee 12-horse Ale in green bottles in the fridge along with an excellent assortment of beer from the Great White North (Canada) like Molson Export and Brador! Apparently, not having to feed me freed up some funds... hmm.
Their culmination was Sam Adams Boston Lager – an absolute leader of the craft beer revolution that remains a stalwart of full flavored brews today. During those years they also became the original Homebrewers in the Bart family which makes me wonder if there is a Beer genome or chromosome that can get passed on to lucky children?
So, as is the case with most child-parent relationships, you do not really appreciate your folks or the behaviors they modeled until you’re an adult… I respect a lot about my folks, but in the suds arena, I very much admire their beer curiosity and ability to enjoy what they could afford.
Field Trip: Nod Hill Brewery Ridgefield, Conn.
137 Ethan Allen Hwy, Ridgefield, CT 06877; nodhillbrewery.com
Earlier in the Fall, Mrs. KBM and I spent a lovely afternoon exploring Nod Hill Brewery and tap room in Ridgefield, Conn. We timed it for the day Nod Hill were celebrating their second anniversary and we’re glad we did. A factory-ish looking building with plenty of parking, there are several distinct rooms at the Brewery each with its own character and cool vibes throughout. The front room has an industrial sheik feel with a chandelier on a tall ceiling and an old style bar with large mirrors where that day’s on tap flavor offerings were written. Adjoining that room was a covered deck with high top tables and on this particularly warm day, the open windows let in beautiful rays of sunshine and warmth.
We queued up in the organized line to get some samples and were waiting patiently when the opportunistic Mrs. KBM did some exploring and found a whole other tasting room replete with live bands! (They have a regular schedule of live music so check the website). Being both impatient and thirsty, we made haste to that taproom and ran into some friends from work who also enjoy the sudsy arts. We combined our 2 squads, chit chatted, and listened to the bands play everything from blue grass to Phish. It’s worth noting there was a man with a full-on shark costume dancing to the bands… I swear we were on our first beer so he really was there. It was during the World Series and I couldn’t be sure if it was homage to the Nats Baby Shark or just because he felt it helped him be his best self. Ce La Vie.
Did you know Nod Hill is all solar powered? Adjoining the back area were several large brew kettles where the magic takes place and all powered by the numerous solar panels on the roof. You are welcome environment.
As far as the beer goes, all the offerings were delicious. We started off with samples of Everybody Smilin’ a refreshing peach & citrus pale ale at a reasonable 4.2% abv. Next up we split an Arvo double IPA 7.2% with zesty notes of grapefruit, candied orange, and mango. We finished up with a mellow 4.5% abv Stellar Rays Wheat Ale with both floral and citrus hoppiness.
Now we’re hungry. Fortunately Nod Hill has top notch food trucks stationed just outside the brewery. The day we were there, they had 2 very well known food trucks: Green Grunion (Mexican style) and Cousins Main Lobster. We adopted my son’s restaurant approach that goes something like: when there is Lobster on the menu order it (before dad has a chance to inquire about “Market Price”). We were quite pleased with our lobster choices.
I have had Nod Hill beer on several occasions and always been impressed. I’ve also recently touted the spectacular and seasonally appropriate Nod Hill Evening Routine Coffee Stout 7% on my Instagram account (total non-family followers = 4 so I see how you may have missed it…).
Nod Hill indicates “Kids welcome but need to be watched.” I like that. Pay them a visit and let me know what you think.
As it is the holiday season, I feel it proper to give homage to the beers of this season. Those roasty, chocolatey, dark, and flavorful stouts, porters and actual “Holiday Ales” which often have delicious spices (nutmeg, cinnamon,..) added to them. But, alas, I’ve tackled that with a few good recommendations that still stand up today. Please have a look back to my January 17, 2019 tome entitled “Happy Brew Year from the Katonah Beer Man.” I have included the links below.
For this year, to that list I would like to add:
Troeg’s Mad Elf: From a great Pennsylvania brewery, please try this Belgium dark strong ale clocking in at 11%, a ruby red color, and notes of cinnamon, clove and allspice.
Two Roads Holiday Ale: this limited release Bier de Noel style that literally translates to “Christmas Beer” trends more malty than hoppy and at a satisfying 7.3% I detected just the right amount of cinnamon in each sip.
*Remember with all of these seasonal ales, serve in a rounded glass that you can lovingly cup to warm up a bit to release their nuanced flavors.
Here is my prior article about winter season beers:
However, you can always get to my articles by going to: tapinto.net/ and searching “bart”
Happy <whatever you celebrate this season>!
Brew & Co: Food Trucks Every Friday
914-666-3600, email@example.com, brewandcompany.com, 532 Bedford Rd, Bedford Hills
Vista Beer & Beverage: check out their newest seasonally appropriate selections with extended hours throughout the holidays including Christmas Day.
vistabeerandbeverage.com, 204 Oakridge Common South Salem, 914-533-0100
*Please reach out with upcoming beer or related events as I am happy to spread the word
The Katonah Beer Man