You have to realize that I do not really get out to bars that much. Having three little kids in tow as well as an agenda that makes as much time for Purity Dairy as beer shopping provides little opportunity for spending hours in a tap room. We were even staying across a parking lot from the Scale House Pub and Brewery. We waved at it as we loaded or unloaded the kids. But no never mind. The point was the shopping anyway. The stash was looking sad. Looks better now.
First up was Ithaca Coffee Company, reviewed back in 2006. I was impressed. Plenty of six packs and singles. Good examples from Belgium, the US west coast and lots of New York craft brews. Five growler fills as well with a small serving bar in the back corner. I picked up a six of Flower Power as well as a Brooklyn Local 1, which rapidly became my new favorite US-made saison.
Next day, Wegmans...#34 to be precise. I always check Wegmans but had grown familiarly familiar with the cooler in the corner that in itself shamed all beer selling in Canada. I was not prepared for how Wegmans entered into 2009, however. In addition to plenty of posters offering beer appreciating classes, a whole corner of the store's floor space - say 100 x 150 feet - is now dedicated to beer with a really respectable presentation of craft beers with more in the cooler. At least five beers by Weihenstephaner - more than I have tried. I picked up another Local 1, noting that it was the older taboo ring ridged bottle. It and its partner, a Val-Dieu Brown, were both a reasonable $8.99. At a grocery store.
Finally, this morning before heading out of town I hit Finger Lake Beverages hard, dragging back about 75 bottles including a full case of Flower Power for careful venison swapping. The mind boggles walking into the place. Meantime Scotch, Drie Fonteinen and Girardin geueze, Fantome Noel, a couple from Tröegs including Mad Elf and Troegenator, beers I should likely have avoided from San Marino and Argentina as well as yoinks and yoinks of new to me US craft brews. I grabbed and move grabbed and moved. It all got to be a bit of a blur.
So Ithaca remains for me one of the best places for a day's beer run from Ontario. Perhaps nothing to you folk who live in places where you can go to a grocery store and buy this sort of thing. But for we of the Great White North the idea of a town with 1,000 types of beer, a great slacker food culture as well as a sledding hill that eats whole families is more than we can imagine. I even got a wave through at the border. A good weekend all around.