[EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece refers to Stowe Cider's previous location. In the time since our visit, the cidery has opened a new location located at 17 Town Farm Lane in Stowe. While we greatly enjoyed our visit to the old taproom, we encourage you to check out Stowe Cider's new space. Feel free to let us know how you like it! We hope to write an updated review in the near future.]
Cidery Name: Stowe Cider
Type of Cidery: Retail Cidery
Location: 1799 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT 05672
Facebook: Stowe Cider
Background: Not only was I the first writer to review a cidery, it appears I’m going to be the second, too. I took a trip to Stowe, VT a few months ago, and Stowe Cider was one of the “must-visit” places on my list. My fiance has a gluten allergy, which, sadly, means no beer; however, it has given me the chance to get much more into cider. Stowe Cider has been one of the unexpected gems that I’ve found during that discovery process. On their own, the cans that Stowe Cider distributes represent a really cool mix of flavors and styles, and I was really excited to see what else the taproom itself had in store. Spoiler alert: I was not disappointed.
Growlers: Yes. They even offer growlers full of regular, non-alcoholic apple cider, which look absolutely delicious.
The Ciders: One of the great things about Stowe Cider is sheer magnitude of different options. I mean, just look at that list below: we’ve got a dry-hopped cider, a shandy, gin, rum, and tequila aged ciders, and even an ice cider. Take note, people who say cider is boring because it all tastes the same. None of these ciders tasted even remotely the same, and almost every single one of them introduced me to something I’ve never had in a cider before. Mega props to Stowe Cider for an incredibly unique lineup. Here are some of my favorites:
Vibe: I’m not totally sure how to describe the vibe of the Stowe Cider taproom. The cidery is located at the end of a strip of storefronts on one of Stowe’s main roads. The outside has a rustic, charming feel that is perfectly mirrored by the interior.
Inside the taproom you’ll find picnic tables, tables made from barrels, cornhole boards, barstools, decorations made from empty bottles, and a thousand other little things that remind you that you are in rural Vermont. The walls are brightly colored and the room is well lit, making the spacious taproom feel even more open than it already is.
Stowe Cider is popular, that much is for sure. The taproom wasn’t too busy when we stopped by, but it filled up soon after we sat down with our flights. There are games to be played (we opted for Trivial Pursuit), there’s artwork to admire, and, of course, cider to drink. You can also take a look inside the gigantic fridge located near the register for some cans and growlers to take home with you. As I mentioned before, Stowe Cider even sells regular, non-alcoholic cider. I really regret not taking some home with me.
The staff was friendly, the crowd was happy--and it doesn’t hurt that we visited on an absolutely beautiful and sunny day. Everyone there was in a good mood, and the whole experience left both of us feeling really upbeat. Whether that’s a testament to the vibe of the cidery or the benefit of a perfect day, we had a great time!
Dogs: Unsure. It’s a reasonably sized taproom with plenty of seating, but it definitely fills up quickly on weekends. I’m not sure whether they allow dogs in the taproom, but, even if they do, you’ll want to consider how well behaved your dog is in crowds.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Pretty much par for the course as far as brewery/cidery prices go. Not super pricey and you definitely get your money’s worth with a wide variety of generously poured samplers.
Food: There are some limited, snacky options available. Sadly, they were sold out when we visited, so I can’t speak to the quality of the food, but it’s pretty much par for the course at a place like this.
Final Thoughts: Ever since I started diving into the world of cider, Stowe Cider has been a favorite of mine. I jumped at the chance to visit the taproom, and was greeted with creative and delicious ciders that exceeded even my lofty expectations. If you’re a fan of cider, I highly recommend stopping by--and if you’re not a fan of cider, I recommend stopping by anyway. There are so many barrel aged cider varieties here that you’re virtually certain to find something you like!
Brewery Name: Aigean Ales
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 250 Commercial St Unit #2001, Manchester, NH.
Facebook: Aigean Ales
Background: Aigean Ales has been open since early 2017, but, despite the fact that the taproom is just ten minutes down the road from my place of employment, I didn’t hear about them until October. In a way, this fits the Aigean Ales motif: they’ve cultivated a sort of speakeasy vibe for themselves, and they relish being one of the city’s hidden gems. For the owners of the brewery, this isn’t a full-time job: it’s just something they love doing. They aren’t trying to get rich brewing beer, they’re more interested in creating a great space where beer lovers can enjoy the creative concoctions they’ve cooked up.
Growlers: Yes, there are growlers available for purchase in the taproom. Due to New Hampshire’s growler laws, they can only fill their own glassware, so if you’re coming from out of state you should be aware of that.
The Beers: Aigean Ales has six tap lines, so you can usually count on a pretty good variety of beers to try. When I stopped in, they had a couple of sours, a stout, a table beer, an IPA, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve talked about it before on the blog, but there’s nothing better than when a brewery isn’t afraid to branch out into a bunch of different styles. Sure, I like a good IPA from a brewery that specializes in that style, but I also like to see what a brewery is really capable of and taste a bunch of different beers.
Dogs: Unsure. The owners have an adorable yogurt-loving pup who wanders around inside the taproom, so you might be alright as long as your dog is well behaved. On the other hand, the brewery is located inside one of Manchester’s old mill buildings in a sort of mall-like area, so dogs might be a no-go. I’d say use your judgment.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Pretty much standard prices for tasters and growlers, no surprises here.
Food: No food. The brewery’s entire public space amounts to a bartop and a couple of chairs against the wall, so this isn’t a place where you’re going to settle in with beer and food. It doesn’t sound like they have any immediate plans to expand, but you never know!
Final Thoughts: I love a place that feels like a secret. A place that makes me feel like I’ve stumbled upon something that not many people know about. The word is starting to get out about Aigean Ales, but the taproom has stayed true to the vision of its owners. Not only does Aigean Ales offer great beer, but they also offer great conversation, and a real sense of enthusiasm for what they do. There aren’t too many breweries these days where you can just sidle up to the bar and learn about the brewery’s entire backstory straight from the owners themselves, so treasure places like Aigean Ales when you find them!
Brewery Name: SingleCut Beersmiths
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: Astoria, New York
Background: One of my wife’s oldest friends lives in Astoria, so we always like to visit and catch up. Unfortunately, school prevented a lot of our travel, so we decided that now (after graduation) was the best time to visit. My wife’s friend had told me about this brewery that had opened up called ‘SingleCut,’ and said I should check it out. Astoria has a lot of fun spots to check out, so it only made sense that a brewery would open up there. It is also still a manufacturing area, which is what allows neighborhoods to have fun things like breweries.
I had started to hear about SingleCut from Shane, and I recently got to try their beer down in DC. This trip seemed like the perfect chance to check out this hop-forward brewery.
Growlers: Yes (also crowlers and cans).
The Beers: SingleCut had a number of beers on tap when I visited. These are the ones I managed to try:
Vibe: Sometimes you walk into a place and it just has it right. The music is good, volume is nice, setup is nice, it seems clean, and you say, “hey, we can stay here for a few hours.” SingleCut has all of that going for it. It’s a very low-key bar. They have a large collection of vinyl records, which they rotate throughout the day. The music is at just the right volume--you can listen if you want, but still have a conversation without forgetting what you were saying. The brewery has a nice rock-and-roll theme with that classic aroma of hops just tossed into the boil.
The beers are all wonderful, and they brew a wider variety of styles than I have been exposed to. Today, you usually hear about a brewery only if they have a good IPA. And that is the most popular style right now, but it gets to be a little much when places don’t offer something for everyone. I have walked into many breweries with 12 beers on tap, and 11 of them are IPAs or some form of really hoppy beer. That isn’t even great for a hop fan. You try 3-4 hoppy beers and you can’t taste it after a while. And if you don’t like hops, you don’t enjoy the brewery. My wife hates hops, and a brewery visit gets nicer if she has the chance to choose between multiple non-IPAs. That’s the mark of a great brewery. Yes, they can do one thing well, but what else can they do? SingleCut is another example of the type of brewery I love, where I find them for the hops but like them because of everything else.
Other than the tap list, there are the normal selections of games for people to play. And the staff was really attentive and helpful if you had questions of wanted to try anything. Overall, just a great Saturday drinking experience. They also had a projection of a fish bowl on one wall. I don’t know why, but I felt that was a bonus for me.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Overall reasonably priced. You can easily spend a full Saturday afternoon here without breaking the bank.
Food: They have a small kitchen featuring BBQ and some tacos. Definitely a good snack to keep yourself going if you plan on being there for a while.
Final Thoughts: This is my new favorite brewery in New York. It has all the great beer I want in a fun, casual environment.
Brewery Name: Peekskill Brewery
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: Peekskill, NY
Background: Before California was DC and before DC was New York for me. I grew up just a few miles from Peekskill and know it pretty well. Took my driving test there when I was 16 and worked some early-in-life food service jobs in the area, too. I hadn’t been back in quite some time, and while I was gone the beer scene arrived.
It’s no San Francisco or Burlington but I’m glad to see the craft brewery movement starting here. I won’t lie, I’d have been pretty bummed if this brewery was disappointing, but I’m happy to say that it was extremely enjoyable. Really glad I was able to stop by and am looking forward to increased distribution and maybe another visit in the future!
Growlers: Growlers are available, but for a pretty limited amount of the taps. About half of what’s pouring is available to take home growler-style at any given time, it seems.
The Beers: Peekskill has a pretty wide-ranging taplist, which is always a fun way to go into tasting. I have become so accustomed to super hoppy beers that I sort of expected to be a little lower on their IPAs and pale ales, but to my pleasant surprise they were some of the best ones I tried. As you can see, I decided to try every beer they had (13 when I was there), but here are a few of the highlights:
Vibe: Peekskill Brewery has a pretty successful industry-chic vibe going for it. Lots of black metal, stainless steel, and large scale wall art and drawings. There is an upstairs seating section for a meal-oriented experience and a decent size bar with additional seating on the main level.
They seemed a bit short-staffed when I visited, but the folks who did help me were great. They encouraged small pours and spent a good amount of time talking us through their recommended tasting order. It’s always a major plus to have a craft brewery experience that involves staff being excited about their product.
Once you get past all the visual aspects, there is a little bit of a pub vibe going on with big, long wood tables, big beers, and a really good level of noise when they fill up. The chalkboard beer list, wall drawings, and extremely well-done can art confuse your senses once more into more of a studio vibe this time. All of these different elements somehow work really well together and give Peekskill Brewery a really great vibe.
Dogs: No dogs inside, but this was another cold weather visit for me. It looks like they may have some space outside for seating when it's warmer, but was hard to tell with snow on the ground
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$. Truly middle of the road. I expected everything to be about a buck cheaper, but certainly wasn’t put off by the pricing. Full pours run between 6-8 bucks and food is fair as well. The small pours are affordable if you’re going for a full spectrum too!
Food: GREAT food menu here. In my mind, a best-of-both-worlds menu as far as brewpubs go. They’ve got that upscale bar menu going, with apps like beer mac n cheese, carnitas nachos, and fried pickles, but also offer wings, burgers, and a few larger scale dishes like fish and chips. Everything is priced pretty fairly, and portions seemed real solid (admittedly I did my classic liquid dinner, unfortunately).
Final Thoughts: Really happy to see a good craft brewery pop up in my original stomping grounds. For whatever reason, it seems like the huge swath of New York between the finger lakes and the city are late to the beer game, but hopefully Peekskill Brewery is a sign of good things to come. Without a doubt some of the better beer I’ve had from the region, and the brewery is a great place to stop and hang for a while.
Pete: Aslin has always been a favorite of mine. Ever since my first pilgrimage out to Herndon, it has had my support. I have gone there on my birthday, after a long week, or even just because a release looked good, and this trip coincided with my graduation from law school. It seemed like the perfect time to get out to the brewery to check out a can release.
I started to visit Aslin when they only offered crowler releases in very small batch numbers. Now they have a huge line for stacks and stacks of their cans. The place has become unrecognizable ever since the city informed the brewery that they could no longer serve on-site anymore. That was sad, but that space was always tough to be in because it really was so small.
As the brewery grew in popularity, the ability to sit and enjoy a beer at the bar waned so it was getting harder and harder to spend time there. For a while, the best way to enjoy the brewery was to get in and get out with crowlers to drink the beer elsewhere. Luckily they have decided to open a tap room in Herndon and keep their first location as a brewery only spot. That seems to be the best move for all parties (including the other businesses, which were likely unhappy with the amount of parking taken up by the brewery patrons during releases), so stay tuned for an eventual post on their new location.
Shane: Pete has obviously been high on Aslin for quite some time. He selected several Aslin beers in our 2016 Beer Draft. He has been visiting Aslin since they first burst onto the beer scene. He’s even included a handful of Aslin beers in our regular writeups. To say that Pete is an Aslin fan would probably be a gross understatement. So when he let us know that he would be including a slew of new Aslin beers among his next tasting selections, I was pretty excited. Especially when I learned that among them would be a few different fruit beers and a collaboration with fellow mid-Atlantic powerhouse RaR. The final beer in this batch is a brew from 3 Stars, which we visited earlier this year during our Washington, DC Beercation and were very impressed by. I’m pumped to have the opportunity to try another beer from them, and I can’t wait to crack into this excellent selection provided by Pete. Is it weird that six of the seven beers are from Aslin? Sure, maybe. Is Aslin so awesome that I don’t care? Yes, definitely.
York: I see you got some Aslin, eh, Pete? I have waited in a line for beer exactly twice in my life. Both were Pete’s fault. Both resulted in beer that made me stop complaining about lines. The most recent of those experiences was at Aslin (during our last beercation), and it yielded all-stars like Master of Karate and Stellar Parallax, so it’s safe to say an Aslin focus definitely sounds good to me. Even more so, I love the mix of styles here. IPAs and double IPAs in a huge range of ABVs and not one but two Wild IPAs--which has become a real favorite style of mine. RaR and 3 Stars are two of my top breweries in the DC area that I make sure to seek out any time I’m nearby, so getting a beer each from them makes this batch even more exciting. I don’t know that I’d have previously said that a batch from almost entirely one brewery was preferable, but this lineup looks about as good as any.
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