Newlyweds return to the location of their first vacation as a couple. A return to Baseball Mecca. A return to Cooley's. A return to Bear Pond Winery. A return to Brewery Ommegang. A return home. A return to running. A return to work delayed another day. A return to blogging. And thus I return.
It has been a delightful respite from everyday life these past 10 days. The Enthusiast and I embarked on an eight-hour journey to Cooperstown, N.Y., for our honeymoon last week. Our return to the birthplace of baseball included a return to some of our favorite spots -- Cooley's Stone House Tavern, Bear Pond Winery, Brewery Ommegang and (for me) the National Baseball Hall of Fame -- but it also included the discovery of many new experiences.
We stayed at the Inn at Cooperstown as part of the "Bed & Brew" package, which included a meet and greet and share with the other guests, wherein we all brought our favorite craft beers and/or home brews to sample. The Enthusiast and I brought our remaining stash of last year's porter and two six-packs of Thirsty Dog's 12 Dogs of Christmas and Great Lakes Brewing's Oktoberfest.
There were many a beer to try, and many for the first time, but the one that stood the test of the ensuring brewfog was Hot-Jala-Heim ("Beer with Bite"), a chili-flavored beer by Horseheads Brewing in Horseheads, N.Y. I'm kicking myself for not stopping when I saw the exit for Horseheads on the way home because I doubt I'll be able to find this beer locally.
The main event for our package deal was a tour, tasting and five-course dinner pairing at Brewery Ommegang. The Enthusiast and I were shocked at how much the brewery had changed since our last visit three years ago. The company has greatly expanded under Duvel's ownership, adding a large storage facility and a just-opened tasting room with a restaurant and retail shop attached.
New to Ommegang's lineup is its BPA, a Belgian-style pale ale, which kind of bridges the gap between Belgian and American pale ales. Frankly, I wasn't overly impressed by this brew, as it tastes like a dull IPA. However, the rest of the brews were delicious as always. We picked up a bottle of Aphrodite, but sadly lost it while unloading the car. I hope to find a replacement bottle somewhere.
Other notable booze purchases included Bear Pond's Winter Bear, hard cider and apple ice wine from Fly Creek Cider Mill, and a three-liter bottle Abbey Ale brewed especially for the Inn at Cooperstown and signed by the brewmaster. (As the innkeeper said, "It's the single-serving size.")
As for running, I managed to get out for three miles barefoot yesterday. It's been far too long since I last ran, let alone without shoes, so my feet got a little chilly on the cold pavement. Now it's time to start working off the weight gained since the marathon.