Visiting Southern Tier Brewing Company

This past weekend the gang and I traveled to Lakewood, NY to visit Southern Tier Brewing Company for the second time.  I still cannot recommend this brewery enough, I don’t think I have ever had a beer from Southern Tier that I didn’t like.  If you ask me, they are the best brewery in New York State and quickly becoming one of the top breweries in the country.

We left from Rochester on Saturday morning, heading southwest toward Ellicottville, NY.  This little ski resort town in upstate NY is home to Ellicottville Brewing Company, Southern Tier’s “sister brewery”.  If you’ve never tried anything from EBC, I highly recommend it!  We stopped in for lunch around 12:15pm, and even though the busy ski season had the place buzzing with activity, we were seated right away.  I ordered the Chocolate Cherry Bomb (8.2 ABV | 32 IBU), an Imperial Stout, served on nitro, that was as drinkable as it was delicious.  I was hesitant to opt for what I assumed would be a heavy beer considering I was pairing it with lunch.  But we were only stopping for a quick bite and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to try such an intriguing brew.  The stout pours a thick sturdy head and the aroma prepares you for a rich creamy sip reminiscent of chocolate milk.  I was surprised though, by how quickly the rich aroma gives way to a sweet, smooth taste without the thick mouthfeel I was expecting.  It’s silky, as you’d expect a chocolate stout to be, but very drinkable.  I paired it with their BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, which proved to be a great choice!  The sandwich was amazing and the sweet and tangy BBQ sauce paired well with the robust Cherry Bomb.

From there we headed west, making our way closer and closer to Lakewood, and the home to our most beloved brews.  We checked into our motel rooms at the Fairmount Motel, just a mile and a half away from the brewery and called a cab to give us a lift.  We arrived at the brewery around 3:30pm and immediately registered for the 5 o’clock tour.  On Saturday’s tours run at 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm and will cost you $12 a head, including a souvenir glass to take home.  Brewery tours are limited to 20 people and often sell out, so if you plan on making the trip try to arrive early to reserve a space.  Once we had secured our spots on the tour, we each grabbed a beer (2X Stout for me) and settled in under the propane heaters on the patio.  The one thing that we didn’t do, and I wished we did, was bring something to snack on.  Due to the limited menu at  the Empty Pint, their on-site bar, they allow patrons to bring in outside food with them if they wish.  Even though we had a great time sitting and chatting on the patio, something tells me some cheese and crackers would have made the afternoon that much better.

It’s a great tour, covering the entire facility and offering the chance to taste a variety of beers that they have available that day.   We tried the Chautauqua Brew, Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale, 2X IPA, and 2x Stout… we got to try the 2X Stout straight from the bright tank at the end of the tour!   Before we left we made sure to stock up with a nice big box of bombers to remember the trip.  Some memorable additions include: Gemini, Choklat, and Back Burner.

Southern Tier Brewing Company is a fantastic brewery to visit and probably not as far away as you think if you live in Western NY, Northern PA, or Eastern Ohio!  If you’re going to plan a trip, remember my tips:

  • Plan to stay overnight.  The Fairmount Motel is nearby, clean and super affordable.
  • Arrive early to make sure you can get a spot on the brewery tour. ($12/person)
  • Bring snacks.  I recommend cheese and crackers to complement the various beers (and maybe some chocolate for dessert?)