Updated: Dec 29, 2018
This is an archived copy of what was originally posted on Facebook.
Last night we landed at a cozy little nano brewery in Phelps, NY (Finger Lakes, just north of Seneca Lake) called Crafty Ales and Lagers. Crafty has been around for about 5 years, and specializes in small batch runs that they serve in their taproom and other local establishments in the region.
Crafty usually hosts live music only one night a week, and it being a Thursday the crowd was made up of enthusiastic regulars who come primed ready to drink some quality beers and hear some music... which is my kind of crowd.
The atmosphere in the taproom is extremely comfortable, the decor is rustic woodwork, barstools throughout, and extra seating is provided on beer barrels fitted with cushioned tops, and quite comfortable. The folks (both owners and customers) are extremely friendly and talkative about the brewery, beers, music, and their beautiful region and town.
Crafty Ales & Lagers - Phelps, NY
The brews are available at the taproom and select locations around the Finger Lakes.
I started the night with their Wicked Sickle IPA Milkshake (6%). I've only recently started seeing these "milkshake" IPAs popping up, and this was my first go a the style... and it was REALLY good. Crafty's had a light tangerine flavor, and then finished like a creamcycle... yet with a medium body and fairly crisp carbonation.... so it was creamy and delicious yet still thirst quenching and refreshing. I could have kept drinking more of these, but obviously I'm on a different mission...
The next three pints were all variations on their pumpkin theme. With the place called "Crafty", and a witch theme present throughout, and Fall being a big thing in this part of the country, October is a big deal... and so naturally pumpkins and Halloween are as well. Craft introduces a new pumpkin beer each week made from local heirloom pumpkins, throughout October, and then hosts a big Halloween party where they fill a huge pumpkin with the final one, along with a few bottle of hooch, and serve it out of taps popped into the pumpkin. Very cool. If you're in the area, you'd be crazy not to make some plans around that....
So the first one I had was the Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale (6%), which was a nice medium bodied ale with roasted pumpkin, and lightly spiced... but without nutmeg, so it had a nice light pumpkin flavor without that sort of gimmicky nutmeg topping. Very good.
Next I hit the Jack the Night Pumpkin Porter (6%), which again was very well balanced (this time a nice dark porter rather than an ale), and the spicing was a little different in this one (perhaps a bit more dominant). Another winner.
The final one in the series was the Mad Jack (6%), which was spiced with the same recipe as the Happy Jack, but in this one the pumpkin is smoked rather than roasted. This one was very robust and popping with flavor, and perfect for the chilly Autumn evening that it was. I'm bummed that I won't be able to try the final one in the series, maybe next year...
After my set I sipped on the Onyx Moro Black IPA (7.5%) which was a rather drastic change flavor wise from the pumpkin series, but pretty spectacular on it's own. If you're into black IPAs, it might be difficult to find a better one. Rich in flavor, almost black in color, with a rich tan head... and a very well done black IPA combo of hoppiness, both slightly fruity, with a dark mocha finish. It tasted rather high-octane to me, I was surprised it was "only" 7.5%.
This is the sort of place I love discovering, and just goes to prove that real magic can be happening in those small breweries that can be so easy to pass by, but are so worth taking the time to try. I hope to swing back through this one again!
Next stop, Friday night in Buffalo, NY, at Flying Bison Brewing Company