This week The Beer Nut, always in search of a better brew, takes to the road and finds out there's more to Cooperstown, N.Y., than the Baseball Hall of Fame.
A weekend of brews, baseball and camping -- it does not get much better than that.
This week, The Beer Nut goes on the road, visiting Cooperstown, N.Y., for an ultimate guy's weekend with some friends.
Cooperstown is the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum and of one of the United State's best producers of Belgian-influenced ales: Brewery Ommegang. Nearby Milford, N.Y., features the Cooperstown Brewing Company, a small brewery specializing in English-style ales.
Two friends and I -- fellow reporter Charlie Breitrose and former co-worker Andy Morse tagged along -- decided to head up for the weekend, because Ommegang was hosting a large beer festival, ``Belgium Comes to Cooperstown.''
A car ride from MetroWest to Cooperstown is about four hours, but make sure to make a little stop in Albany. Not far from Interstate 90 on Colvin Avenue is Oliver's Beverage, a liquor store with a fantastic selection of beers not available in Massachusetts. I dropped $56. (Add that to the $50 I spent at Ommegang, and the $15 at the Cooperstown Brewing Company ... it was an expensive weekend.)
There are many lodging choices in Cooperstown and the surrounding communities - hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds. We picked a campground - for $141, we got a 12-by-12-foot cabin with a 12-by-8-foot porch for two nights at the Cooperstown Beaver Valley Campgrounds, a 10-minute drive or cab ride to downtown Cooperstown, the Cooperstown Brewery or Brewery Ommegang.
Brewery Ommegang is a beautiful location. It is built on a former hop farm on more than 120 acres of land. The actual brewery is designed like a traditional Belgian farmhouse and features a store with all of their beers available, as well as other gifts, ranging from glasses to authentic Belgian chocolate.
Although we went for a festival, the brewery has events throughout the year to keep people entertained.
On Sept. 6 and 7, the brewery will join together with the Inn at Cooperstown to offer a bike and brew tour package. On Sept. 15 the brewery hosts the ``Ommefest: Celebrating the Harvest,'' a celebration of local beer, wine, cider and cheese, along with music and medieval entertainment.
There are other events in October and December.
The brewery knows how to run an event. The festival had great beers from around the country available. There was also a trick horse rider, falconry demonstrations, pony rides for children and better-than-average beer festival food, including steamed mussels, Belgian waffles and pork loin.
Even if the Baseball Hall of Fame is the main focus of the trip, the brewery is still worth a quick stop in, even if you have children. Through Labor Day, the brewery hosts tours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (noon to 5 p.m. during the winter).
The tour includes a description of the brewery, explanation of the brewing process and a tasting of the five beers it has available. If you're lucky when you go, the new chocolate stout will be available - it's made with real Belgian chocolate and is phenomenal. The new release Ommegeddon is also a great beer.
After the tour, feel free to sit outside on the large field behind the brewery, have a picnic lunch and toss the ball around.
The Cooperstown Brewing Company in Milford, right outside Cooperstown, is also worth a short visit. The tours last about a half hour but are packed with little tidbits about the brewing process.
Kids can have fun saying hello to the brewery dog and kittens, while the parents get to sample the seven ales the small, family-run brewery produces.
They also have a full store with shirts, posters and, of course, beer available for sale. As you drive into the brewery, take notice of the vines growing on the light post near the entrance - the vines are actually hop plants. The brewery uses the hops in their Back Yard India Pale Ale.
If not everyone in your traveling group is a beer person, don't fret, because Cooperstown is all about baseball.
The Hall of Fame is a fun, affordable stop - $14.50 for adults. If you're a baseball fan and have never been there, you'll be amazed.
The downtown is packed with baseball memorabilia shops. All restaurants in the area have baseball-related names. Heck, even the local McDonald's theme is baseball.
Cooperstown Brewing's bottles all have baseballs painted on the caps.
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, contact email@example.com or 508-626-3823.