So apparently, there is this thing called "The Session" or Beer Blogging Friday where beer bloggers blog on the same topic, on the same day. Once a month one beer blogger "hosts" and gives a topic and compiles links for all the posts. I discovered The Sessions when The Beer Babe announced this week's topic via twitter. Since the topic is all about "the new kids," I figured it would be the perfect first session for me.
The general theme of this week's topic is centered around the large spike in brewery openings in the recent years. Chances are there is a new brewery opening near most of us, and as members of the beer community, we should welcome them. As it turns out, there is a new brewery going in to the Gamble Mill restaurant in Bellefonte, PA. This is only about 20 minutes down the road, so that counts as my neighborhood.
I was able to get in contact with their brewer, Mike Smith, and went down to the brewery to talk with him. He's a real nice guy who got his start with Dogfish Head and moved up to Ithaca Brewing Company for a bit and is now back in his hometown. Since I started my beer drinking career with Ithaca and I am also a fan of Dogfish Head, I was pretty excited to chat with him and taste some of his beers.
The idea of this session was to visit a "new" brewery, and the brewery at Gamble Mill is so new, that they havent even started serving their beers yet. Part of the reason is the PLCB (sucks) and the also had some equipment issues. Good news is they are on track to pour beer soon. The brewery itself is tiny (sorry, forgot to take any pictures)! The fermenters are 7 barrels, but they can only make 3.5 barrels of wort at a time, so a beer made over two brew days.
Right now they have 3 beers in the tanks and Mike poured a taste of each. This was my first taste of beer fresh from the tanks, so that was pretty cool.
1. Golden ale - This is Mike's "stepping stone" beer for those who may be new to the whole idea of beer with flavor. Mike adds corn to the beer because he likes some of the flavors it adds. The nose was very bready and yeasty, which was nice, but I am not sure if that will stick around once the beer is finished and filtered. This beer wasn't my favorite, but keep in mind it wasn't brewed for me.
2. Saison - This beer is closer to something that I would order at the bar. A little bit of spice and nice and refreshing. Nothing crazy here just a good beer. I dont think it will take long for people to step from the golden ale to the saison, I think anyone can enjoy this beer.
3. Pale ale - Mike prefaced pouring the beer by saying that it is a little dark to be really considered pale, but with all these crazy black pale beers, I dont think anyone will give him any trouble about it. As soon as the beer went under my nose, I knew this was a beer for me. Nice strong hop aroma. This is a great pale ale. There must be something about central PA water, because now I have 3 brew pubs within a 30 minute drive with pale ales that I really like (Ottos and Elk Creek are the other 2).
In addition to tasting, we just chatted about beer and brewing for about an hour and I got a feeling that there is going to be some incredible stuff going on here once they get rolling. Mike mentioned ideas for wild fermentations, barrel aging, traditional cask beer and beer dinners. He seems pretty excited about being a part of the community (especially, I'm sure, because he grew up around here) and wants to do a lot of things. Also, he seemed open to starting a twitter account for the brewery, and there is always room on twitter for more breweries.
It looks like Mike, and the guys at Gamble Mill are on the path to being a great brewpub...now to keep a look out for when they start pouring the beer!