A few weeks ago, I learned about a new beer passport that had been launched in my area of Upstate NY. My boyfriend and I are huge beer passport geeks and are actively working on completing ones in Vermont and New Hampshire. When I heard that one was being created right in my neck of the woods, I couldn’t wait to get started on it. I have to say, I am overwhelming impressed with this beer passport program. The area it covers are the counties of Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Albany, Greene, and Columbia. Most beer passports I have seen are a flimsy card with tiny logos that get stamped at each brewery, and can be turned in for a t-shirt, a sticker, or a vague sounding “prize pack”. The Capital Craft Beverage Trail (CCBT) passport, however, looks like exactly that: a thick blue passport (in fact, before a recent trip to Europe, I even briefly confused this for my real passport). Inside there is a page dedicated to each brewery, cidery, winery, or distillery, with a little info and a place for a stamp. In addition, there is an area in the back to accumulate stamps for prizes that one might actually want and use. There are four levels of prizes. After five stamps you reach level one, where you can turn in or mail in the ticket for a CCBT Snifter glass. Each additional level requires another five stamps and can be turned in for a winter hat, a growler and shot glass, and finally, tickets to a 2019 CCBT beer event. Personally, I can’t wait to redeem my prizes, as these are items that I will actually use! You can get more information on the CCBT and participating breweries on their website here: http://www.capitalcraftbeveragetrail.com
I was eager to get started on this new passport program and headed up to South Glens Falls to meet a friend at my favorite local brewery, Common Roots. I’ve been coming to Common Roots for a long time and have been lucky to watch this brewery grow and evolve over the years. I first found out about Common Roots while attending a local IPA festival several years ago, and I was blown away by their beer ‘Last Light’. I quickly found out where they were located and have been making trips up there ever since. I remember during my first trips up there they only had a few offerings on tap, but they have now expanded to 12 taps with multiple to-go offerings as well. They continue to make some of the best IPAs in the area, but also have expanded with an impressive wild fermentation and coolship program. They have also started local distribution, so I can pick up cans or growlers of their beers at my local bottle shop in Albany if I don’t feel like making the trek. The taproom has stayed mostly the same, with great seating at the bar and several tables indoors and outdoors. They also have frequent events at the brewery, including live music, trivia, and even running, biking and yoga events.
My most recent visit to the brewery was on a beautiful summer day, so I grabbed a flight and joined my friend outside at a picnic table. This evening there was also a food truck at the brewery and we split a woodfired pizza from Wood Shack Food Truck. I started out my flight with ‘Strictly Social’, a collaboration beer with Kent Falls Brewing out of Connecticut. This session pale ale uses Ella and Mosaic hops as well as additions of hibiscus and plum. The beer poured a hazy peach/grapefruit color with a very thin white head. The flavor was tropical and citrus fruit forward with a hint of plum, and a pleasant tartness. According to the Common Roots website, this is only the first collaboration in a series, and I can’t wait to taste what else they come up with. Next up in my flight was ‘Lutz Keller’, an unfiltered German Keller lager. I was excited to see this on tap, as I feel like this style doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves. Despite being unfiltered, this beer was still fairly clear, and poured a light straw yellow. I got big whiffs of honey in the aroma, and the taste was perfectly crisp, malty and sweet.
While I was at the taproom, I knew I had to try one of their sour offerings. I am really trying to develop an appreciation for the style and my friend, an avid sour-beer drinker, recommended ‘Tasteful Deception’ to me as one of the milder sour offerings. This Wild Ale is made with the Common Roots house bacteria and yeast, and this batch was conditioned on blood oranges as well. It poured a honey golden yellow color and I hesitantly took my first sip. Well folks, I’m still not there. I will keep trying to get into this sour trend, but this beer was too much for me. The aroma and taste while slightly citrusy, was overwhelming funky to me. I kept smelling the beer over and over again, but I just found there to be something putrid about it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this is a bad beer at all, its just not for me. My friend sipped on my sampler and found the beer to be delicious, and he exclusively drank their wild fermented offerings during our trip. I will keep trying these beers, and I truly hope that someday my palate adjusts so I can enjoy these complex styles. Finally, I had to finish off the flight with some hops. I decided to try their ‘Space DIPA’, made exclusively with Galaxy hops. Now I have to preface my review here by saying that I was so blown away by this beer that I brought home a growler of it, but upon tasting my growler, I found a totally different IPA inside. Based on the flavors of galaxy hops, I think that the beer in my growler was the Space DIPA, as it was tropical, juicy, and quite crushable for a DIPA. The beer on my flight poured an opaque golden yellow with a big foamy white head that left behind thick lacing. This beer however, was seriously dank and the aroma reminded me of sage or marijuana, and the taste was resiny, tropical, and bitter. If this was the Space DIPA or another one of their amazing IPAs on draft, I can’t be sure. But one thing’s for certain, you really can’t go wrong with any of the IPA offerings coming out of Common Roots Brewing.
In addition to my growler, I also brought home some cans of their beers ‘Daylight’ and ‘Shadow Figures’. ‘Daylight’ is one of the brewery’s OG beers: a delicious DIPA that I drink whenever I can get my hands on it. This DIPA pours a slightly hazy golden yellow with a foamy white head. The aroma and taste are juicy and tropical, with flavors of passion fruit and a bit of melon. This beer is juicy with a smooth mouthfeel but has a nicely balanced bitterness to it. ‘Shadow Figures’ was a new beer to me and, again, Common Roots succeeds at just totally blowing me away. This porter pours a chocolate brown with a fluffy tan head. It is light to medium bodied with a smooth mouthfeel, with a taste of roasted malts, coffee, and a hint of chocolate. This is one of the best porters I have had in quite a long time and has renewed my appreciation for the style.
All in all, Common Roots Brewing is putting out some of the highest quality beers in the Capital Region and offers an impressive range of styles from hoppy IPAs to funky wild ales, and even to crisp clean lagers. I can’t wait to see what Common Roots does next, and I’m sure that they will do it well!