In this occasional series, CITY has probed the intersection of beer and food at brewpubs in Rochester and its suburbs. This time, we extend the reach to Honeoye Falls and Canandaigua. As with previous visits, because few brewpubs have established or formalized food-beer pairings, we relied on our own instincts, along with occasional helpful advice from knowledgeable servers, to guide our choices. With a few exceptions, this most recent undertaking confirmed that most local brewpubs place more focus on beer, leaving any food offerings to fulfill the fundamental function of sating beer-induced munchies.
When the dean of local craft brewers, CB Craft Brewers (300 Village Square Boulevard; 624-4386; cbcraftbrewers.com), opened in Honeoye Falls in 1997, local craft beers were scarcely a gleam in beer drinkers' eyes. In the 20 years since, myriad local breweries have popped up to provide a panoply of craft brews. CB broadened its scope by opening Pint & Goblet Tavern within the brewpub in 2011.
My girlfriend, Molly, and I visited Pint & Goblet shortly after Thanksgiving, when CB still had its luscious but not sweet Thanks-Gibbon Sweet Potato Marshmallow Ale on tap. With its marshmallow undertones and finish, this brew accentuated the vegetal toppings of the Loaded Nachos ($10), which use CB's Caged Alpha Monkey IPA in the melted cheese.
The Night Owl Cream Porter is smoky with assertive coffee notes, and tasty on its own, but tended to overpower the nachos. The Wee Heavy Winter Ale — also rich and smoky, with an edgy flavor — harmonized with the Spicy Tavern Mac ($6.50 for a cup; $9.50 for a bowl), a mac-and-cheese dish made with Caged Alpha Monkey and house-made Buffalo sauce. And the MacBubba Scotch Ale, with its full-bodied, earthy, citrusy profile, enhanced my Owl Burger ($11.50), which incorporates the Night Owl Cream Porter to caramelize the onions perched atop the burger, along with crumbled bleu cheese and crisp bacon.
Since 2010, five breweries have opened in Canandaigua, three of them clustered on Lakeshore Drive at the north end of Canandaigua Lake. One of the two with kitchens — Twisted Rail Brewing (169 Lakeshore Drive; 396-0683; twistedrailbrewing.com) — opened in 2013 and moved to its present location in 2016. Twisted Rail operates a second brewpub in Macedon and will soon open a tasting room in Geneva.
We visited Twisted Rail's cozy confines on a recent Saturday night and were impressed with its extensive beer menu. The affable bartenders offered us a new house special: flatbread pizza ($8), Railroad Tie Pretzels ($8), and two pints of beer ($6 each) for $20. Neither the pizza — to which we added pepperoni and (scantly scattered) artichoke hearts (50 cents per topping) — nor the pretzels were notable, but came out of the kitchen quickly and filled the bill as solid complements to our beers.
Twisted Rail's version of Scotch Ale is smoother and mellower than many, but didn't stand up well to the sharp flavors of the beer cheese (made with Ale Aboard APA) and the grainy mustard accompanying the pretzels, but it played nicely with the pizza. In contrast, the robust, espresso-like characteristics of Vokzal Russian Imperial Stout elevated the flavor profile of the pretzels and dips. This stout had a similar effect on the otherwise bland pizza.
The creamy and dry, dark and mysterious Oatmeal Stout we quaffed added needed depth to the beef-on-weck Stem Winder Sandwich ($11.50), which has a good quality (but not quantity of) roast beef, however a mushy roll and tame horseradish detracted from the experience.
Three Huskies Brewing (401 Lakeshore Drive; 396-0001; threehuskiesbrewing.com) which opened in 2014, is tucked in the back but integrated into Dobber's Sports Bar and Grill. My friend John met me there during dinner hour and noted the full parking lot — a good omen for food as a focal point.
John started with the Sickle Tail West Coast IPA, a well-balanced, not overly-fruity or hoppy brew that, as he put it: "Does not blow up your tongue like some IPAs." I began with a Snow Nose Scotch Ale, which was less boozy and more malty than most Scotch ales.
Because Dobber's existed as a bar and grill before Three Huskies took residence, the menu is more wide-ranging than many brewpubs, and includes a homemade soup du jour. On the night we visited, it was a delectable sausage-and-bean soup ($4.99 for a cup; $5.99 for a bowl). Chock full of enough sausage to qualify as a stew, with a tangy tomato base, this hearty dish paired naturally with my ale.
We enjoyed our respective brews with two creative chicken wing choices ($5.99 for five; $10.49 for 10; served with French fries): salt and vinegar wings — exactly what they sound like and better than expected — and a yet-unnamed concoction made with a tangy, mustardy, mildly-spicy sauce infused with Three Bitches Black IPA. We each also ordered a Vanilla Cold Brewed Coffee Stout, which surprisingly didn't overpower the wings, although something hoppier would've been a better match. The favored partner for this stout was the Big Mike Burger ($9.99): a garlic sourdough grilled cheese sandwich with a cheeseburger inside. The bread was expertly browned and the burger was cooked to a textbook medium.
As more breweries ferment our libational landscape, we envision food playing a more central role and we will be there with fork, spoon, knife, napkin, pint glass, and pen, ready to report back to our readers.