Friday, August 29, 2014

Brewpub review: The Gilded Otter

Gilded Otter (1)Back in November of 2013 I won $50 in gift certificates to The Gilded Otter in a raffle. I put them in a drawer and just kind of forgot about them. I found them recently, so I took my girlfriend Renee down to New Paltz where we met my friends Gary and Melissa for lunch on a Saturday. I have to say the whole experience was a pleasantly surprising.
Gilded Otter (7)I always thought New Paltz was much further away from Albany than it is, but it’s a little over an hour drive to Exit 18. The brewpub is located only a couple miles off the Thruway, however, traffic was backed up all the way to the toll plaza. It took us another 20 minutes just to go the last two miles! Chalk it up to tourist season I guess.

Anyway, the parking lot was nearly full when we arrived and I was worried we were going to have a long wait for a table, but when we walked in I noticed there were plenty of tables available (the restaurant may have been at about 50% capacity at that point). The building appears to be brand new, and has an overtly “modern” look to it. There’s seating in the main dining room; on the second floor; in the bar area; and on the patio outside. Not quite as big as Brown’s here in Troy, but close to it.
Gilded Otter (5)

Gilded Otter (12)Our friends were waiting at the bar, which is also quite large. The brewing equipment is located behind the bar with some fermenting tanks located in the dining room. The four of us grabbed a table adjacent to the bar. Renee and I ordered the sampler flight, which included eight 3oz samples for only $8 ($0.33 per ounce). That’s quite a bargain compared to some other brewpubs. I must admit that I did not have high expectations for the beer as I cannot recall any trusted sources complimenting this brewery. So I was actually shocked (yes, shocked) by the quality of the beers, especially considering they’re all relatively light.

Katzenjammer Kölsch (4.5% ABV): I’m just not a fan of the Kölsch style, so the fact this beer was a genuinely tasty, refreshing brew, really impressed me. In fact, that’s a sign of a quality brewery – when they make a good beer in a style you don’t usually enjoy.
Dusseldorf Altbier (5.2% ABV): Hmm… back-to-back niche German styles? That’s odd for a brewpub. Yet, just like the Kölsch, this Altbier was equally impressive as it exemplifies the style perfectly. Renee liked this so much she got a full pint with her meal.
Three Pines IPA (5.7% ABV): I was a little skeptical about this one since the alcohol is rather low for an IPA, yet one sip and I was sold. It has a delicious orange flavor, almost juicy. Some pine on the finish. Technically that’s a generic palette, but for whatever reason this was more than just an ordinary IPA. Melissa got a full pint of this brew.
Gilded Otter (24)Hefeweizen (5% ABV): Another German style beer that’s brewed exactly to spec. It has huge banana and bubblegum flavors and aromas. This is exactly how I like my hefes. I liked it so much I ordered a full pint with my lunch.
Stone House Oatmeal Stout (5.5% ABV): It seems like every brewpub makes a little stout like this, though few are memorable. This was a surprisingly robust and complex brew with notes of chocolate, coffee and tobacco. It’s probably the best beer on the menu and would make an excellent liquid dessert. Gary chose this for his full pour.
Back Porch Summer Lager (3.9% ABV): This is the token fruit beer you see at every brewpub, but done as an amber lager instead of an ale. It didn’t feel like a super light or watery lager, this actually had body to it and tasted like real fruit, not “natural flavors.” They even threw a few blueberries right into the tasting glass (I could’ve done without that, though).
Black & Blue: A blend of the oatmeal stout and blueberry lager. The fruit flavor completely dominates the palette, so it doesn’t really taste like a blend – just a really dark fruit lager. Not bad, though.
Gilded Otter (21)They also had Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider as a guest tap, which was included in the flight. It was okay I guess, but I’m not much of a cider drinker. May I recommend bringing in Albany’s own Ninepin Cider as a guest tap?

As for the food, it was really good. The menu is pretty typical fare for a venue of the kind: an assortment of appetizers; burgers; salads; sandwiches; personal pizzas; and steaks, pasta, and seafood on the dinner entrée menu.

I ordered the Philly cheese steak pizza, which is exactly what it sounds like: a pizza with shredded steak, onions, mushrooms, and peppers. There was plenty of cheese, and the pizza was nice and soft, but not dripping with grease. Definitely one of the better personal pizzas I can remember having. Renee got the Cuban sandwich that came with a hefty side of fries (half of which I ate and they were very good). Gary and Melissa each ordered chicken Caesar salads, and they both enjoyed it immensely.

Gilded Otter (25)What’s interesting is that the menu specifically states NO SEPARATE CHECKS at the bottom of nearly every page. That’s odd, and kind of annoying. However, when the waitress brought the menus to the table, she said she would have no trouble splitting the check if we wanted separate bills. That was nice of her, especially considering it wouldn’t have been a problem for us (she split the checks anyway – yaye!).

As for the service, it was friendly and accurate, albeit a tad slow. This might have been due to the fact we were technically sitting in the bar area and the waitress was actually one of the barmaids who worked both the bar and the adjacent dining area. I’ll let that slide even though slow service is usually a major grievance for me when it comes to dining out (see my World of Beer review for example).

The four of us had an absolutely great time over lunch and drinks for about 90 minutes. The atmosphere was great in pretty much all aspects: good-looking décor; ample lighting; not too loud; pleasant patrons; and good food and drinks. Our tab came to about $48 after tax, and I left a $10 tip. Gary and Melissa’s was about the same. We all agreed it was totally worth the money and we would definitely return anytime. I think I’d like to go back in the winter, because if their summer offerings were this good, I’d imagine their winter seasonals will be even better.

Gilded Otter (26)Quick bonus review: Bacchus Restaurant
It was still early in the day and we didn’t have anywhere to be, so the four of us walked a couple blocks over to Bacchus Restaurant, which also brews their own beer (not to be confused with Bacchus Brewing Company near Ithaca). This is an old school pub, reminiscent of something you’d see in a trendy downtown area. There’s nothing modern about the look at all, everything’s vintage.

They had a pretty impressive tap selection, though they only had two beers of their own: “Kamehameha,” an 8% ABV IPA brewed with Brettanomyces and real pineapple; and “Uncle Ron,” a 9% ABV American Strong Ale. I was hoping for a short pour of the IPA, but the shallowest glass was 10oz, which I wound up splitting with Renee.

Gilded Otter (28)This was an interesting beer to say the least. More of a pale ale in that it wasn’t especially bitter, though the pineapple definitely carried the bulk of the palette. The Brett character was tame, imparting just slight tartness to complement the pineapple. It was good, but with a few tweaks I could see it being great.

Gary got a full pour of “Uncle Ron” and I tried a few sips. It was sweet and nutty with plenty of hops, but nothing aggressive or cloying. It reminded me of Stone’s “Double Bastard Ale,” but much more approachable.

I could definitely go all the way back to New Paltz just for dinner and drinks at this restaurant, especially considering they have a classy pool hall in the adjacent room.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thanks for the review. I love Bacchus and this looks like another reason to go to New Paltz.