Monday, December 1, 2014

Brewpub review: Galaxy Brewing Company (Binghamton, NY)

I had never considered Binghamton much of a beer destination, as it’s not an area I hear a lot of beer nerds clamoring over. However, in recent years quite a few breweries have been sprouting up in the vicinity: Water Street Brewing, The North Brewery, Binghamton Brewing, and Galaxy Brewing.


Galaxy Brewing (1)

I was first introduced to Galaxy back in April at the TAP NY Beer Fest. I tried a few samples of their beers and they were all pretty good. I told them I would stop by their brewpub sometime as I have family in Binghamton and I’m sure they’d like to check it out as well. So, on Saturday, my girlfriend and I drove down to Binghamton and went to Galaxy for lunch along with my sister and her husband. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I had a feeling we were in for a good time as soon as we walked in the door.

Galaxy Brewing (3)

It’s clear that Galaxy’s brewpub is brand spanking new. It has an extremely modern atmosphere to it: everything is sleek, shiny, organized and clean, with the tables spaced pretty far apart. The bar itself is pretty lengthy with two big-screen HDTVs and another TV serving as a menu display. They also have a well-stocked bar with liquor and wine selections.

Galaxy Brewing (5)

As you can probably tell by now, whenever I visit a brewpub for the first time (or for the sake of a review), I like to order a sampler flight of every beer available on tap. Galaxy had 13 in-house brews available on tap (a few were on nitro and one was on cask). That selection alone is quite impressive for a brewpub. A flight of four 4oz samples is $7 ($0.44 per ounce), and in order to try all 13 brews, I of course had to order three flights for $21 plus another $1.75 for the thirteenth sample. But it wasn’t just me trying the beer, my girlfriend and sister helped out – which was a good idea considering there was 52 total ounces of beer (that’s the equivalent of 3 ¼ pints). And I’m happy to say that all the beers we tried were good, with several of them being really excellent. Let’s go down the list:

Galaxy Brewing (7)

Kopernik Kolsch (4.7% ABV): I’m not usually a fan of this style, but this was pretty interesting. It seemed slightly Americanized , but was otherwise a classic example. No complaints.

St. Stusan (6.5% ABV Belgian ale): This is an award-winning brew and I can see why. Huge Belgian character with plenty of Banana and other fruity notes and a hint of spice. Everyone at the table agreed this was the best beer of the flight.

#42 ESB (6.7% ABV): I’m rarely impressed when smalltown brewpubs attempt authentic British-style beer, but Galaxy got this one right. Exactly to spec in every way.

Galactic Silk (6.1% ABV amber ale): On nitro, which was interesting because I don’t recall ever having an amber ale on nitro before. Seemed overtly mild, but the smoothness was nice. Not bad, but probably the most unimpressive beer on the menu.

Galaxy Brewing (8)

NY Attitude (7.4% ABV Belgian ale): Another Belgian pale-ish ale, though this had a lot of spiciness not unlike a Saison. Pretty sure I detected Sorachi Ace hops. Did not drink like a big beer, though.

Andromeda IPA (6.7% ABV): I completely agree with the brewery’s description: “Hoppy, citrusy, with notes of passion fruit and other tropical fruits. An East Coast style India Pale Ale that is smooth and well balanced, with an intense hop aroma and an emphasis on hop taste, combined with a moderate bitterness.” Very good IPA. My girlfriend ordered a full pint ($6.50) of this to go with her meal.

Omega Dubbel (9.7% ABV): This one took me by surprise, as I find that breweries that don’t specialize in Belgian-style beers don’t tend to pull of an authentic dubbel very well. Yet again, Galaxy impressed me by making a beer that was not only exactly-to-spec, but a great example of the style as well. This could compare to an Allagash or Ommegang brew. One of the best beers of the day for me.

Pulsar Porter (4.7% ABV): Pretty standard pub-style porter. No frills. No mistakes. I believe this was on nitro as well.

Galaxy Brewing (9)

The Void (7.6% ABV Belgian stout): It’s extremely rare that I find a supposed “Belgian-style” stout that really works, yet this one did – and pretty well at that. While not as good as their other Belgians, this was still a solid and interesting offering.

Sour Cherry Stout (7% ABV): I was eager to try this beer, since the name alone is quite enticing. I was a little disappointed that the beer wasn’t quite as sour or cherry-tasting as I’d prefer. It was more of a standard stout with some cherry flavor and sourness on the finish. Not bad, but could be great with some improvements. This was on cask, by the way.

Smoked Honey Stout (7.5% ABV): A similar experience as the previous beer, though the smoke and honey were a little more pronounced this time. Good, but could be better.

PANIC! (8.8% Russian Imperial Stout): Big and bold with huge chocolate, coffee and sour grape notes. A big improvement over the previous few beers. This would make a great dessert brew.

Ghost of Christmas Ale (9% ABV winter warmer): This was a unique twist on the classic “winter warmer” style. It appears to be an imperial porter at the base with raisin, orange peel, chocolate and Ghost Chile Peppers added to it. Strong notes of dark chocolate and spiciness with a pleasant warming sensation on the finish. It was surprisingly good, but just 1/3rd of a sample was enough to satisfy.

Overall, I’d have to say I was quite impressed by the quality, quantity, and variety of the Galaxy lineup. They seem to prefer big beers in their portfolio, as the average weight of this flight came in at 7.1% ABV. It’s no wonder I had a pretty healthy buzz going only halfway through the flight (I tend to drink quickly).

Galaxy Brewing (14)
As for the food, it was just as good as the beer. We ordered a dozen chicken wings ($11) as an appetizer and they were some of the biggest wings I’ve seen in a place like this. We were all surprised by the amount of seasoning for a supposedly mild sauce, which was fine by me since I like to actually be able to taste and appreciate the flavor rather than battle the Capsaicin.

For our meals, everyone but me ordered a burger (though they all ordered different burgers). They were quite beefy with plenty of toppings ($12-$13). I ordered a pulled pork sandwich ($11), which was quite sweet and savory with a touch of crunch to it from the citrus kale slaw topping. All entrees come with a variety of sides, though three of us opted for the mac & cheese while my girlfriend got the seasoned fries. The mac & cheese was better described as shells and cheese, not traditional elbow macaroni. And while tasty with a nice seasoning, it was more “saucy” than it was cheesy per se. We all enjoyed it, though.

Galaxy Brewing (19)The four of us took over 90 minutes to get through the flights as well as our meals, which is a bit longer than I prefer to spend in a restaurant for one meal (especially lunch), but at no point did it seem like time was lagging. Our server was nice and knew the food and beer menus inside and out. Though we were seated quickly, it did take a while before we placed our orders, though he deliberately waited until we had finished the appetizers and most of the flight before our entrees came out. I probably could have gone for dessert, but everyone else was stuffed by the time they finished their meals.

After all was said and done the check came to $102.69, which really isn’t too bad since that averages out to about $25 per person, which is what I tend to spend when dining out at similar venues. I paid the tab and my sister and her husband left a $20 tip.

I’d say it was definitely worth the trip to Binghamton to check out Galaxy Brewing Company. On a return trip, I’d probably stick to one pint (of the St. Stusan or Andromeda IPA) and try a different appetizer. I would definitely recommend a group of three or four people try a sampler flight of all the beers on tap, as they were all enjoyable.