The Beer Nut: Cooperstown Brewing hopes to hit a home run
Baseball season may be nearly over, but fans can enjoy the national pastime in bottled beer form all year round with Cooperstown Brewing Company.
Like nearly everything in the little upstate New York town that's home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Cooperstown Brewing Company relies heavily on baseball for the names of its beers, with every beer featuring some sort of baseball theme on the label.
The 18-year-old brewery (which is actually in Milford, N.Y., just over the Cooperstown town line) features English-style ales, relying on more subtlety than in-your-face hop bombs, high-alcohol barleywines or imperial stouts.
The brewery itself is worth a visit. I went out there a few years ago. The tours are informative, with a lot of details about the brewing industry and the history of brewing in the region. The area used to be known as one of the hop growing regions of the country and they still grow some hops on the brewery grounds.
The beers themselves are all solid, particularly if you're looking for lower-alcohol options.
Old Slugger is Cooperstown's flagship beer. It is an English-style pale ale. It is on the maltier side than American pale ales, but with a nice hop bite in the finish. The beer is relatively light on the palate. It is one of the brewery's stronger beers at 5.5 percent alcohol by volume.
The Nine Man ale is a light golden ale. Along with barley malt, wheat malt is also used. The Nine Man ale is probably the closest to an American-style ale brewed by Cooperstown, using typical West Coast hops, giving it a slight piney hop aroma. This beer also has the lowest alcohol percentage, coming in at an extremely sessionable 4.3 percent ABV.
The brewery's best beer is its Benchwarmer, an English-style porter. Cooperstown makes this beer higher in alcohol than many of today's English porters, coming it at 6.4 percent, but according to them, this is how original porters were brewed.
The flavor is wonderful. There are a lot of coffee-like aromas in this, with a touch of chocolate on the finish. Benchwarmer has a nice warming quality to it, making it a great beer for a cool fall night.
Another strong entry from Cooperstown is its Strike Out stout. This is a traditional oatmeal stout, low in alcohol (4.6 percent ABV), and with a nice, creamy body. This has a lot of coffee roastiness, and the use of chocolate malts gives this beer hints of chocolate flavors throughout. The chocolate is not a dominant flavor, but just enough for someone to notice it.
Back Yard is Cooperstown Brewing Company's India pale. Like the rest of its lineup, Cooperstown's IPA is decidedly English style. Unlike American IPAs, the Back Yard hops are a little more subtle.
However, there is still plenty of hop bitterness, with more grassy and earthy flavors rather than piney or citrusy. Back Yard comes in at a solid 6.1 percent ABV.
Cooperstown's strongest beer is the Pride of Milford, which is 7.7 percent ABV. The Pride of Milford is an English strong ale. This has a lot of fruity flavors, but no fruit is used. This is from the yeast. It is also sweet, but not overwhelming to make it undrinkable.
Pride of Milford is definitely a sipping beer, but it is worth trying.
If I have one complaint about Cooperstown Brewing Company, it is that all of it's labels are baseball-themed, yet they only have six beers. You'd think they'd brew nine beers so they could fill in a full baseball lineup.
Norman Miller is a MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff writer. Email email@example.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out the Beer Nut blog at blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/realbeernut or on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/beernutnorman.