In the heart of the Adirondacks lies the little village of Lake Placid, New York. It has hosted two Winter Olympic games; many of the venues still existing today. Located on Main Street is The Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood restaurant. What many people do not realize is that it is also the home of the Great Adirondack Brewing Company.
The Great Adirondack Brewing Company started back in 1996 in Plattsburgh, NY. One year later the family moved the brewery and restaurant to Lake Placid. The brewery has a seven barrel stainless-steel brew system and produces about 1500 kegs a year. This allows them to create many different styles simultaneously so there is plenty on tap to try.
Here are the beers that were available at the time of our visit with my tasting notes. The first four beers, plus the root beer, are available year round; the rest are seasonal.
- 4.8% ABV
- Golden Ale
- Clean and crisp. Accessible to people new to craft beer.
- 5.3% ABV
- Red Ale
- Named after a fly used by fly fishermen around the world.
- East Kent Goldings and Fuggle hops blended with 6 varieties of English malt.
- Excellent maltiness, toffee, and just a hint of spices.
- 6.6% ABV
- West Coast IPA
- Dry hopped with Cascade and Citra hops.
- A very popular beer for the brewery.
- Lots of pine and citrus, not really my style.
- 8.1% ABV
- Belgian “Dubbel” Style
- Another one of their most popular beers.
- Spicy, great clove and banana notes. I liked it a lot.
- 5.2% ABV
- Use four different malts.
- Nutty, biscuit flavor. Just a hint of old book. Nice dry finish.
- 5.4% ABV
- German Wheat Beer
- Fermented with special German Weizen yeast, providing a hint of banana.
- Cloudy appearance due to being unfiltered. Some slightly sour notes.
- Lots of clove present throughout the aroma and taste.
- 5.3% ABV
- English hops add a touch of bitterness.
- Dark and smooth. Hints of oatmeal and chocolate.
- Very mild root beer aroma and a restrained sweetness.
- A good root beer that I could drink an entire pint of as it is not overly cloying.
They have quite a lot to offer every beer drinker. The root beer is a nice addition for those who do not drink alcohol. The cost to try all they have on tap is $14 dollars which did not seem too bad considering all we got to taste. The sample flight comes out in an Adirondack style rack which is very appropriate for the region. While there you can also purchase a meal, which we did not have a chance to do. However, all the entrees I saw coming out of the kitchen looked quite delicious. We hung out at the bar discussing the brewery with the knowledgeable bartender.
The current brewmaster is the grandson of the owner. He is now the third brewer, so there is quite a collection of recipes available to keep things diverse. The brewery is trying to use local ingredients such as honey and some of the hops. Located in the heart of the Adirondacks probably makes it much more difficult to find locally grown hops!
Great Adirondack Brewing Company also has a presence at many of the local bars. They are looking to expand to another building allowing for increased production and the ability to distribute their beer further out in the world.
While at the bar, we noticed some unique features. The walls are covered with police badges from all over. It started with the owner, formerly in the military, who put some of his old badges up. Soon, a tradition was started and people began bringing police badges from all around the country. It is a fascinating collection and gives you lots to look at while enjoying the beer. Along the back wall there is a shelf filled with eclectic and whimsical toy figures, cars, trains, and more. It is unexpected and fun; showing that the restaurant can stray from looking like every other Adirondack eatery in the area.
The brewer’s pride is exemplified by the beer listing published on a chalkboard. It provides a detailed description of every beer with its ABV. Additionally, they include the brew date and bottling date. This is a great way to see how fresh your beer is and I would love to see more breweries publish this information.
The Great Adirondack Brewing Company is certainly a hidden gem within Lake Placid that is worthy of a visit. Even when doing my research in advance of the trip, I did not realize that this was a brewery until some locals pointed it out to me. I was pleasantly surprised and really appreciated the many styles available to try and buy. Their beer has won numerous awards at the Great American Beer Fest and World Beer Cup over the years, helping to give them better exposure to the rest of the country. Be sure to stop in and try some of their brews when you visit Lake Placid!
Update: July 23rd, 2014
We returned to the Great Adirondack Brewing Company in the hopes of trying some new beers and having a delicious meal. The restaurant was crowded but we were seated quickly and ordered our drinks and food. There were three new beers on tap for us to try.
- 5% ABV
- 60% wheat, and 40% malted barley with a German weizen yeast.
- Lots of bubblegum and clove, very flavorful with a nice clean finish.
- 5.3% ABV
- Unfiltered European Pilsner
- Light and pleasant. An average pilsner that is pretty well made.
- 7% ABV
- Great American Beer Fest Gold, Bronze, and Silver Medal winner
- Nicely layered flavors of coffee and chocolate. Full bodied, rich, and delicious.
It should be noted that some of their beers have undergone name changes. The Ausable Wulff Red Ale is now called Irish Red Ale, and the John Brown Pale Ale has been relabeled as John Brown IPA. It is sad to see the unique name of the red ale change, but I agree with calling the Pale Ale an IPA as it is closer to that style.
Dinner was ordered next, and that’s when things began to fall apart. We ordered an appetizer that came highly recommended by our waitress. We were looking forward to it, since we had not eaten a real lunch and were quite hungry. However, our meals arrived with no sign of the appetizer coming out. Our waitress told us she would go grab the appetizer as she had forgotten about it; however we stopped her because an appetizer after the main meal defeats the purpose. Unfortunately she didn’t seem to care or realize that. At the end of the meal she did offer us each another beer to make up her mistake, but we politely declined as we didn’t need another drink and were just ready to move on at that point. As for the food, the portions were generous, the quality was good, but the prices still seemed a bit high, even though we were in a touristy area. For example, Tim’s haddock fish and chips cost $24.00 and my Chicken Alfredo cost even more than that.
This was not my favorite visit to the brewery and restaurant. The beer was good, and I especially liked the Whiteface Stout; however, the food was average and the service was less than adequate. Had we received an improved experience from the waitress, I may have felt better about the price of the meal. Perhaps next time we are in Lake Placid, we will just stop in for a beer and skip the meal.
If you are looking to dig into the history of the Winter Olympics, then the Olympic Center and Lake Placid Olympic Museum is a must see destination. This complex contains three ice rinks and a museum devoted to all aspects of the winter games including the athletes, their equipment; even the torches themselves!
Great Adirondack Brewing Company
442 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY 12946
Visited July 24, 2013, Revisited July 23, 2014
Blog post written by Thomas Andersen.