SPARTA — “It tastes like beer.”
With the ring of a bell and these four simple words, Krogh’s Restaurant and Brewpub released their much-anticipated cave-aged Russian imperial stout to commemorate their 15th anniversary as a brewery to hundreds of thirsty patrons on Friday, Feb. 7.
“To have the community continue to support us after all these decades is just such a great thing,” Krogh’s owner Bob Fuchs said.
Fuchs purchased the restaurant in 1981. Shortly thereafter, he hired Chef David Cooper to run the kitchen. After many years selling microbrews and seeing their ever-increasing popularity, Fuchs decided to turn the historic restaurant and bar into one of the area’s first brewpubs with the help of Cooper, an avid homebrewer.
On Feb. 7, 1999, Krogh’s Restaurant and Brew Pub sold their first beer to the public.
Cave agedThe idea for cave conditioning, or aging, their 15th anniversary release came after Cooper and brewing partner Bud Usinowicz visited Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Before refrigeration, caves and mines were often used to condition beers due to their constant temperature and humidity, Cooper explained. In a celebration of the county’s rich mining history, the brewers contacted the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg to recreate the historic brewing process.
“It was a great cross promotion, for them and for us,” Cooper said.
With the permission of the mining museum, the brewers filled a pair of oak casks with a Russian imperial stout (a strong, dark beer with flavors of roasted malt) and rolled them into the mines to age for one year. The first barrel was previously used to age bourbon, the second to condition a barley wine. As it aged, the beer “inherited” these flavors from the casks. After the aging process was complete, the beer from each cask was blended together to make the most complex brew Krogh’s has ever undertaken.
The results“One thing Dave and Bud have always been able to do is find a good balance for their beer,” Fuchs said over a glass of the anniversary stout.
Patrons overwhelmingly agreed.“Not everyone can appreciate a bourbon,” said Sparta resident Dennis Orth, “but you can appreciate the sweetness of it in here.”
Ogdensburg residents Kurt Jessel and Roseann Impellizzera, who claimed “home-field advantage” as the beer was aged in their home-town mine, found the beer to be “tremendous,” drinking very smoothly with subtle flavors of coffee.
Mike Quintas, of Green, and Henry Owen, of Mine Hill, also made the trek after seeing the aging casks on a tour of the mine with their families.
“We couldn’t figure out how to get it while we were there,” Quintas said, “so we had to wait for today.” Both were glad they did, as they claimed this was one of the best examples of the Russian imperial style they’ve ever had.
The 90-100 gallons of beer was expected to last “about a week,” Fuchs said. To check its availability, call Krogh’s at 973-729-8428 or stop by the 23 White Deer Plaza location.