Editor's note: When thinking about football and traditions, I often think back to this fun afternoon and the start of our own little post-game tradition. While I know there are several great places in the Schroon Lake Region to catch the big game on the big screen, this is how we often choose to spend our gameday. It's fun to note how much these two businesses have grown since we first printed this blog in 2014!
Taste the Trail...
So, it's a random brisk Saturday afternoon and Greg and I find ourselves passing through Schroon Lake after cheering on our local high school football team. We are surprisingly child-free and have no solid plan, when we see the sign for Paradox Brewery: "Follow The Trail" - well, it seems like pulling in is the right thing to do. So we do. I mean, we can follow directions sometimes, when we try. It’s a good call - I can tell you that before we go any further.
We park in the little lot, and proceed around the side of the building and up a staircase to the Tasting Room which is located in the back of the second story. As we enter the intimate space we are cheerfully greeted by Jenn, the wife of one of the three partners that own the brewery. She asks if we are interested in doing a tasting, and it seems like yes, yes, we are indeed. There is only one other person in the tasting room when we arrive, he had been granted a day of liberation from his wife and kids and had chosen to drive north for an hour or so and visit the Brewery. Luckily, folks at tastings seem to be a generally pretty friendly crowd, and I'm able to ask a slew of questions without getting the "shh, I'm trying to relax here" look. Which is good - because it wasn’t quite a case of 20 questions, but I like to talk.
A few interesting facts: Paradox Brewery has been in this little location off of exit 27 N for about a year and a half now. They have a tent outside in the summer, but in the fall and winter, the tastings move inside. They have just signed with Dutchess Beer Distributors, and while right now their brews can be found in approximately 80 restaurants on the Northway route spanning from Saratoga to Schroon, they will be expanding south of Albany within the year.
There were 7 beers on tap ranging from their most popular core brew aptly named the Schroon Ale, to a lager, red ale, IPA, IIPA, porter, ESB and stout. Something for every taste. We had just finished our tasting and were debating which to order a pint of - I chose the Red Ale, Greg went with the Schroon Ale, when the wave hit. And, by wave, I mean within 15 minutes approximately 20 people filed in. This is the norm so we were told.
We talked to a group of 4 visitors from Hoosic Falls - they were celebrating as they traveled south after watching their high school football team win the quarter finals which they were playing against Saranac Lake. (We had quite a good debate with them as we, too, had been at the game - rooting for the opposing team!) There was a woman visiting from the Keys, she’d heard that she, "had to visit Paradox if she went near Schroon Lake."
There were two jovial couples that were up for the weekend staying at a local camp. They, like us, saw the sign and just had to stop and check it out. And, of course, there was a peppering of locals bringing in their growlers for refills - an awesome thing about local breweries: get the recyclable growler, and you can feel environmentally responsible every time you fill it up!
On the way out, we stopped downstairs to talk to Jenn’s husband, Vaughn, and get a quick tour and history of the brewery. It’s a pretty impressive setup — especially when you know that not that long ago this building was the old South Schroon Lake Post Office.
All in all - we say, it’s definitely worth the stop. The Tasting Room is usually open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Check out their website for exact hours and to find out what they’re brewing this week! Oh, and this just in - right as we left the Brewery, they found out they won their first award: Silver Medal for their Paradox Pumpkin Lager at the Great International Beer and Cider Competition in Providence,RI. Ah, to say we tried them when...
Fire, Pharoah & Fries...
So, while beer was a great starting point for our evening, we needed something a bit more substantial after a day spent outdoors in the 30 degree temps. Time to find a place for dinner. On the way to the Brewery we had passed a couple of guys starting a fire next to a sign for Sticks & Stones Wood Fired Bistro & Bar. As we headed back toward the Village, the fire was roaring and the parking lot packed - always a good sign; go where the locals go!
We entered the restaurant and I have to admit I was thoroughly impressed with the friendly staff and cozy decor. We took a quick look around and while there were tables available in the quieter dining room, we chose to sit in a booth near the bar. There was a serious mix of customers. The bar was lined with young couples laughing, 40-50 year old men watching the football game, and a group of ladies celebrating a birthday. Seated on one side of us was a family with 2 small children, and on the other was an older couple that reminded me of my grandparents as they shared their cheesecake. And, while I talked with the locals, Greg was happy to relax and catch up on the game - best of both worlds.
Our waitress was super-friendly and very attentive, and we soon had our orders placed and drinks delivered. I tried one of their specialty cocktails - the Pharaoh Mountain; totally refreshing, I will be trying to replicate that at home! Greg loves eggplant, and we both enjoy a good wing, and we were not disappointed when our appetizers came out. The eggplant was delicious - seriously, order it. Seriously.
For dinner, we went with the recommendation of our waitress: Greg order the Blackened Chicken; I went with Pretzel Burger and sweet potato fries. I will say this - I am a french fry snob. I love fries. Love them. Really, I can’t turn down a good fry. These were hands-down the best sweet potato fries - actually, wedges - that I have ever had. And, paired with the Honey Mustard that was delivered with Greg’s chicken, it was the perfect combination.
Of course, Sticks & Stones is known for their wood fired oven. And, while we didn’t order their renowned pizza or salmon for dinner, I would have felt remiss ordering anything but the wood fired Apple Crisp (topped with vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce) for dessert. And, since I hate feeling remiss… yum.
Drinks, Dinner, Now What!?
Touchdown! ADK gameday roundup: