Welcome to Saranac Lake, the Adirondacks' coolest place, where the beer flows as freely as the Saranac River.
Once you’re done playing outside all day, it’s time to stop in to the Blue Line Brewery to try out some excellent local brews.
Blue Line is a newer establishment, opened a few years ago in what used to be a car wash. The beer has evolved a bit since the place first opened, but it has been exciting to watch the brewery grow from a tasting room with some small brewery equipment to a full pub with an upgraded system and plenty of distribution!
I stopped in this week with my friend Morgan to see how far the beer had come and had a great time.
I figured it was probably a good idea to order a flight, which included all seven beers they currently had on tap and cost $10. The owner, Mark Gillis, explained to me the order he poured them in, and then left me to taste each variety.
It started at the bottom right with the top beer on the list, Bluff Island Gold, then proceeded clockwise around the circle.
The last two were beers not on the menu: Balanced Rock Wheat Ale, "an American wheat with German hops and naturally carbonated with maple syrup" that was nice and smooth, and their Black Fly IPA, a very dark IPA that's a little heavy but plenty delicious.
I'm usually a very much a hops kind of girl, so I was surprised that on this evening, my favorite was the Split Rock Ale. The menu isn't kidding when it highlights its drinkability and calls it extremely sessionable.
I generally enjoy the Leaning Pine, but it wasn't quite hitting the spot for me that night. The milk stout was smoky and thick, nice, but a little too much for me on a humid summer evening. The red was surprisingly hoppy. It wasn't quite what I expect from a red, but as I said, I love hops, so it worked for me.
Morgan, who was very excited to be included in one of my blog posts, walked in and immediately ordered a pint of his favorite, the Leaning Pine IPA.
The leaning pine is the logo of the local Paul Smith’s College, and proceeds from each Leaning Pine IPA sold go to the Paul Smith’s College Alumni Association. Morgan tried a few of the beers in my flight, but he stuck with his reliable IPA for the duration of our visit.
I love going to this place with Morgan because he’s a big Yankees fan while I love the Red Sox, and Mark is a huge Red Sox fan. The walls are plastered with Red Sox memorabilia, Mark always has the Sox game on TV, and the menu is sprinkled with Red Sox and Boston references, including the Yawkee Way Sausage, a beer-battered Italian sausage that is absolutely amazing, and the Yankee Fan Special pizza, topped with extra anchovies.
We decided to order some food. I’ve had the pizzas here before and I know they are fantastic; some of my friends say they are the best in town. I thought about sticking to pizza since I knew I’d love it, but instead I decided to branch out and try something new. I ordered the small steak and cheese sandwich. Six dollars for a half of a sandwich that is super good and filling? Yes, please.
Morgan got some wings. I haven’t gone many places where Morgan didn’t get wings. He let me have one and they were great — just crispy enough without being too crispy, and plenty of meat. Not a ton of sauce, though. I’ll probably order extra sauce on the side the next time I get an order of wings for myself there. They also come with a side of sliced green peppers rather than carrots or celery, which makes me happy.
This place also has some pretty amazing weekly specials. Tuesday and Saturday seem like particularly good deals.
It had been raining a bit when we arrived, so the upstairs dining porch — which has a really nice view of McKenzie Mountain — was closed. But after it cleared up outside, employees opened the garage door in the front of the pub to let some light and air in.
The garage door isn’t the only remaining piece of the car wash that had been there for two decades. The counter from the car wash was built right into the middle of the bar.
A chalkboard above the bar displays the number of pints of beer and pizzas sold as compared to the number of car washes.
They’re starting to add up!
Other places to wet your whistle
Blue Line is the only brewery in the Saranac Lake area, but there are a few other places that make a good stop for any beer aficionado. Grizle T’s probably has the most taps, with the best selection on them, in the area.
They have a big board that shows what beers are up next in the lineup, too, so you know if there’s extra incentive to help finish up a keg.
Right across the street from Griz, the Waterhole has done a great job of increasing the range of bottled and canned beers for sale since new owners took over the business this winter.
If you’re looking to buy a sixer or otherwise stock up, stop at Lakeview Deli, Fusion Market or, if you’re headed that way, the Brighton Mini-Mart in Gabriels. With Paul Smith’s College a few miles down the road, the Mini-Mart makes a killing by having an excellent selection of brews that will likely surprise the casual traveler.
What's brewing in the 'dacks this week: