“Ah, good ol’ trustworthy beer. My love for you will never die.”

-Homer Simpson

In 1989, Christmas came early. The pilot episode of The Simpsons aired on December 17, and it has remained on our screens ever since. Not only does the show hold first place as America's longest running animated series — although The Bugs Bunny Show had numerous spin-offs, giving the show a collective forty-year run in various forms — it also holds the prizes of America's longest-running sitcom and the longest-running American scripted primetime television series. (Now would be the time for fans to insert Nelson's infamous "Ha-ha!")

With my family's fandom for the series came my knowledge and appreciation of Duff Beer and its iconically simple red and white label, complete with bold lettering — and Homer's ensuing belches of satisfaction. Beer was simple back then, at least in my world. It wasn't my cup of tea until my mid-20s before quickly coming to learn I had been cursed with an allergy to beer. That said, I never had to take much time to learn the world of beer and all its evolutionary glory. For all I needed to know, the fictitious Duff Beer could be where beer begins and ends. But for beer connoisseurs around the world, this thankfully isn't the case. The styles of available beers seem endless: Lager. Pilsner. Kolsch. Ale. Halfweizen. Wheat. Saison. Stout. Sour. Port. Lambic. IPA (all ten million of them, or so it seems). The list goes on, and on, and on, and on. 

A flight of beers is served at the bar.
Our breweries offer flights — perfect for trying the wide variety of beers hand-crafted in Lake Placid!

Craft beer has experienced an especially rapid growth, near and far. It isn't a new fad — far from it. Craft beer goes back as far as the 1960s and 1970s as homebrewing began to become a hobby. But the 1990s saw an uptick in microbreweries, gaining popularity from year to year with no end in sight. If my beer allergy disappeared and I was able to enjoy sampling carefully crafted brews with the rest of the world, I would frankly be overwhelmed. Thankfully, my only job would be to enjoy. The brewers behind the beers are the ones who get to indulge in the science, theory, and evolution behind the frosty beers that so many enjoy. And right here in Lake Placid, we have three of the best brewers you could hope to have: Simon Walder at Great Adirondack Brewing Company, TJ Meyer at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, and Jason Scull at Big Slide Brewery & Public House.

Each brewer was kind enough to sit with me, share a bit of their background, and some of their favorite elements of brewing — and drinking — some of your favorite local brews!

Great Adirondack Brewing Company

Head Brewer: Simon Walder (head brewer for 6 months)

A classic car is parked in front of the entrance to the Great Adirondack Brewing Company.
Whether you're arriving in style or refueling after a day in the mountains, make sure to stop at Great Adirondack Brewing Company!

What is the story behind your interest in brewing and how you became the head brewer at Great Adirondack Brewing Company? 

I'm a long time homebrewer turned pro. I've been homebrewing for 14 years, and professionally brewing for 12. I am a certified Master Brewer, as well as a certified beer judge. I've worked at several breweries in Canada and the United States, ranging from the very large to the very small. I started my career working in R&D at Molson Coors Canada, and more recently helped open the Four Rivers Brewery in New Brunswick Canada, where we won the award for best new brewery in Atlantic Canada. 

I got interested in brewing when a friend and I started homebrewing cider. We ended up inheriting a bunch of beer brewing equipment from family members and friends. After a couple years of brewing as a hobby I decided to go to school to pursue brewing professionally. I attended Siebel Institute in Chicago and Deomens Academy in Munich where I earned my certification as a Master Brewer. More recently I passed my Beer Judge Exam in Halifax, Nova Scotia to get my certification as a professional beer judge.

A couple sits on a covered porch and enjoy drinks while it rains outside.
Rainy day? Dry off and enjoy a drink in Adirondack Brewing Company's enclosed porch!

What is the process for choosing which brew recipes at Great Adirondack Brewing Company get served? How do they get named? 

The four core brands at GABC are long established recipes dating back around 25 years. All of the other beers are more recent inventions made as one time or seasonal offerings. Since starting here in November I've done 4 new recipes, a Vanilla Porter, a Brown IPA, a Belgian IPA, and a British Golden Ale. I come up with all the names for the new beers. Coming up with beer names that I am happy with is actually one of my more difficult jobs, believe it or not.

What has been a frequent crowd-favorite craft beer at your brewery?

The top selling beers at GABC are the Haystack Blonde and John Brown IPA. Both of these beers have a long history and a big customer base. I brew those beers more frequently than any other brands, and sometimes have to scramble to keep up with demand.

What style of beer is your favorite beer to drink?

My favorite beer to drink right now is the British Golden Ale on nitrogen. I set up a dedicated nitrogen tap to pour some of our beer, which makes the foam in the beer "cascade" leaving the beer with a smooth creamy texture you can't get any other way. It's a semi-traditional way of serving beer (especially dark beer) in the UK and is only available at the bar.  

What kind of beer are you considering to brew in the future that you haven't created yet?

The beer I am most excited about moving forward is a special ale I am brewing for the spring. It is an American farmhouse ale that will be barrel aged in oak barrels and packaged as a vintage ale for 2022.

Lake Placid Pub and Brewery

Head Brewer: TJ Meyer (head brewer for 8 years)

A couple eats on an outside deck with a view of the mountains in the background.
Lake Placid Pub and Brewery has great beers to match great views.

What is the story behind your interest in brewing and how you became the head brewer at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery? 

I actually had no brewing experience whatsoever when I first came to the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery. I became interested in brewing because, in culinary school we had a class that involved mixology and the beer making process. I really enjoyed the short time we had discussing the beer making process and I tried to make a career out of it.

What is the process for choosing which brew recipes at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery? How do they get named? 

The recipes and the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery get chosen by a couple of different people in the brewery and then we try to develop the flavor profile of the beer we are thinking of in the recipe. The names get chosen by a group of people that decide on the name when we tell them what the beer is and what the flavor profile is supposed to be reminiscent of.

A couple smiles as they enjoy a meal on an outdoor deck.
You'll be all smiles while you have a bite and a pint at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery.

What has been frequent crowd-favorite craft beer at your brewery?

Ubu will always be the crowd favorite, but New England IPAs are a close second when it comes to popularity these days.

What style of beer is your favorite beer to drink? What's your favorite style to brew?

I personally gravitate towards west coast style IPAs, with New England IPAs being a close second. IPAs are a fun style to brew because you can generally showcase specific hops and their flavor profiles.

What is your favorite beer to brew at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery?

My favorite beer to brew at the pub is our Unicorns and Show Ponies because all throughout the process you get the most pleasant aroma of hops because it is a New England IPA which uses a lot of hops.

Big Slide Brewery & Public House

Head Brewer: Jason Scull (head brewer for 6 years)

A bartender serves crowlers of beer for patrons to take home.
You'll want to take a crowler (or three) home of your favorite beer at Big Slide Brewery.

What is the story behind your interest in brewing and how you became the head brewer at Big Slide Brewery? 

I started by getting interested in drinking and learning about craft beer. Then, I started home brewing and ended up making the jump to professional brewing. I received a Master Brewers Certificate from UC Davis. Before Big Slide, I was a brewer at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery since 2013 and at Long Trail Brewery in Vermont from 2006-2007

What is the process for choosing which brew recipes at Big Slide Brewery get served? How do they get named? 

The brewery management team plans out in advance the beers we will brew and works together on recipe writing and development. For some of the beers the brewers have a name in mind from the get-go. Usually, we ask the management team for ideas that we can choose from.

What has been frequent crowd-favorite craft beer at your brewery?

Our Giant Double IPA is very popular, winning best DIPA in NYS in 2017. The Hot Pepper Pale Ale also has a devoted following.

Flights of beers sit on tables outside.
Enjoy a flight in the sunshine at Big Slide Brewery.

What style of beer is your favorite beer to drink? What's your favorite style to brew?

Lately my favorite style to drink is our Norwegian Farmhouse ale fermented with kveik, a really interesting strain of yeast from Norway that ferments quickly at high temperatures. Because it’s such a different process from our typical brews, it’s also my current favorite style to brew.

What kind of beer are you considering to brew in the future that you haven't created yet?

Sangria Sour - Amber Ale fermented with kveik, now undergoing mixed culture fermentation in red wine barrels with a mix of fruit purées: lemon, lime, blood orange, sweet dark cherry, blackberry and raspberry. We’ll taste it towards the end of summer and see if it’s ready!

With the frequent rotation of beers at each of these breweries and the seemingly endless list of brews to try, Lake Placid is a place to visit again, and again, and again. While you're at it, you'll want to visit our fun shops and delicious restaurants. Why squeeze it all into one day? Book a longer stay and enjoy a relaxing vacation in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. Cheers!