Angela's is now Rip Van Winkle


Just down the road from happy hippie haven, Woodstock, after breakfast at tiny café, Shindig, and a quick trip to Bearsville Theatre, my wife and I visited RIP VAN WINKLE BREWING COMPANY during a snow-filled Saturday in mid-December ’17. Formerly known as Angela’s Italian Bistro, this traditional family-styled restaurant/ brewpub serves homemade pizza and Mediterranean cuisine to go alongside more than a handful of proprietary beers.

One hundred miles north of New York City in the bucolic pine-laden Catskill Mountains at the tiny hamlet of Palenville, this gray doublewide house-styled pizza and beer joint is easy to reach via Route 287.

We grab a few chairs at the oak-topped central bar in the Tap Room to try all seven proprietary brews currently available. Brewtanks are stationed in the rear while an open kitchen sidles the bar and two separate wood-furnished dining areas go to the left and right. A bronze faux-tin ceiling classily encases the bar area.

First up, reliable Mountain House Helles provided raw-honeyed lager yeast for muted citrus spicing and light grassy hop astringency.

Next, approachable Palenville Pale Ale let moderately sweet orange, red and yellow fruiting pick up subtle hop astringency and grassy earthiness over a raw-honeyed pale malt base.

Then, traditional autumnal moderation, Oktoberfest, brought leafy foliage to spice-tingled citric licks and light wheat graining.

Polite Rip Van Winkle Wit placed perfumed herbal spices across Belgian candi-sugared crystal malts and honeyed banana illusions.

Sweeter and more complex, Fawn’s Leaf Belgian Dubbel loaded sweet-honeyed cherry, peach and nectarine fruiting alongside toasted amber grains and mild wood tones.

On the dark side, sturdily medium-bodied Kiskatom Brown Ale let mild chocolate-cocoa chalking lightly affect burnt caramel sugaring before receiving an ashen nuttiness that increased the light-roast hop bittering.

Finally, dry Peek-A-Boo Porter draped dark chocolate malts and toffee notes atop earthen hops.



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Inside an inconspicuous Route 32 mini-mall just off Route 287 one mile north of Woodbury Commons at Central Valley,  A BETTER PLACE BAR & GRILL began operations in the summer of ’16.

Serving a quaint neighborhood, this cozy sportsbar (with strategically placed TV’s) utilizes its 12 tap handles for mostly hand-crafted New York State brews.

A wood-furnished pub with backside open kitchen and left side dining area straddling the 20-seat bar that snakes around the right side on a crazy angle, A Better Place feels homey and warm. An American flag carved from wood sits atop the tap handles and liquor bottles.

On a seasonally warm pre-Thanksgiving Day perusal, fine Big Apple draught selections from Kingston-based Keegan Ales, Livingston Manor’s Catskill Brewery, Florida’s Glenmere Brewing, Chester’s Rushing Duck Brewing and Calverton’s Twin Fork get imbibed by the small mid-afternoon crowd.

At the crossroads of Orange and Rockland counties heading north to the bucolic Upper New York expanse,  A Better Place is its area’s best craft beer choice.


On tap at Seven Lakes Station, busy brown ale may underutilize toasted coconut and cocoa adjuncts while not quite hitting upon advertised Samoa girl scout cookie likeness, but it’s creamy hazelnut chocolate sweetness and milk-sugared coffee notions completely make up for that. Beneath serenading cookie-doughed mocha malting lies delicate vanilla spicing as well as polite blackberry, blueberry and red grape tartness. Less filling than richer, creamier porters and stouts for dessert.

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On tap at Ambulance, velvety maple-creamed Imperial Stout (brewed in collaboration with Maine-bound Bunker Brewing) retains brown-sugared maple molasses sweetness, sugary vanilla-laced chocolate caking and rich cookie dough malting above dark-roast hop char as bitter burnt wood singe and mild alcohol burn creep forward. Tertiary cola nut, toasted marshmallow, cappuccino and cocoa tones deepen decadent dessert beer.

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