MIDDLETOWN, NEW YORK
Inside a mammoth freestanding 30,000 square-foot multifaceted facility in the Orange County city of Middletown (an hour outside Manhattan), ASPIRE BREWING opened its formidable doors at Crystal Run’s Galleria during June ’24. Head brewer Rick Hatch honed his skills at Denver Beer Company and Sparge Brewing in Colorado before heading east to New York’s Finger Lakes at Auburn’s Prison City. Now manning the tanks at Aspire, Hatch promises more barrel aged fare in the near future.
A veritable brewery-restaurant multiplex, Aspire’s epoxy-floored, pipe-exposed, high black ceilinged interior features a rectangular 40-draught Mosaic-tiled beer wall across the left side dining space. A full kitchen with elevated pub fare complements the beers emanating from massive windowed brewtanks servicing the expansive 25-seat right side bar.
There are several two-seat tables, metal-chaired community tables, middle lounge area, hanging basket seats and an overhead door (leading to a front patio). Adding to the eccentric sportsbar atmosphere are axe throwing competition, game room fodder, indoor corhhole court and golf simulation. My wife and I perused the jumbo pub on a crowded Saturday evening and quiet Friday at noon during late January ’24.
Let’s start with five German styled elixirs before moving on to the shitload of IPA’s, handful of heady dark ales and sundry remainders.
Crisp Bavarian-styled moderation, Widmen Pilsner, let musky lemon souring reach herbal hop astringency and muted floral spicing above musty pilsner malting.
Easygoing pinkish amber-cleared Keen Cranberry Kolsch snuck dry lemony cranberry souring into its pilsner-malted salted cracker base.
Lightly roasted caramel malting and muted spiced toffee contrast herbal Perle hop respite of Munich dunkel lager, Admire, leaving a gluey paper finish.
Oaken foeder aging provided musty cellared fungi to offbeat Rollick Doppelbock, permeating dry whiskey tones and black-purple-red grape tannins above distant pumpernickel breading.
Unassuming German-styled smoked lager, Flamme Rauchbier, lacked the cured meat resonance of better Bavarian imports (like fabulous Aecht Schlenkerla lineup), plying its delicate beechwood-smoked barley to mild cocoa tease, fatty bacon whim and soapy finish.
Maize-dried musk and mash tun-wafted sourdough breading guided lemon-twisted American lager, Striver, as celery-watered cucumber crisping reached its wet papered malt graining.
Pithy amber lager, Allay, countered caraway-seeded rye breading and caramelized cereal grain minerality with astringent hop herbage.
Sweet-Tart lemon-candied powdering, peachy cara cara orange tanginess and dry lime brining gathered for wheat-based Wallkill Summer Ale, a ‘smooth easygoer.’
Crisp caramel toasting and mild citrus spicing banked Noble hop herbage for Exult California Common, a lagered yeast-bound steam beer.
Tartly fruited sour, Fruticulture: Blood Orange Cranberry, plugged lightly acidic lemon-limed blood orange and cranberry adjuncts into dextrose white wheat starching.
Sessionable India Pale Ale, Kokua, gently serenaded spicy grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering, tangy pineapple zesting and tart passionfruit whims with light herbage and mild pining over dry pale malts.
Highly engaging IPA, Aspirations V3, maintained sugary bubblegum waft for Citra-Mosaic-El Dorado-hopped fruit cocktail splendor, advancing yellow grapefruit, navel orange, mandarin orange, tangerine and peach tanginess atop light vanilla-creamed crystal/caramel malts.
Soft-toned Imperial IPA, Favor, placated New Zealand-based Riwaka hop tropicalia with dank pine resin and dry rye malting, unfurling peachy pineapple-candied orange peel tanginess and lemony yellow grapefruit rind bittering.
One more soft-toned Imperial IPA, Delight, delicately coalesced peachy pineapple tanginess, grapefruit-peeled orange pith bittering and redcurrant tartness, deferring its ascending vodka-licked 8.7 % ABV booziness.
Double dry-hopped Imperial IPA, Devote, merged spicily orange-peeled Citra hop zesting with pungent Simcoe hop pining, picking up subtle grapefruit, pineapple, peach and tangerine tanginess.
Dry bronzed West Coast-styled Imperial IPA, Exhilarate, rushed lemon-peeled yellow grapefruit Citra hop bittering, hard-candied El Dorado hop tartness and orange rind desiccation across wispy pine tones for vodka-whirred 9.8% ABV medium body.
Another West Coast Imperial IPA, Courage, let its zesty Citra-Cascade-hopped grapefruit, orange and lemon spicing graze woodsy pine-needled Centennial-Simcoe-hopped herbage and dark floral snips topping dry pale malts.
Staying on the ‘Left Coast,’ Appetition IPA retained ultra-dry lemony grapefruit-orange-pineapple tanginess for resinous pine dankness and light herbal notions contrasting mildly creamed caramel malting.
Dry New England-styled IPA, Enthusiasm, combined Huell Melon-hopped white grape, guava and melon tartness with Citra/Idaho 7-hopped grapefruit, tangerine and orange salting and Cashmere-hopped lemon liming over mild spelt- dried oats creaming.
Brisk Citra-hopped NEIPA, Envisage, lightly embittered its lemony grapefruit tanginess with musky coniferous juniper tips above mild oated wheat creaming.
Muskier NEIPA, Seek, let lightly pungent pine tones delve into mild guava, mango and passionfruit tropicalia and subtle floral spicing over oaty cereal graining.
Down Under hops (Nelson Sauvin/Galaxy/Strata) engaged dry NEIPA, Burgeon, providing floral-perfumed grapefruit peel and orange rind bittering as well as residual passionfruit-guava tartness to earthen bark-dried herbal musk.
A bright NEIPA collab with Newburgh Brewery, AspireBoss, brought Citra-Mosaic-hopped lemony orange sunshine to musky Simcoe-hopped pine bittering countering honeyed oats breading.
Dark-roast Brazilian coffee anchored robustly sumptuous Baltic Porter, Caturra, picking up creamy cappuccino, espresso and chocolate latte illusions alongside latent burgundy licks.
Velvety coca-nibbed dark chocolate creaming enriched fudgy pastry stout, Enchant, picking up hazelnut coffee, chocolate cake and vanilla cupcake illusions.
Even more decadent, Enchant – Cordial Cherry, allowed candied cherry cordial confection to penetrate creamy brown chocolate syruping, intense Madagascar vanilla caramelization and fudged toffee sugaring before snagging bruised cherry sweetness at the lovely mocha-drenched finish.