Banger Burger

Irish pubs are usually a good stop for grub. The Celtic Harp, outside the Saranac Brewery in Utica, is a great choice. They of course serve their hometown’s brews on tap, and they make a good burger.
Sarah opted for the beef stew, which had big tender chunks of beef and creamy mashed potatoes.
I went for the Banger Burger, which comes with a grilled banger sausage on top, and cheese of course. The burger was good, but a little overdone. The sausage made up for it, with great flavor. Nice tasty bun, too. Not mushy and not sweet. The grilled onions were a great touch, too. They had Saranac pumpkin ale on tap, and it’s one of my favorite pumpkin brews- lots of flavor without weighing you down.

I wouldn’t recommend a road trip for the Harp on its own, but if you’re visiting the brewery, it’s right around the corner, and has a lively clientele. And they make a good burger.

I’m cleaning up a lot of my half-written drafts, so I’ll be playing catch-up and firing them off through the holiday season.

Saranac Brewery

Saranac makes a good beer or two. I got introduced to their bottled Black & Tan first, which led me to their excellent Black Forest Porter, and finally to their brewery in Utica, NY. In a huge brick factory in an up & coming looking part of town, you’ll find the Brewery Shop from whence tours commence. Tours are $5, and since I was on a schedule and had to drive to western Massachusetts that afternoon, and because I’m not paying to go on a tour of a brewery, I opted to just browse the shop.
They have a very nice shop with loads and loads of t-shirts, mugs, glasses, hats, steins, and of course, all kinds of beer. I grabbed a 12 Beers of Winter pack, a sixer of their tasty Irish Red Ale- one of my favorite varieties- and some of their excellent Pumpkin Ale, to give to my host Andy when we arrived. Of the Pumpkin Ales I’ve had this season, my favorite is still Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, which is a brown ale. But Saranac is tied for second with Wolaver’s organic brew. It’s excellent stuff, and if you want to try a pumpkin beer for autumn, it’s one of the better seasonals available.
Their steins are all in the $80 range- a bit steep, keeping the “Made in China” stamp on the bottom- but are amusingly designed. They had a talking beer stein ad campaign for years, and thus all the different styles. I really wanted to get the totally un-PC Chinese stein with the straw hat, but not for $80. Saranac makes a good beer, but their prices are a bit steep. If Sam Adams can give a free tour- now with a suggested donation of $2 going to local charities- I think Saranac, family owned, can do the same, eh? So I’ll never know what secrets lie in there brewery, or if you get a commemorative glass. Outside the brewery is a new Irish pub called the Celtic Harp, which serves their beer on tap and makes good burgers, stew, and spinach dip appetizers too. More on them later- they make a “banger burger” that I had to try!