The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, icon of North Country brewers and birthplace of UBU Ale, is an interesting combination of two bars. On the first level is PJ O’Neill’s. We arrived at around 1:30 p.m., O’Neill’s sign indicating it didn’t open until 4:30 p.m. Ascending the wide wooden staircase, illuminated by stained glass windows to the Lake Placid Pub, we read signs to get as much information as we could on our own. Kim commented on the windows, wondering if they were from a Lake Placid source. She later inquired and found that they were salvaged from a church demolition.
The entrance opens to a roomy span of bar and restaurant, light colored wood and gleaming bottles warmly lit by afternoon sun. Vintage posters, college pennants, and the brewery’s collection of awards and medals decorate the walls. We took a seat, taking note of the numbered beer steins dangling patiently around the perimeter of the bar, each with its owner’s name on the bottom. Kim surveyed the beer list, licking her chops as she faced the quandary of selecting only one. It was early and several more bars awaited. She opted for the ChocoWit, a Belgian-American wheat beer brewed with chocolate. Pam, always taking nutrition into consideration, had started Lake Placid Day Two with a Bloody Mary, so opted for the usual vodka and grapefruit knowing it was a good way to pace herself for the rest of the day. From her seat at the bar, Pam observed several full tables on the adjoining deck, overlooking Mirror Lake. The U-shaped bar could accommodate 16 to 18 patrons with several tables available for many, many more beer enthusiasts.
Steve, the general manager, took the time to talk with us about the restaurant and brewery and gave Kim a tour of the brewery. He even arranged a display of the brewery’s wares for Kim to photograph. According to Steve, a local distiller has plans to make gin flavored with white pine needles. Eagerly awaiting that release, Pam relaxed and enjoyed her beverage, recalling that a bottle of Lake Placid Spirits 46 Peaks Vodka had been purchased that morning for testing back at the Pammie’s Pub laboratory.
Winner of several awards, the Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company was selected as the best brewery in New York State in 2005 and 2007, and best brewery in the Hudson Valley in 2003, 2005, and 2007 by the TAP New York Beer Festival. Unable to keep up with growing demand, the brewery has expanded several times, finally entering into a partnership with the Matt Brewing Company where most of their beer is now brewed and packaged. Prices are reasonable and a tempting variety of freshly brewed beers changes throughout the year. The menu includes typical pub fare, with burgers and sandwiches in the $10 range, locally baked UBU bread and beer-inspired sauces, dressings and soups.
The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery is open all year, every day, hours changing with the seasons. Summer hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and they offer a Happy Hour special from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and a Tuesday night buy one get one free special as well. Patrons are encouraged to continue their parties downstairs at PJ O’Neill’s after 10 until 2 a.m. The brewery has been in business since 1996, but PJ’s has a longer history. Whether you choose the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery upstairs, PJ O’Neill’s downstairs, or both, you’ll find one of the finest selections of tasty brews in the Adirondacks. This is a not-to-be-missed attraction in Lake Placid.
We returned later that night to PJ O’Neill’s, a self-proclaimed “true Irish pub”. Its dark, low-ceilinged interior in complementary contrast to the upstairs, but with similar flavor – lots of wood and brick and a stained glass backdrop behind the bar. PJ’s serves the same fine Lake Placid brews that are available upstairs. According to local lore, they pride themselves on being the “local pub” in Lake Placid. You can go there, but you have to be open-minded, out-going, or just wasted. We might suggest that you have a few upstairs to warm up first. Pam offered to trade her HHHP hat with a woman wearing a straw hat, but the offer was politely declined. Pam played pool (and won) against her husband while Kim bantered with the couple next to her at the bar, visiting from Hawaii. The bartender was leery of us, tolerant and closely observant.
We didn’t stay long. It was close to 9 p.m. and we realized we were eating complimentary popcorn by the bowlful, so we wove our weary way in what we hoped was the direction of Lisa G’s for dinner. We will be reviewing Lisa G’s and other stops on our Summit Tour throughout the summer. In an effort to catch up on reviews, not all will be posted at the Adirondack Almanack. The Cottage, Lisa G’s, Dancing Bears and Straight Shot will only be posted on our blog, so check regularly. Reviews from the Old Forge trip start next week.
Cheers & Bottoms Up!
Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.