Seneca Lake: Day One: Inn at Grist Iron, Grist Iron Brewing and Two Goats Brewing

By on September 26th, 2018 in Photography

Bhavna and I have always wanted to ride in a balloon but with young kids and work, we never made the time for it. The kids are older now. Shaan is out of the house and a sophomore at Rutgers University. Kiran is a senior in high school and busy with AP classes and college applications. My health has been failing lately and I am feeling more fragile.

When the QuickChek Festival of Ballooning came around I suggested to Bhavna that we should take a ride. But the festival weekend conflicted with another event on the calendar. Seeing my disappointment Bhavna suggested that I search for other ballooning options.

I found a few options in the area but Bhavna thought they were too expensive. She suggested that if we were going to spend that kind of money that we should have a great balloon experience. Searching Google for “best balloon rides in the USA“ I found a link to a Fodors ranking of balloon rides and a similar Fox News article. The nearest one was Balloons over Letchworth. That’s the one I chose.

I booked the balloon ride for the only date remaining for the season. Balloons over Letchworth launches at 5:15 PM from inside the Letchworth State Park and the balloon ride can last about an hour. We were driving just over five hours for the balloon ride so Bhavna and I decided to make a weekend of it. We decided to stay in Watkins Glenn.

GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/11

I learned that the area around Seneca Lake is home to many wineries, waterfalls, and … breweries. I found accommodation at the Farmhouse at Grist Iron, which has an onsite microbrewery, The Grist Iron Brewing Company. We booked for two nights.

The original plan was to drive directly to the launch site on Friday, then drive back to the Inn, and unpack before heading to the brewery for a night-cap. Thursday night, the balloon pilot called to say that the Friday night flight was scrapped. The weather was not conducive to a balloon launch. A storm was expected. He had a cancellation for Saturday and was able to accommodate us. This was even better than our original plan.

Friday after breakfast we packed the car and drove straight to the Inn at Grist Iron.

The Farmhouse

When we arrived at the Inn the innkeeper, Darlene, a friendly and bright-eyed woman, greeted us, pointed out the location of the Farmhouse, explained the dining options are the brewery and the surrounding area and made some suggested of other breweries to visit.

Our fully restored 1860s farmhouse features wide plank floors, original hand-hewn beams, and various shades of chestnut, pine, and oak for guests looking for the traditional warmth and feel of a bed and breakfast. The house features a large shared dining area, small parlour, kitchen with a vaulted wood ceiling, and French doors that lead out to our covered front porch with ample seating and magnificent lake views. With four charming rooms to choose from – each with their own private bath – guests can enjoy antique furnishings, cosy reading areas, and the comfort of years gone by.

The Sunset Room in the Farmhouse at the Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6
The Sunset Room in the Farmhouse at the Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 31.1 mm, f/5.6

I had booked us in the Sunset Room, a room with a private first-floor entrance and stairway, and a lake facing view so we could enjoy the sunset. The Sunset room is a 2-bedroom suite with a private en-suite bathroom located on the second floor. Our room had a large picture window with the best lake view in the Farmhouse, which can be enjoyed from the antique four-poster canopy bed or reading chair. Bhavna loved the linens and pillows.

The Farmhouse at Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6
The Farmhouse at Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6
The Farmhouse - The Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/11

We unpacked, freshened up a bit and walked over to the brewery for lunch.

The Grist Iron Brewing Company

Founded in 2015, Grist Iron Brewing Co. is a microbrewery based in Hector, NY, in the heart of the NYS Finger Lakes region.

GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/11
GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 40.1 mm, f/11

There was a large group of people in the taproom taking their sweet time choosing from the menu. I was annoyed at how much effort these American adults put into choosing a small flight from a menu of just nine beers. When Bhavna and I were finally able to get the attention of someone at the bar we ordered two flights to sample eight of the nine, along with a BBQ chicken pizza, the Grist Iron “Bomber”, (for me) and a Seneca Simple Salad (Bhavna).

Our flights:

GRIST IRON BREWING—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6
GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY’S OL’ BUDDY OL’ PALE ALE—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/5.6

We sat outside facing Seneca Lake. It was very windy; moreover, an indication that perhaps the storm was on the way and we would not have the sunset we had anticipated. We talked about how much we regretted not doing trips like these earlier in our marriage and not taking the kids on more vacations to see the USA.

The food was brought to the table and we dined and drank al fresco style. We were underwhelmed by the flavours of the ales. I don’t think Bhavna liked any of hers. I made the best of it. We decided that after our extremely late lunch — it was 3:30 PM when we checked into the Inn — we would shower and try another brewery. There are about five breweries in Hector but we decided on Two Goats.

GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6

Two Goats

When we arrived there was a group of people tossing dollar bits at the ceiling. We soon learned that this particular act is a form of entertainment. The dollar bill is pierced with a tack and wrapped in a dollar bit with a quarter. You “win” by getting the toss just right so that the tack sticks to the ceiling. I wonder how many patrons have injured an eye?

Two Goats—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6

The views from Two Goat are beautiful. The property sits on the lower side of the road at the top of the eastern edge of Seneca Lake in Hector.

TWO GOATS BREWING’S NEIPA—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 25.7 mm, f/5.6

We ordered a few pints instead of a flight and went outside to enjoy the view. We stood on the deck looking down at Seneca Lake. The picnic-style tables were occupied by other brewery patrons. It was windy and we could clearly see the storm clouds in the distance. We would not have our sunset that night. Bhavna enjoyed the NEIPA.


I ordered the Floggen Schloggen, is Belgian Dubbel, just because the name is cool. We learned from the owner, John, that he chose the name after a trip to Belgium with his wife. In German, Flügeschlagen means “unfinished business”. John doesn’t speak Belgian and the word “strange and cool” to him. Floggen Schloggen is how John remembered the word.


We started talking to John about his brewery and when and why he got started brewing. From our conversation, it seemed he really enjoyed his work. I had packed a few cans of ales from Flounder Brewing, Conclave Brewing, and the Referend Blendery and I offered them to John. We sat at the bar chatting while drinking. I don’t why I did this. I hope John doesn’t think I’m some sort of nut. I just wanted to share.

Sunset at Two Goats—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 17 mm, f/4.5

End of the Day

It was getting late. Because we ate lunch so late, Bhavna was feeling hungry. We drove to the Walmart in Watkins Glen and picked up some junk food and ramen noodles which we prepared in the Farmhouse kitchen. We would regret that the next day.

Farmhouse Kitchen—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/11
Farmhouse Kitchen—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/11

We looked in the fridge and found the complimentary six-pack of beer from the brewery.

Complimentary six pack of Ol\' Buddy Ol\'.—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/5.6

2 thoughts on “Seneca Lake: Day One: Inn at Grist Iron, Grist Iron Brewing and Two Goats Brewing”

  1. Tuesday Photo Challenge – Outdoors by jansenphoto (Dutch goes the photo )

    Flowing water in the great outdoors!

    This photograph was taken last fall during a weekend trip to Seneca Lake. Bhavna and I hiked the Buttermilk Falls trail.We stopped along the way to rest, but we ere exhausted when we got to the top. We are both in our 50’s, slightly overweight, and do not exercise as much as we want. In my case, the fear of hypoglycaemia limits the activities that I am willing to do. Bhavna is limited by the amount of pain her feet can bare.I brought my Fuji X-T2, Manfrotto tripod and Hoya neutral density filter. When we stopped to catch a breather, I took some photos. Capturing images proved challenging. The falls are a popular tourist destination, even in the fall. I jammed by tripod up against the stone barricades, doing my best to keep the legs off the path, to avoid tripping other hikers. Hikers would sometimes stop their ascent or descent from asking questions about what I was doing or about my gear.


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  2. HealthAt the end of 2018, I had surgery to remove my thyroid as a final resolution to Graves Disease. The symptoms from Graves Disease are all gone, but I will forever on Synthroid thyroid medication.The Graves Eyes Disease (GED) has, however, worsened. I am seeing some of the best ocular specialists at Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia. To reduce the swelling and pressure in my eyes, we have started a treatment of high dose steroids and twelve days of radiation treatment at the Bodine Center For Radiation Therapy. The doctors are concerned that pressure could crush the optic nerves and lead to blindness. We will re-evaluate once this course of treatments is complete. This disease has been a new challenge for me since last year when I was dealing with Graves Disease. I have limited my drive time, and I’m commuting to Iselin for work, using the New Jersey Transit North East Corridor line between Princeton Junction and Metro Park. Bhavna has been helping out by doing all the driving to Philadelphia for my appointments.However, my Graves Eye Disease worsened to the point where my eye specialist strongly advised on an intense treatment. After six weeks of radiation therapy and high dose steroids, my eyes “look” better than two months ago. The radiation and high dose steroid reduced the pressure and lower the risk of blindness. However, I don’t feel much better. I still have proptosis (bulging eyes) and my eyelids don’t close properly. I wake up with dry eyes and spend most of the day using lubricating eye drops or gel. Dust and dirt get on my cornea so my eyes often feel gritty. This is especially frustrating when using a computer and at work where attention to detail and concentration is necessary.In September I have an appointment to see an orbital reconstruction surgeon. He/she will determine if surgery can help.FamilyKiran has been accepted into Drew University with a full four-year academic scholarship, the Baldwin Honors Scholarship, through Drew’s Baldwin Honours Program. She will also have access to fatality and academic programs not available to other students. She also qualified for the Francis Asbury Scholarship: Annual Scholarship. We are so very proud of her accomplishment.Kiran has been accepted into the Classics program at Oberlin College, one of her first choice schools. She has also been awarded a four-year academic scholarship. Oberlin College is in Oberlin, Ohio. Kiran is super excited, and we are very proud of her accomplishments.My father passed away around 5 AM EST on Sunday, 7th April 2019. Because I have started the course of treatment for swelling caused by Graves Eye Disease, I was not able to attend Dad’s funeral in St. Vincent. I choose to write a parting post to my Dad that I hope to honour his memory.WorkI no longer consult as a security architect for the New Jersey Courts. My work on the architecture for the credit card processing systems to meet PCI DSS requirements is complete. I am now consulting for CLS Bank in New York. I joined the information security team at CLS Bank as an information security architect in June 2018. I work out of their Wall Street office near Pier 11, and Metro Park (Iselin) office a few days a week with two days working remotely.It’s an open-plan office with zero quiet rooms. The kind that Harvard business studies and psychologist think are a terrible idea.TravelBhavna and I took one item off our bucket list last year. We booked a hot air balloon ride over Letchworth, and we spent a weekend at Seneca Lake, hiking along the trails lining some beautiful waterfalls; we had so much fun on that trip. Our only regret is that we did not do these types of excursions with our kids when they were younger.For 2019, we are planning a few more trips to visit family in Florida and North Carolina.
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