We just spend a week in the Catskills and took a drive to Cooperstown one day. Had a nice, no-nonsense breakfast in The Cooperstown Diner (a "home made", built-on-site, "not really a diner" diner). Good homefries, which for me, can make or break breakfast [:)]. Lots of diners outside NJ often charge extra for homefries (and they are often not very good, either), making a standard eggs/potatoes/toast meal ‘expensive’ in NJ terms.
I was somewhat disappointed in the tour of Ommegang- a very nice building (quite different than the usual US microbrewery in an old building or a dull industrial park) but inside it’s mostly a real working brewery (which I’ve seen scores of times…), rather than a "tourist" site. Not that there’s anything wrong with that [;)] but, I guess I was expecting more, given the beautiful outside architecture.
The "gift shop" is just a corner of a one of the main rooms, wet floors, crowded with aging tanks, pallets of full kegs and assorted other brewing supplies. As with any brewery, what you see is dependent on when you get there, and we timed it wrong- NOTHING going on- nothing in the kettle, empty open fermenter, no bottling line going on (but they did have horrid heavy metal music playing on the radio so listening to the guide was impossible).
The tour guide seemed new and not very well-versed in brewing or Ommegang history- just giving the rehearsed speil. (Asked where the kegs were racked, he said he didn’t know since they hadn’t filled any kegs since he’d been there.)
The bar area was in a separate room, nicely decorated, but the tastings were from previously opened bottles of all five of the their beers- no draught. (Bottles of Duvel- which they import- where also on display, but they couldn’t give us samples "by law"). Amazingly, it seemed half of the "tourists" (all of the "retirees" age group- I’m in my mid-50’s and was the young whipper-snapper in the group) left BEFORE the tastings. I didn’t buy any beer (all are available at home for me at around the same price) since they didn’t have anything special (I was hoping for some of their "cave aged" stuff they do occassionally- maybe you’ll get lucky since they said the next batch is due "in a few weeks").
We drove up to Sharon Springs hoping to have an early dinner at the American Hotel but it’s only open a few days a week, and doesn’t open until 5 pm. This became a recurring theme in the area all week- it was quite incredible to me that so many restaurants were only open weekends and after 5 in the area- so they become "destination" restaurants, rather than "road food". Sure, it’s not the height of the season (summer or ski) but it IS "leaf peeping" time, which has to have some pull. So, my recommendation is to call first to any place that will take any amount of driving to visit.