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Carey Institute pairing dinner to star its own beers

Local beer fans who keep up with developments in the field may have heard of, or read about, the many undertakings of the Carey Institute for Global Good.

The Helderberg Mountains facility has hosted a variety of events related to hops, brewing and marketing. Now, it will make use of all its facilities by hosting a beer-pairing dinner at its Carriage House Restaurant in cooperation with its own Helderberg Brewery incubator operation.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, February 25. A cash bar will open at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6. Overnight lodging at the Institute's country estate is available, and a buffet breakfast will be served on Sunday morning. Ticket prices vary depending on the package selected, with details and reservation information available online.

The menu:

• Beer and cheese soup with crispy pancetta, Parmesan crisp in sourdough bread bowls (Helderberg Brewery Saison)
• Ember-cooked sweet potato with housemade straccieatella (Helderberg Brewery Porter)
• Housemade pappardelle with local ground beef Bolognese sauce (Helderberg Brewery Pilsner)
• Roulade of local chicken with kale, apples and walnuts, piped potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts (Helderberg Brewery Fresh Hop Pale Ale)
• Chocolate tart with porter ganache and bourbon caramel (Our Kriek)

The Carey Institute is located at 100 Pond Hill Road, Rensselaerville, Albany County.
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Sierra Nevada issues beer recall over fear of glass shards

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, one of the nation's largest craft brewers, has issued a recall of some of its 12-ounce bottles of pale ales, IPAs and other beers after discovery of a packaging flaw that could cause glass to chip and fall into the bottle.

The voluntary recall came after inspections at its North Carolina brewery. The brewery said the recall applies to eight different types of its craft beers, including its Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, purchased in New York and 34 other states as well as Washington, DC.

In an announcement, the company said, "We have announced a voluntary recall of select 12-ounce bottles that may contain a small glass packaging flaw. This recall comes after quality inspections at our Mills River, NC, brewery detected a very limited number of bottles with a flaw that may result in loss of carbonation and a small piece of glass to break off and possibly fall into the bottle, causing a risk for injury.

"While we believe this concern impacts roughly one in every 10,000 (0.01%) of our bottles packaged during this time, Sierra Nevada has set the standard for quality in the craft brewing industry since 1980 and we have decided to take this precaution to ensure the safety of our consumers.  To date, we have not received any consumer reports of injuries resulting from the potentially affected bottles, and we are working with our suppliers to determine the root cause of the issue."

Go here for a list of which products are affected and which are not.
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Craft brewers festival has 50 breweries lined up so far

The 4th annual New York State Brewers Association's (NYSBA) New York Craft Brewers Festival, set for Saturday March 25, 2017 at The Desmond in Colonie, already has more than 50 brewers lined up.

And, organizers are promising more than 100 "hard-to-find and award-winning beers." The event, a sellout last year, is planned as a four-hour (4 to 8 p.m.) tasting event with "specially selected beer not available to the general public." Tickets, including an early-admission VIP component, have a variety of price points, and are available both in advance and at the door.

Tickets are available at The Desmond, the Albany Pump Station, Rare Form Brewing in Troy, and Mad Jack Brewing at The Van Dyck in Schenectady.

Admission covers a seven-ounce souvenir tasting glass, unlimited three-ounce beer samples, food samples from a variety of local restaurants and food trucks, and the opportunity to meet the brewers. Beers and ales from 56 different breweries are listed by the organizers. Go here to see the full lineup.

Food sampling designed pairing will be provided by The Desmond Hotel, Brown's Brewing Taproom, Adirondack Pub, Albany Pump Station, Davidson Brothers Brewpub, Druthers, The Ruck, The American Bounty at CIA, Knot of This World Pretzels, Catskill Food Company, Crossroads Brewing, Chef’s Consortium, The Mohawk Taproom, Honest Weight, The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, 20 North Broadway, Elegant Touch Catering & Events, Pasta Pane, and That’s Different Chocolates.

The festival will include select New York State hops and malt section with owners and growers. It is a 21+ event. All attendees must show valid photo ID at the door. All attendees, including designated drivers, must be 21 or over to attend.
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Cuomo moviehouse drinks plan deviates from speech

Beer and wine are sold in this California theater where clip-on trays also holds food items.
UPDATE (1/20/17): In one of his budget speeches this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would propose granting approval for movie theater to serve wine and beer, as well as incentives to encourage them to be sure those are New York State products. The catch -- and isn't there always a catch with government? -- is that Cuomo's actual paperwork reveals that such service would NOT be restricted to wine and beer, and there is no provision for incentives for using state products.

(Originally published 1/18/17)

In New York State you can sip a beer or a glass of wine while watching a standup comic perform live, listen to a lounge singer-pianist or a jazz quintet, or even stroll through a gallery to see an art collection or hear a speaker. If alcohol-friendly Governor Andrew Cuomo has his way, you'll be able to enjoy the same beverages while taking in a movie.

There is a small handful of movie houses in the state allowed to sell such beverages now, a result of a succesful 2011 lawsuit filed by Nitehawk Cinemas seeking such a privilege, but they must have table seating and offer a full restaurant menu. Hardly the same as sitting in your neighborhood moviehouse and sloching back into a comfy overstuffed seat while you take in the latest version of the "Hunger Games" franchise, and hardly a sufficient-sized venue to handle crowds for first-run films.

During his budget address delivered publicly on Tuesday, Cuomo said that in addition to dozens of revenue and regulation recommendations, "We also had a proposal that would allow alcohol and beer to be sold in movie theaters. And, it would be joined with an incentive program, to incentivize the movie theaters to sell New York wine and beer."

If successful, the proposal would be just another step in a long series of moves by the governor to aid the state's wine/spirits/brewing industry by simplifying regulations, expanding tax credits, creating promotional programs, and speeding up licensing.

“It is a very big industry for us," Cuomo said. "We have developed it, it’s going gangbusters, anything we can do to encourage it. It’s especially successful in Upstate New York."

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Brewing Up Humor

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.

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Feds redefine cider regulations to aid producers

Going into the new year, the federal government did not ignore the burgeoning U.S. cider industry.

An amendment to the Internal Revenue Service Code (26 USC Section 5041) was part of the year-end tax extenders bill, and modifies the definition of hard cider.

Passage of the legislation on December 18 makes small cider producers more competitive in the market by giving them increased flexibility in production and ingredients and brings the U.S.'s cider definition into line with international standards for alcohol by volume, carbonation, and allowable recipes.

“This legislation represents a huge step forward for cider makers throughout the nation ,” said Mike Beck, president of the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) and owner of Uncle John’s Hard Cider Company in St. Johns, MI. “ We are excited for the positive impact it will have on the U.S. cider industry, which is growing rapidly and creating small manufacturing and agricultural jobs across the country.”

The USACM is an organization of domestic cider and perry producers that gathers and shares information about cider production, regulations, and apple growing to help members improve their operations, raise awareness, and advance cider in the market.
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Brewing Up Humor

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Nine Pin introduces vanilla chai cider

Vanilla chai sounds like something you'd order at Starbucks. But, if you want the hard cider version, look to Nine Pine Cider Works.

The Albany cidery has just released Nine Pin Vanilla Chai, a very local product made with apples from Samascott Orchards in Columbia County, aged with vanilla beans, and infused with chai-spiced tea from Short and Stout, the Guilderland tea producer.

It will be available at the cidery, 929 Broadway, at farmers markets, and at stores selling other Nine Pin products.

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Boca Bistro, Druthers team up for beer pairing dinner

Boca Bistro and Druthers Brewing Company are putting together an all-Saratoga Springs pairing dinner.

The event, set for the start of Saratoga Beer Week, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 21.

Five beers from the downtown brewer will be paired with the Boca chefs' foods. They are: 

All In IPA, an American-style IPA made with Amarillo and Citra hops; Fist of Karma Brown Ale, an American brown ale; The Dare, Gose, a little-known German-style ale brewed with coriander and a small amount of salt; Scottish-Style 80, a  copper-colored ale; Against the Grain Hefeweizen, a Bavarian–style wheat beer made with beech wood-smoked malt.

Druthers' master brewer is George de Piro, winner of three gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and gold, silver and bronze awards at the World Beer Cup.

Reservations, which are required, are available online at $65 plus tax and tip.

The original brewery, which also has an Albany facility, is located at 381 Broadway, adjacent to Boca Bistro which at 384 Broadway.
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Save-the-Date: Adirondack Brewery Barrel Fest

Here's a March save-the-date item:

The Adirondack Brewery Barrel Fest is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at the brewery, located at 33 Canada Street in Lake George. The nearby Fort William Henry Hotel (800-234-0267) is offering discounted lodging prices for event attendees.

Tickets are $35 online in advance, $40 at the door. In addition to a bonfire, a "burning man," live music and cigars, a  number of one-off, barrel-aged ales and rare barrel-aged offerings from guest Northeast Breweries will be available.
Actually, several of the offerings from other guest breweries also look interesting. Go here for details.
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Craft brewery under construction in Schenectady

Site of what will become Great Flats Brewing
Harry Whalen
On Christmas Eve, I posted a compilation of all the craft brewing operations in the Greater Capital Region. Here we are barely two weeks into 2017 and I need to update it.

The reason: Great Flats Brewing is being built in Schenectady.

Harry Whalen, who is in the process of moving to the city from Greenwich, Washington County, is building the brewery at 151 Lafayette Street, a venue that became available when Crossfit 518 moved to North College Street. It's recognizable by the glass rollup doors left over from when it was a vehicle service garage.

When completed, Great Flats -- named for the aquifer supplying the city's, and Whalen's, drinking water -- will include brewing space and patron seating space with a bar. While the project has no connection with the neighboring Firestone 151 Bar & Restaurant, its beer may be sold there. Whalen, incidentally, will be hiring a brewer to create his products.

At this time, there are no website or Facebook page for Great Flats, although there is @greatflats on Twitter.

As I noted in December, depending on how one draws the imaginary boundaries of the geographic area loosely known as the "Greater Capital Region," the number of micro, nano and craft breweries inhabiting it ebbs and flows.

I keep the definition rather loose, given the propensity of people in this area to travel a bit to attend the many drinks and food shows and festivals with which it abounds. Thus, certain nearby parts of the Adirondacks, Catskills and Cooperstown area are included in my latest compilation of breweries, which includes at least one other scheduled to open early this year, that is approaching the 50 mark. To be specific, by my count we are at 48. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
    1. Adirondack Pub & Brewery, 33 Canada Street, Lake George
    2. Argyle Brewing, One Main Street, Greenwich
    3. Artisinal Brew Works, 41 Geyser Road, Saratoga Springs 
    4. Battle Hill Brewing Co., 4 Charles Street, Fort Ann
    5. Beer Diviner, 461 Broadway, Troy, and 243 Bly Hollow Road, Petersburg
    6. Big Slide Brewery & Public House, 5686 Cascade Road, Lake Placid 
    7. Big Tupper Brewing, 12 Cliff Avenue, Tupper Lake
    8. Brewery LaHoff, 50 Vedder Road, Coxsackie (to open this year)
    9. Brewery Ommegang, 656 County Highway 33, Cooperstown
    10. Brown's Brewing Co., 417 River Street, Troy, and 50 Factory Hill Road, North Hoosick
    11. Cave Mountain Brewing Co., 5359 State Route 23, Windham
    12. Chatham Brewing, 59 Main Street, Chatham
    13. C.H. Evans Brewing/Albany Pump Station, 19 Quackenbush Square, Albany
    14. Common Roots Brewing Co., 58 Saratoga Avenue, South Glens Falls
    15. Cooper's Cave Ale Co., 2 Sagamore Street, Glens Falls
    16. Cooperstown Brewing Co., 110 River Street, Milford  
    17. Council Rock Brewery, 4861 State Highway 28, Cooperstown
    18. Crossroads Brewing Co., 21 Second Street, Athens
    19. Davidson Brothers Brewing Co., 184 Glen Street, Glens Falls
    20. Druthers, 381 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, and 1053 Broadway, Albany
    21. Dutch Ale House, 255 Main Street, Saugerties
    22. Great Adirondack Brewing Co., 2442 Main Street, Lake Placid
    23. Great Flats Brewing, 151 Lafayette Street, Schenectady (to open this year)
    24. Green Wolf Brewing, 315 Main Street, Middleburgh
    25. Hank Hudson Brewing, The Fairways of Halfmoon, 17 Johnson Road, Mechanicville
    26. Helderberg Brewery, Carey Institute for Global Good, 100 Pond Hill Road, Rensselaerville 
    27. Helderberg Mountain Brewing Co., 141 Warners Lake Road, East Berne
    28. Honey Hollow Brewing Co., 376 East Honey Hollow Road, Earlton
    29. Hudson Brewing Co., 99 South 3rd Street, Hudson
    30. Indian Ladder Farmstead Brewery and Cidery, 342 Altamont-Voorheesville Road, Altamont
    31. Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, 813 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid  
    32. Mad Jack Brewing, The Van Dyck Lounge,237 Union Street, Schenectady
    33. Mean Max Brew Works, 193 Glen Street, Glens Falls
    34. Olde Saratoga Brewing Co., 131 Excelsior Avenue, Saratoga Springs 
    35. Paradox Brewery, 154 Route 9, Schroon Lake 
    36. Racquette River Brewing, 11 Balsam Street, Tupper Lake,
    37. Rare Form Brewing Co., 90 Congress Street, Troy  
    38. Real McCoy Beer Co., 20 Hallwood Road, Delmar
    39. Red Shed Brewery, 817 Butterbowl Road, Cherry Valley
    40. Rip Van Winkle Brewing, Angela's Italian Bistro & Brewery, 4545 NY Route 32, Catskill
    41. R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery, 3602 County Route 30, Salem
    42. Serious Brewing Co., 116 Caverns Road, Howes Cave
    43. Shmaltz Brewing Co., 6 Fairchild Square, Clifton Park
    44. Sloop Brewing, 1065 County Route 19, Elizaville
    45. S&S Farm Brewery, 174 Middle Road, Nassau
    46. Steadfast Beer Co., 90 State Street, Albany
    47. Suarez Family Brewery, 2278 Route 9, Livingston
    48. Wolf Hollow Brewing Co., 6882 Amsterdam Road, Glenville

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    Cuomo asks sweeping changes to aid craft drinks industry

    Governor Cuomo
    New York Craft Beverage Week.

    It has a nice ring to it and, if our adult-beverage-friendly governor has his way, it will become a reality. And, so will numerous other expansions of the state's drinks industries that have been the darlings of his administration. 

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's sweeping proposals outlined in his "State of the State" speeches around the state this week are subject to approval by the State Legislature. Many of them will be included in his Executive Budget proposal, which is due next week.

    One of the items submitted in his "State of the State" book is the creation of the craft beverage week to "highlight local beer, wine, cider and distilled spirits on restaurant menus across the state and in advertising," according to the governor's office.

    His proposal would have the New York State Restaurant Association and the New York City Hospitality Alliance team up to promote the state's craft beverage industry, and the state government's Taste NY initiative that promotes New York-made beverages and food products partner with the New York State Liquor Store Association to market the week and hold craft beverage tastings.

    In addition, there is a financial component to the initiative.

    Cuomo is asking for a new grant for craft beverage producers to participate in joint marketing campaigns, and wants to offer stipends to breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries to enter national and international competitions that  could help broaden recognition of the state's beverage products.

    Cuomo also wants to establish the "Taste NY Culinary Trail System" that would provide support to the various beverage and food trails. That goes beyond the numerous wine trails that began the consumer-centric effort to encourage consumer involvement by adding regional beer, spirits and cider trails in recent years.

    That trail system would assist with statewide promotion of current trails and serve as a one-stop shop within the state's "Taste NY" program. It would coordinate with the state Office of General Services and the Department of Transportation.
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    'Saratoga Beer Week' a showcase of varied events

    The schedule, with perhaps a few events to be added closer to the time, is out for the 6th annual "Saratoga Beer Week," set for February 21-25.

    The Tuesday through Saturday citywide event will range from specials at individual taverns and restaurants to large public tasting events. Tickets are available online now for both single events and packages.

    Here's a sampling of the variety:

    Saratoga Beer Week Kick-Off Party -- Tuesday, February 21, at  Olde Saratoga Brewing Company. Samples of 20 different New York State-brewed beers, ales and ciders, plus food samples from 10 local restaurants, and live music. Tickets: $30/35.

    Flying High with Lagunitas -- Wednesday, February 22, at Harvey's Restaurant and Pub. Enjoy a pint and build a paper airplane that may win some Lagunitas swag. Free admission.

    3rd Annual Cider Night -- Friday, February 24, at the Saratoga Springs City Center. Three hours of sampling more than 30 hard ciders from all over the country, plus live music, and food available for purchase. Tickets: $30.

    Saratoga Beer Summit -- Saturday, February 25, at the Saratoga City Center. Two sessions: 1 to 4 p.m. (VIP admission at noon) and 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets: $40 until February 25, $50 at the door, $60 for VIP tickets. Standard ticket includes three hours of sampling, a souvenir glass, and live music entertainment. VIP ticket includes four hours of sampling, a souvenir glass, a hat, $5 food voucher, and live music entertainment.
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    Save-the-date: Saratoga wine and beer tasting

    Here's a February save-the-date item:

    The 13th annual "Winterfest Wine & Beer Tasting" is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, February 3, at the Holiday Inn, 232 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. The event is part of the community-wide Saratoga Winterfest.

    Admission is $20 per person at the door, por $30 per couple. That covers sampling of a selection of wines and beers paired with a display of hors d'oeuvres. Proceeds will benefit the Wesley Foundation and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

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    VB Brewery planning 3rd anniversary party

    The VB Brewery in Ontario County is planning a celebration to mark its third anniversary, And, if you play your cards right, free beer could be involved.

    The nanobrewery's party, scheduled for 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday, January 21, will feature the Finger Lakes Food Cart creating food pairings with a flight of four VB beers, live music with the Rick Wahlers Band from 2 to 5 p.m. and 5 Hole from 7 to 10 p.m.

    VB will have 17 beers on tap, including its own birch beer. Select New York State wines and spirits will be available. The food-and-beer flights:
    $20 -- Tuscan Garden Vegetable Soup with VB Apricot Wheat or Garlicky Pork Chili with Doppelbock; Turkey & Swiss Sloppy Joe Panini with Smoked Porter or Chicken Stroganoff with Willamette Dammit Pale Ale; Kale & Quinoa Salad with roasted beets, winter squash and walnuts with blood orange vinaigrette with Coast 2 Coast IPA; Beer S’Mores with Belgian Dubbel.

    $5 -- A single food-and-beer beer pairing from the $20 list.

    The freebie? Everyone wearing a VB shirt or hat will get a free pint of beer.
    VB Brewery is located at 160 School Street in Victor, southeast of Rochester. Phone: (585) 902-8166.
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    Shmaltz Brewing to host 'Winter IPA Fest'

    Nine New York State breweries have been lined up to participate in the 3rd annual "Winter IPA Fest" at Shmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park.

    The event, scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, January 20, in the Shmaltz tasting room, will feature dozens of different IPAs. The other brewers are Adirondack Pub & Brewery, Cooperstown Brewing, Davidson Brothers, Empire Brewing, Greenport Harbor Brewing, Keegan Ales, Mean Max Brew Works, and Saratoga Thoroughbrews.

    The event also will be the scene of the national release for Shmaltz’s Hop Orgy variety 12-pack filled with Hop Manna IPA (Gold Medal, World Beer Championships), Hop Momma IPA (Gold Medal, World Beer Championships), Hop Mania Imperial IPA (Silver Medal, World Beer Championships), and the brand new Hop Orgy IPA.

    Richie Saunders, Shmaltz’s head brewer, will lead an IPA educational seminar called "Do You Know Your IPA?" highlighting the differences in hops for IPAs, double IPAs, and triple IPAs. He also will run a blindfolded tasting and smelling of hops.

    Tickets, priced at $25, are available online. They cover a tasting glass, six drink tokens that can be used with guest breweries, discounts on beer to go and Shmaltz merchandise.

    Shmaltz is located at 6 Fairchild Square in Clifton Park. Phone: 406-5430.
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    Home brewing workshop set for Clifton Park library

    If making beer isn't your thing but you'd like it to be, you may want to look into "Introduction to Homebrewing."

    It's a workshop set for 6 p.m. at the palatial Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, 475 Moe Road in Clifton Park. Members of the Saratoga Thoroughbrews, a club of dedicated homebrewers, will present information and a demonstration on brewing your beers and ales at home.

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    Harvey's, local microbrewery teaming up for a dinner

    Harvey's Restaurant and Bar in Saratoga Springs is teaming up with a local microbrewery operated by a couple of high school teachers for a four-course beer pairing dinner.

    The event, set for 7 to 11 p.m. this Sunday, will team up beers from Artisanal Brew Works with Harvey's cuisine in the Irish-style restaurant's Private Library room. Reservations, priced at $60 per person, are available at both the restaurant and the brewery.

    Harvey's Restaurant and Bar is located at 14 Phila Street. Phone: 583-0003.

    Artisinal Brew Works, owned and operated by Kurt Borchardt and Colin Quinn, is located at 41 Geyser Road. Phone: 594-2337.
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    Albany food and wine fest has extra possibilities

    The focus of the 8th annual "Albany Chefs' Food & Wine Festival: Wine & Dine for the Arts" is the Hilton Albany. But, that doesn't mean the spirit of the event hasn't lapped over into other venues.

    While the main events will be held at the downtown hotel this Thursday through Saturday and nearby venues, 11 local restaurants are offering specials this week, from daily food and cocktail features to one-night dinner events. They are (and you can see their offers here):
    • Albany Marriott
    • Angelo's 677 Prime
    • The Point
    • The Hollow Bar & Kitchen
    • Wellington's
    • Charter at Hilton Albany
    • Rascals
    • Ama Cocina
    • dp An American Brasserie
    • Yono's
    • The Capital Bistro
    As noted in earlier postings here and on my Dowd On  Drinks blog, grand tastings are set for Friday and Saturday, and a "Slider Slam," a gala dinner and competitions for chefs, bartenders and baristas also are on the main schedule.

    Tickets prices come in many forms, from $50 for the slider competition to $1,000 for an all-festival pass for two. Go here for details, but jf you haven't done that earlier you may be disappointed since many sell out early

    Statistics for the festival are impressive: more than 2,500 domestic and imported wines, beers and spirits; food from more than 70 regional chefs from the region; more than 3,000 people expected to attend; and more than  $675,000 raised for local arts organizations in the first seven years.

    You can see the list of beneficiaries here.
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    NYC brewers get tax breaks for the new year

    Now that we're in the new year, it seems a good time to remind anyone interested in, or affected by, such things that a special tax break for New York City craft brewers went into effect this week.

    Back in September, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation authorizing craft breweries in the five boroughs to receive tax credits for every gallon they brew up to 15 million gallons a year.

    City brewers who produce fewer than 60 million gallons a year can receive a 12 cents-per-gallon credit on their city taxes for the first half-million gallons they produce and 3.86 cents per gallon credit on the next 15 million gallons produced.

    There are 29 breweries are operating in the city, 23 more than just five years ago, further proof of the continuation of a statewide boom in craft brewing.
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    Nine Pin Cider hosting The Cheese Queen

    Dancing Queen? Nah, ABBA is not in anymore. Cheese Queen? Now we're talking.

    The Nine Pin Cider Works will host The Cheese Queen at its 929 Broadway location in Albany from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

    For $20, visitors will get a flight of four Nine Pin Ciders paired with four New York State cheeses from Adventure in Food Trading. The Cheese Queen will be in attendance to answer questions about the pairings.
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    This new Vermont brewery can't get much smaller

    Butcher brewing
    What do you call a brewery that is smaller than a major commercial facility? No, I mean smaller than a craft brewery. No, even smaller, smaller than a microbrewery. No, even smaller than a nanobrewery.

    Apparently it's called a picobrewery. I doubt you can get much smaller than that, which is how Butcher Brew, a one-barrel Warren, VT, brewery now in development describes itself.

    The man behind the effort is Steve Butcher, a former Michigan resident who moved to Vermont in 1999. He is a longtime home brewer who decided to go pro in a business he has set up in the basement of his barn, not far from the famous Sugarbush Resort in the central part of the state.

    Butcher is aiming for a spring debut for his kegs and bottles, to be distributed locally via the Mad River Food Hub.

    Here's how he describes his journey: "I started Butcher Beer in Vermont officially in 2015 by incorporating and starting the Federal Brewer’s Notice process. After 18 months of brewing three out of four weekends -- and some weekdays -- a month, revision upon revision of recipes and many, many tastings with friends, I decided it was time to get serious."

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    Wine & Culinary Center expanding beer training offerings

    Its name may be the New York Wine & Culinary Center, but the Canandaigua facility has been continually expanded its involvement in beer and spirits over the past several years.

    This winter, it will be offering two standalone classes as well as the start of a five-part series that will run into late June.

    The first event is an "Introduction to Craft Brewing," scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, February 3. Jim McDermott of Rohrbach Brewing Company of Rochester will bring his 20 years of brewing experience to a class that will include a discussion of the basics of beer making, including sensory attributes and review a variety of styles. It will include a small sampling of food to pair with New York State craft beers. Registration is $40.

    A "Beer Service Class" is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. Monday, February 13. It will cover various parts of the industry, from styles to taste to glassware. Participants will be given a certificate that will allow them to take a cicerone (beer sommelier) certified beer server exam from home online. Registration is $90.

    The five-part "Beer Industry Course" is scheduled for February 27, March 27, April 24, May 22 and June 26, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The series, to be taught by Mike Friedle, a Certified Cicerone, is a development opportunity for industry professionals and beer connoisseurs to hone their skills in the three components of the Certified Exam: in-depth theory, preparation for blind beer tasting, and beer faults. Registration is $125 for each individual class, or $500 for the full five classes.

    Full details and registration information are available online. The New York Wine & Culinary Center is located lakeside at 800 South Main Street in the small Ontario County city.
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    Registration nears for 'National Homebrew Competition'

    If you're planning on entering the annual "National Homebrew Competition," it's time to get updated on the rules and schedule before the registration period opens on January 30.

    Registration runs through February 5, with first-round judging set for March 17–April 23, final judging on June 15, and the awards ceremony on  June 17.

    The competition is open only to American Homebrewers Association members, but joining is a rather simple process, with details available on the AHA website. While this is a homebrewers event, professional brewers may enter as long as they do not use professional equipment or ingredients.

    The AHA has announced that new categories this year will be American Wild Ales, Double IPA, and Specialty IPA.
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    Is Bed Bath & ... beer heading for the Capital Region?

    The corporate folks at the Bed Bath & Beyond chain won't speak publicly about their multi-state foray into alcohol and food sales, but their actions are loud enough to fuel speculation about continued expansion of that niche.

    No word at this point about whether the household furnishings chain will be doing anything along those lines with its four stores in the Capital Region. Corporate executives' practice has been to answer questions from the media and the public only at their annual meeting in June. But, down in Brooklyn,  BB&B has just opened in soft mode a restaurant called Bay Market Kitchen where wine and beer are being served. The restaurant is part at BB&B's 120,000-square-foot Liberty View Industrial Plaza store in Sunset Park.

    The alcohol sales effort for BB&B locations in affluent areas began in the Cleveland suburb of Solon, OH, and the Miami suburb of Aventura, FL, in  2015. Now, work has been sped up on licensing and renovations that will allow sales of wine and beer at BB&B locations in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, IL, and renewal of licenses at many of the Cost Plus World Market subsidiaries in Texas, New Jersey and elsewhere that it acquired in 2012. 

    BB&B has locations at 32 Wolf Road in Colonie, in the Shoppes At Wilton in Saratoga County, in the Mohawk Commons in Niskayuna, and at 388 Feura Bush Road in Glenmont in Albany County, all regarded as affluent suburbs such as those being targeted for alcohol sales by the corporation.
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    Adirondack 'Funky Ice Fest' to feature a prize-winning sour

    The two-weekend "Funky Ice Fest" is coming up at the Adirondack Pub & Brewery.

    Adirondack, whose Sour Project Ale took a gold medal in the "Great American Beer Fest," will host the festival on the long weekends of January 20-22 and 27-29. It will offer ice bars, a playable ice piano, ice sculptures, icy cold beers, and locally-crafted spirits and wine. A deejay will be spinning actual records, and visitors are invited to bring their own vinyl to have it played.

    A variety of sour beers will be featured, including the award-winning one. It’s a Belgian-style golden ale aged 12 months in Pinot Noir barrels and inoculated with brettanomyces yeast and lactobacillus to cause souring. It won the "Great American Beer Fest" award in the Wood- and Barrel-aged Sour Beer category.

    New Adirondack releases include barrel-aged Fat Scotsman (10.5%), a malty scotch ale aged in first-use Kentucky Bourbon barrels; and, Imperial Red (8.5%), a ruby red ale with rye and chocolate malts.

    The Adirondack Pub & Brewery is located at 33 Canada Street in Lake George. Phone: 668-0002.
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    'America's Best IPA' brewer enters expansion phase

    The winnah!
    Some brewers who win industry awards might get a bit puffed up. A Finger Lakes brewery that won a major magazine award for one of its products in 2016 is simply expanding.

    The Prison City Pub & Brewery of Auburn is expanding into the basement space below the pub, which will give it 1,000 square feet more to use as a barrel-aging room and provide space for more fermenters while it looks for a second location to build a larger brewhouse.

    Owner Dawn Hearn Schulz told Ale Street News, “This will tide us over while we look for a new location. We’re really looking to service our own taps better.”

    Prison City brewer Ben Maeso's Mass Riot IPA (6.3% abv) was named the "Best American IPA" by Paste magazine, which chronicles drink, food, lifestyle, fashion, etc. In making that determination the magazine explained:

    "We went through a mind-boggling 247 American IPAs this summer to get to Prison City Pub & Brewery’s Mass Riot. In terms of profile, Mass Riot is a huge, massively tropical, unabashedly juicy hop bomb. Orange juice hits hard, as does pineapple juice and grapefruit candy. Resinous flavors on the back end help rein things in only the slightest bit, but this is definitely a juicy IPA first and foremost, and a moderately sweet one as well. One tasting sheet dubs it 'Caribbean pale ale' for its tropical flavors, while another refers to it as 'The Big Juicy.'

    "In the finals, it was particularly beloved despite having a little bit of age on it, with one taster writing 'Rich and fruity, cantaloupe and citrus, a beautiful combination.' Likewise full in terms of mouthfeel, it seems significantly bigger than its 6.3% ABV, with a body that goes on for days. It’s truly a decadent IPA, and we can’t wait until Prison City is producing a much larger amount of beer so we can taste it more often. In the meantime, we’d settle for just one more taste. The best in America."
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    Otsego brewery unveiling new line from an aged base

    Brewery in converted dairy barn
    Butternuts Beer & Ale of Otsego County is rolling out a new line of specialty draft beers for a New Year "relaunch."

    David Cancio, who is doing the marketing work for the company, says "the base beer for the line is aged over nine months on leaf hops and then a young ale is blended in before a second dry hop process is applied, creating an exceptionally flavorful aromatics brand."

    The line consists of Gravity Wagon Double IPA (8.5%), Bessie’s Cream Ale (5%) made with corn, to be followed by a new IP and a German lager.

    Butternuts also is producing new artwork for its canned beer line, including its Pork Slap Pale Ale and Moo Thunder Stout.

    The brewery was established in 2005 on a 120-acre farm in the Butternut Valley. Brewing is conducted in a renovated dairy barn, usin g water from an on-site spring plus a variety of natural ingredients in creating American-style farmhouse ales with German, English and Belgian influences.

    Butternuts is located at 4021 State Highway 51 in Garratscville, north of Oneonta. Phone: 607-263-5070.
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    Tap room added to Sutton's Marketplace complex

    Sutton's Marketplace
    If you're not familiar with the Farmstead Flatbread tap room, you haven't visited Sutton's Marketplace in Queensbury recently.

    Farmstead Flatbread is the newest entry in the eclectic Sutton's business universe, selling regional craft beers and wood-fired pizza along with locally-produced meats, cheeses and other foodstuffs.

    The owners are Jered Holycross and Jane Sutton. Jane is the daughter of the Suttons -- Donna and the late Steve -- who founded a furniture business in the '70s, then branched into a food marketplace and eventually sold off the furniture portion to concentrate on  the market and cafe.

    Holycross and Sutton are not food business novices. He trained at the Center for Culinary Arts in Cromwell, CT, and she has a degree in hospitality management from Champlain College in Burlington, VT.

    Farmstead Flatbread has a full bar offering locally-distilled spirits and a lineup of more than 20 craft beers. It also offers a menu of sandwiches, salads made from locally sourced produce, meats and cheeses, as well as flatbread pizzas and chicken wings made with a proprietary rub created  by Jane's brother, Gabe Sutton.

    Sutton's Marketplace is located at 1066 Route 9, between Northway exits 19 and 20, Queensbury. Winter Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
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    New Fort Edward taproom offers bistro-style cuisine

    Craft beer eateries keep popping up around the Greater Capital Region, and they're not relying on large population centers or beer alone to support them.

    One of the most recent is the Craft On 9 Tap Room in the Washington County village of Fort Edward, population 10,000. It is located at 1451 Saratoga Road, the former location of the restaurant Luisa's. 

    Robert Murphy
    The owner is Robert Murphy, a native of South Glens Falls who has been in the business for several years. His resume includes being the head chef at George Henry's in Warrensburg and cooking at Bistro Tallulah in Glens Falls.

    Beer is, of course, at the center of the operation, with the likes of Druthers, Allagash, 21st Amendment, Six Point, Jacks Abby, and Black Hog on tap.

    But, the bistro-style the menu is far from the usual bar foods. Recent examples of what Murphy is offering include Craft Ramen (ramen noodles in a bacon dashi broth, with crispy pork belly, smoked pork shoulder, with scallion, nori and a sunnyside-up egg) and Surf & Turf (cumin and brown sugar rubbed Teres Major served atop a cannellini bean, shrimp, sweet pepper, sun-dried tomato, and red onion ragout, topped with asparagus).
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    Kombucha brewers succeed in NY regulatory talks

    Cider has staked out a strong commercial position in New York State in the past few years. Could another ancient drink be next?

    We're talking kombucha here, that centuries-old variety of fermented, slightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks often consumed for their purported health benefits.

    As with so many products, the matter of government regulation comes into play as to whether it will survive and thrive in the marketplace. In New York State, several kombucha brewers who ran into early regulatory opposition seem to have found a way around the barrier.

    The problem has been that state regulators had not decided whether kombucha should be regulated as a food or as an alcoholic beverage. So, the international trade group Kombucha Brewers International (KBI) and two New York members -- Bootleg Bucha of Buffalo and Food and Ferments of Cortland County -- worked with the state to iron out a consensus.

    Now, KBI members who had been told they could not make kombucha without a license from the State Liquor Authority have been approved to do so as long as they meet the food safety requirements decreed by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

    The kombucha brewers will continue to work with state regulators to streamline the process of applying for a state license.

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    Ommegang bed-and-brew weekends are on tap

    If you're looking for a winter getaway without having to travel very far, the "Bed & Brew with Brewery Ommegang" series may be of interest.

    The series of two-night, long-weekend events begins this month and runs through May.

    It includes lodging at The Inn at Cooperstown, a craft beer night on Friday evening, a private tour of Brewery Ommegang, a gourmet beer and food paring dinner in the brewery’s café on Saturday evening, a limited edition jeroboam of Ommegang beer signed by the brewmaster, various merchandise, and transportation to and from the brewery (the two venues are six miles apart).

    A detailed description of the series, plus various packages and links to making reservations, are available online.

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    'Farmer Brewer' weekend returning to Hartwick College

    This year's theme logo
    There may be something different at this year's "Farmer Brewer Winter Weekend." More distillers.

    Organizers of the fifth annual event, scheduled for the weekend of February 4-5 at the Hartwick College Center for Craft Food and Beverage in Oneonta, are urging craft distillers interested in using more local grain and malt "and leveraging the marketing value of that grain-to-glass story" to sign up for the conference along with the usual brewers, growers, etc.

    "Farmer Brewer" is intended to bring together people from the entire grain supply chain -- plant breeders, farmers, maltsters, brewers, and distillers -- to learn from each other and leading industry presenters in a collaborative environment.

    “Every year we try to bring more advanced material so we’re really helping people stay at the cutting edge of their craft,” says Center Director Aaron MacLeod. “I think distillers are looking for ways to connect with the local movement, and certainly using local malts and local grains is a big part of that.”

    The event was created by Andrea and Christian Stanley of the Hadley, MA, malt house Valley Malt in 2013, and was moved to Oneonta last year. It now is presented by the college and the Craft Maltsters Guild. Hartwick College is located at

    MacLeod, a malt and grain chemist, and his Hartwick students provide grain, malt, hops, and beer analysis, as well as business development and education guidance, to farmers, maltsters, brewers, distillers, and others.

    The conference theme this year is “Everything in Modification,” celebrating the four elements needed to make malt: fire, water, air, and time. The full schedule, list of presenters, and registration link are available online. Last year's event sold out, and admission continues to be capped at 100 to maximize interaction.

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    Rip Van Winkle debuts 3 brews, prepping 1 more

    The Catskill brewery Rip Van Winkle Brewing has an ambitious lineup of just-released beers as well as something more in the works through the winter.

    Industry veteran Colin Coan, who became head brewer/director of production in March, tells me he also has "a Belgian-style dubbel that is on the brew deck and should be pouring towards the end of March." Here's how he describes his three recent releases (you can see the full beer menu here).

    Otis Red Wheated Holiday Ale (6% 28 IBU)

    "This ale has been brewed to celebrate the cold, blustery and hearty Catskill -- or Hudson Valley -- winter season. Local Hudson Valley malt was employed with a handful of specialty malts to create a smooth, malty and toasty brew that is balanced by the solid hop additions of Apollo, Amarillo, Zythos and Cascade."

    The Haymaker (5.8% 25 IBU)

    "The next installment of our ever-evolving Catskill Black Beer Series. It's a Belgian-styled stout that is ink black in color from the roasted/kilned malts. The addition of rolled oats and crystal malts helps create a silky mouthfeel that is rounded off with a subtle spicy yeast note and traditional English hops."

    ESB (6% 30 IBU)

    "A traditional style bitter with a smooth malt body balanced with Fuggle and Goldings hops."

    The brewery is part of Angela's Italian Bistro & Brewery, 4545 NY Route 32, in Catskill. Phone: 678-9275.

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    Lift a pint to salute Guinness's birthday

    Arthur Guinness
    Pssst. See that guy over there on the right? He's responsible for the Irish government's major income stream, something more important than ever now that the economic chaos that has roiled around the world has hit Ireland a rollicking good thwack.

    Today is the 257th anniversary of the founding of the iconic Guinness Brewery at St. James's Gate in Dublin by that fella, a man by the name of Arthur Guinness. At one time, it was the largest brewery in the world.

    Guinness leased the property for a term of up to 9,000 (no kidding) years at an annual rent of £45 per year. That means the lease will come up for renewal in the year 10759 A.D. I suspect the rent will go up.

    The adjacent Guinness Storehouse is Dublin's No. 1 tourist attraction. The converted brewing factory is a seven-story Guinness museum, the topmost of which is home to the Gravity Bar, where visitors can get a free pint of "the black stuff," as the dark Guinness stout is known.

    Entrance to the original brewery

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    The Real McCoy unveils a new IPA for a new year

    Mike Bellini
    The Real McCoy, which bills itself very specifically as "Delmar's first nano craft brewery," is releasing a new IPA on tap for New Year's Eve day.

    "Not sure what I will call this one yet," says owner/brewmaster  Mike Bellini, who notes that his new product was "made using Queen City Malt from Buffalo, and hopped with my very own homegrown Brewers Gold for bittering and some Loral, Calypso and Equinox for aroma and a unique taste."

    He'll be filling growlers from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday at the 20 Hallwood Road taproom near the Town of Bethlehem hamlet's Four Corners commercial intersection.

    Bellini, who began as a hoimebrfewer, started The Real McCoy in a garage about 15 months ago, and already had to expand his brewing equiment to meet quickly growing local demand.

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    Bon Appétit: New Columbia Co. brewery 'most impressive'

    Suarez Family Brewery (Facebook photo)
    Bon Appétit magazine usually is thought of more for its stories on food than drink, but it doesn't ignore beverages. It just posted something called "The Year In Beer," and in it anointed a Columbia County brewery "2016's Most Impressive New Brewery."

    The brewery is the little Suarez Family Brewery in the wilds of Livingston, about nine miles south of Hudson. You can read the entire story here, but I liked the first few paragraphs so much I want to share them now:
    "In 2016 your brother’s college roommate started a brewery. Your next door neighbor’s cousin started a brewery. The pharmacist who used to fill your prescriptions at CVS started one. Same with the dude who sliced your deli meat. Everyone started a brewery this year, and we all drank a lot of beer.

    "We’ve surpassed the pre-Prohibition number of breweries, when every town had a local brewer. There are more breweries in the U.S. than there have ever been before -- 5,005 as of December 1. And, 850 breweries opened in total this year, according to the Brewers Association. More than two breweries opened per day."

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    Queensbury brewery's new owners name general manager

    Bob Craven
    The new owners of a Queensbury brewery have hired a veteran of the local brewing scene to oversee the operation.

    Bob Craven is the new general manager of Glens Falls Brewing Co. in Queensbury, created three years ago by the Davidson Brothers Brewing Co. of Glens Falls and now owned by Northern Eagle Beverages Inc. of Oneonta.

    The sale was announced in July and finalized last month, but terms were not made public. The 22,000-square-foot brewery was constructed in a former movie theater by local businessmen John and Rick Davidson in 2013. They now are concentrating their efforts on their Glens Falls brewpub, Davidson Brothers Brewing, which they founded in 1996.

    Craven was hired as general manager of Shmaltz in 2013 when it created its first standalone brewing facility, in Clifton Park. Previously, he was general manager of Olde Saratoga Brewing.

    At the time of the closing, Northern Eagle president George Allen said he and company chairman Lou Hager Jr. have plans to expand the Queensbury operation. That would be in line with their actions with Northern Eagle, a distributor of Budweiser and Michelob beer that sells and delivers 800,000 cases a year in a three-county area, a significant number given the relatively small population of Otsego, Chenango, and Delaware counties.

    This is not the first acquisition by Northern Eagle. In 2014 it purchased the Cooperstown Brewing Co., and started a hops farm just outside Cooperstown. In the first year of ownership of Cooperstown, the company said, production was increased from 2,000 to 10,000 cases of beer. At the time the Glens Falls Brewing purchase was announced, Allen said a canning line and the addition of non-alcoholic beverage lines to the brand’s portfolio were part of the projected changes.

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    Before New Year's Eve, check out 'Toasts & Crumbs'

    We're just about at the big moment, that countdown when we usher in yet another New Year. And you, of course, would like to be the star of the show by offering the perfect toast.

    The only problem: You don't know one. Luckily, I do. In fact, I have an entire website of them, called "Toasts & Crumbs." (The subtitle is, "When Words Fail You, Try These.")

    A couple of examples:

    "Always remember to forget
    The troubles that pass away. 
    But never forget to remember 
    The blessings that come each day."


    "May all your troubles
    during the coming year 
    be as short-lived
    as your New Year's resolutions." 

    Just go here for the full archive.

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    'Beer and Shmear' continuing at Shmaltz Brewing

    If you're going to be looking for a quick bite-and-brew in January, consider Shmaltz Brewing Company's "Beer and Shmear" series it is carrying over from 2016.

    Each Sunday at noon beginning on New Year's Day, the oh-so-Jewish facility will be offering a sampling of five of its He'brew brand beers in its tasting room, plus a traditional bagel and cream cheese to go along with it.

    Shmaltz isn't unique in promoting the beer-and-bagels concept. Actually, it's quite popular around the country. A good example can be found in this pairing guide from Draft magazine.

    Shmaltz is located at 6 Fairchild Square in Clifton Park. Phone: 406-5430.

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    Experimental dry hopped beers at Helderberg Incubator

    Helderberg Brewery has just released a series of dry hopped beers in collaboration with Stonewood Hops of Lagrangeville, Dutchess County.

    Ron Spadafora, Stonewood’s owner-operator, is exploring different techniques for processing whole hop cones grown on his farm, according to the Helderberg Brewery Incubator, an arm of the Carey Institute for Global Good in the Helderberg Mountains community of Rensselaerville.

    Spadafora "came to the incubator to compare his method with commercially-processed hops. Working with brewer Greg Hostash, Ron set up four different dry hop tests, comparing two varieties of hops. Flights of the resulting beers were served in [our] tap room [on December 9] and will continue to be available for customers to test and give feedback."

    Spadafora is the second participant in the brewery incubator. The first, Damian Wolos, developed a Mexican lager recipe using New York-grown ingredients earlier this year.

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