Lake Placid restaurateur Ed Kane eulogized by officials

Ed Kane at work
Ed Kane, founder and owner of the Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood Company and the Great Adirondack Brewing Company, died on January 14 at the age of 86, and this week the community said its goodbyes, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Kane, a native of Brooklyn and a former U.S. Marine, joined the Lake Placid food-and-beverage scene in 1982 when he purchased The Artist’s Cafe at 1 Main Street in the village.

 “I’m certainly going to miss him for all of the years he would step out of his office and walk around Mirror Lake,” Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said Tuesday at the village board meeting. “I remember seeing him every day making that walk around the lake. He was religious about that. And certainly our sympathies go out to his family.”

Village Trustee Art Devlin added, “He was one of Lake Placid’s colorful characters. Lake Placid is known for having quite a few. He’s a good guy who cared about Lake Placid and wasn’t afraid to get up and speak his mind, which a lot of people aren’t always inclined to do. He’s certainly going to be missed.”

Fred, Willie and Rob, the sons of Ed and Joan Kane, continue the family tradition at the steak and seafood restaurant on Main Street, which they opened in 1987, and the brewing company, established in 1998. The family operated the Artist’s Cafe until 2001.

In keeping with Ed's wishes, there is no formal service, but the family said it will celebrate his  life in the spring, and his cremains will be placed in the Sussdorff Family Cemetery in Port Kent.
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Report: Taste NY program helped triple sales in 2016

The state's Taste NY program created to promote the state's food and beverage industries is three years old. So, how is it doing?

Sales of those items nearly tripled in 2016, according to an analysis just released by Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, surpassing what it says was his goal of doubling sales of participating businesses in one year.

Total gross sales of New York products from Taste NY stores, cafés, bars, concessions and events topped $13.1 million last year, the highest annual sales in the program’s brief history.

“Taste NY continues to connect New York’s world-class farmers and food and beverage producers with New Yorkers hungry for locally made goods, as well as those across the nation and around the world who crave the high quality of Empire State-made products," Cuomo said. “These sales numbers are proof positive of Taste NY's success and we will continue investing in this program to help create jobs and spur economic growth in businesses and communities across New York."

The sales increase in 2016 was supported by the addition of four new Taste NY stores and cafés. In addition, the first-ever Taste NY Bar was opened at Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and the New York Islanders hockey team. A second later was opened at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.

New York products also are offered on 13 Amtrak trains and at five minor league baseball stadiums in the state, and at dozens of major events around New York. Cuomo's 2017-18 Executive Budget proposes support for Taste NY at new welcome centers across the state.

The budget proposal also includes expanding the sale of alcoholic beverages in certain venues, such as movie theaters, an effort to provide a boost to the state’s craft beverage industry, although Cuomo's message does not limit that to New York products as an earlier speech seemed to indicate.  In addition, Cuomo has proposed the launch of a first-ever "New York Craft Beverage Week" and a new grant for craft beverage producers to engage in joint marketing campaigns and enter products in national and international competitions.

Richard A. Ball, state agriculture commissioner, says, “Taste NY has given consumers an opportunity to better understand what the State has known all along -- our local food and beverage companies are truly second to none.  Because of the strong, positive response to the Taste NY brand, agricultural producers and small businesses in every region of the state are growing, expanding their operations and adding jobs, and helping to strengthen the State economy.” 

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Catching you up on beer-centric activities

Here's a small sampling of the many beer-centric events going on in the Greater Capital Region.

• The 6th annual Saratoga Beer Week will run from next Tuesday through Saturday, February 25, at the Saratoga City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, and numerous other venues throughout the city. Many have scheduled sampling sessions for various New York State beers. Go here for the full rundown of all events.

• Executive chef Matt Weekes of Henry Street Taproom, 86 Henry Street, Saratoga Springs, is teaming with Christian Weber of Common Roots Brewing Company of South Glens Falls and Kevin Mullen of Rare Form Brewing Company of Troy for a four-course beer pairing dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday. Reservations are $65. Phone: (518) 886-8938.

Bailey's Cafe, 37 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, will offer a New York beer pairing menu from Tuesday through Saturday, February 25, as part of Saratoga Beer week, from noon to 11 p.m. each day. It will feature such labels as Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, Saratoga Local Session IPA, Saranac Legacy IPA, and Druthers Fist of Karma Brown. Phone: (518) 583-6060.

• A tasting of gluten free beers and ciders will be held at Kraverie from 4:30 to 10 p. m. Wednesday, February 22. A sampling of gluten free food items also will be available. Kraverie is located at  78 Beekman Street, Saratoga Springs. Phone: (518) 450-7423.

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Event reminders

• The 2nd annual "Gathering of the Farm Cideries" at Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany is set for this Saturday. Go here for the details from an earlier posting.

• The 8th annual "Mac-n-Cheese Bowl" is scheduled for this Saturday at Siena College's Marcelle Athletic Complex. Go here for details from an earlier posting.

• "Saratoga Beer Week" kicks off next Tuesday, and runs through the following Saturday. The
citywide event will range from specials at individual taverns and restaurants to large public tasting events. Go here for details from an earlier posting.
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An updated guide to the beverage trails of New York State

Cover image of the beverage trail website.
The recent news that the fledgling Rochester-Finger Lakes Craft Beverage Trail is getting close to official designation by the state was just the latest example of the burgeoning number of tourism trails dealing with more than wineries.

There are 21 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries on the trail, an informal entity since 2014 but now awaiting an OK by the state Assembly before going to the governor's office for signature.

Keeping up with the many possibilities to visit, with more than 20 trails and hundreds of members spread from Lake Erie on the far west of the state to Montauk Point on the far eastern point of Long Island, can be a daunting task. But, never fear, there is a handy guide to cut through it all.

My recently-updated and redesigned New York State Beverage Trails site offers a complete list of the trails and their members, with live links to individual websites and contact information. Bear in mind, some companies belong to more than one trail, depending on their geographic or product overlaps.
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The Sinclair beer-and-games parlor to debut in Saratoga

Inside The Sinclair
The space at 17 Maple Avenue in Saratoga Springs that opened to over-the-top rah-rah coverage by some of the foodie media as Javier's, then quickly flopped, is in the process of being brought back to life.

Hilary Morrison, owner of what she is  calling The Sinclair, is promising a summer debut for a beer garden and coin-operated game room there. Right now, she is using some of the space for an a la carte event venue.

Morrison, who has signed up Rory Moran of Comfort Kitchen as her consulting chef during the development phase, plans to make a rotating lineup of New York State-produced beers along with a collection of vintage games plus Foosball and board games the centerpieces of her venture.

Javier's, billed as a "nuevo Latino" restaurant, closed in the Maple Avenue location in November 2014 after less than 20 months in operation. It was headed by Javier Rodriguez, a well-known New York City maitre'd who came to the Capital Region after his employer, the popular River Cafe in Brooklyn, was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy and closed. The creation of the restaurant Javier's was met with near-orgasmic coverage by a number of local food-and-restaurant bloggers, but that did not help it translate into long-term success.
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RateBeer ranks 4 NYS brewers among world's top 100

And, at last, we come to the final look at the annual RateBeer Best awards results, which its organizers have been releasing bit by bit this week.

This portion is the "Best Brewers" worldwide category. Go here and here for other results released earlier this week in which the Suarez Family Brewery of Livingston, Columbia County, did wonderfully.

Two Brooklyn entites are ranked among the top 10, and two other New York State brewers join them in the top 100 category.

According to the competition rules, "The summarization is based on 10 different weighted scales that place an emphasis on reviews of the past year and top performing beers. It also includes historical all-around performance, a brewer's range of performance across styles, and other factors to compare newer and older, larger and smaller brewers under a single method of processing. The winners here are presented as an ordered top 10 and unordered top 100. The members of this list reflect the top performing brewers of more than 22,500 listed at RateBeer.

The top 10, in order:
  1. Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro, VT
  2. Cycle Brewing, St. Petersburg, FL
  3. Trillium Brewing Company, Boston, MA
  4. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
  5. Cloudwater Brew Company, Manchester, England
  6. Brouwerij de Molen, Bidegraven, Netherlands
  7. De Garde Brewing, Tillamook, OR
  8. Three Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, IN
  9. Evil Twin Brewing, Brooklyn, NY
  10. Other Half Brewing, Brooklyn, NY 
And, some listed in the unordered remainder of the top 100 that may be of particular interest in the Greater Capital Region beer community:
  • Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown 
  • Southern Tier Brewing, Lakewood, Chautauqua County

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Ommegang reveals its annual 'Game of Thrones' brew early

Bend the Knee collectible versions
"Game of Thrones" isn't scheduled to return to HBO for its seventh season until some time this summer. That, however, has not prevented Brewery Ommegang from revealing its annual GOT-themed beer.

To commemorate the usual mix of intrigue, sex, war, sex, treachery, sex and ... sex, the Cooperstown brewery has created Bend the Knee Golden Ale. It will be available on draft and in a series of three collectible 750ml bottles, all finished in matte black and adorned with one of the three Great House sigils: Stark, Targaryen, or Lannister.

Like GOT, Bend the Knee is a potent brew at 9.0% abv, and carries a suggested retail price of $10.99 per bottle. It will be released around Memorial Day, well ahead of the GOT resumption. Incidentally, Ommegang hasn't appropriated the GOT theme. It has a working agreement with HBO's Global Licensing and Retail department.

“With this next 'Game of Thrones'-inspired release, we wanted a beer and a pack that was fit for a king or a queen,” said Brewery Ommegang president Doug Campbell. “Drawing from a rich Belgian brewing tradition, Golden Strong Ales are deceptive due to their unique combination of extreme drinkability and relatively high alcohol content. Bend the Knee walks that line, while also incorporating the delicate flavors of honey into the mix. The subtle noble and floral hop contribution adds to its delicateness, and the beer finishes smooth and dry.”
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NYS brewery count nearing pre-Prohibiton level

Today's beer quiz: How many craft beer producers are licensed in New York State -- 227, 326, 419 or 502?

The New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA) this week released the latest official count of 326, which means the industry has topped the 300 mark for the first time since Prohibition and appears headed for the pre-Prohibition high mark of 350.

The growth in regional breweries adds to a $4 billion economic impact in the state, ranking it fourth highest in the country.

With so many breweries across the state, keeping track of them can be a bit of a chore. Later this month, the NYSBA will debut its first iOS/Android app designed to be a one-stop mobile location for New York breweries and beers. Among its features will be a rewards-based "Passport" program, brewery locations by region, label scanning, suggested brewery tours, beer lists, and style guides.

The Passport program allows users to “stamp” their passport when they visit breweries while incrementally earning rewards such as brewery discounts, gear, and plaques. I'll pass along the details when they are available.
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Brewing Up Humor

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.

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Suarez Family Brewery gets another major honor

The latest release of results in the annual RateBeer Best judging -- they release them in dribs and drabs over a week by certain categories -- has a little Columbia County brewery honored once more.

On Monday, the Suarez Family Brewery of Livingston was named one of the 10 best "New Brewers in the World." Today, it was ranked No. 5 and a gold medalist in the pilsners category for its Suarez Family Palatine Pils.

Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown was awarded a bronze medal in the Belgian-style ales category for its Abbey Dubbel Ale.

Regional pride apart, the part of the announcement today that really caught my eye was the number of honors for the Hill Farmstead Brewery of Vermont.

It was named "Best Bewery in the World" and, obviously, "Best Brewery" in Vermont and in the U.S.  This is the third year in a row and the fourth time in the past five years that the brewery has been honored as "Best Brewery in the World." Twenty-six of its beers were honored with medals, 11 of them Gold, during a ceremony in Santa Rosa, CA, after the judging.

The original inn logo
Hill Farmstead Brewery describes itself as "the culmination of many years of travel and insight -- of experience and education -- of friendships and explorations. The brewery is the revival and continuation of 225 years of Hill heritage and handcrafted history ... . Its logo is retrieved from a sign that once hung in Aaron Hill's (our great-great-great-grandfather) tavern, just up the hill, in the early 1800s."

The brewery is located in Greenstead Bend in northern Vermont, about an hour-and-a-half drive east of Burlington.

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Brewing Up Humor

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Guinness to build Maryland facility to supply U.S. market

Drawing of the proposed facility.
Guinness has a strong U.S presence, but it may get even stronger.

The iconic Irish brewer's parent company, Diageo, has chosen Maryland as the site of a brewery that will be built to solely supply the American market.

Diageo's announcement said the Baltimore County project, which will cost an estimated $50 million, will be modeled on the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Dublin, and will include a visitor center. "The new brewery would be a home for new Guinness beers created for the U.S. market, while the iconic Guinness Stouts will continue to be brewed at St. James’s Gate in Dublin," Diageo said.

Thus, Diageo will continue to import Guinness Stouts from Ireland while Guinness Blonde and newer innovative beers intended for the U.S. beer drinker will be developed and produced in Maryland.

Construction will start in the spring, with a projected fall completion that would coincide with the 200th anniversary of exports of the classic Irish stout to the U.S. The last time Guinness had a U.S. brewery was in the 1950s.
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Druthers adding 3rd location, near Schenectady casino

Today's press conference making the announcement.
Druthers, which has brewpub locations in Saratoga Springs and Albany, is adding a third in Schenectady, according to an announcement made today.

The new spot will be in the Mohawk Harbor development adjacent to the Rivers Casino and Resort that is scheduled to open next Wednesday, February 8.

According to the joint announcement by Druthers and the Galesi Group that is building the Mohawk Harbor complex, the brewpub will open sometime this summer.

Druthers' original location, opened in 2012, is at 381 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, and its second is at 1053 Broadway, Albany. The company website has an entertaining page explaining its development over the years.
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Columbia Co. brewer named among world's 10 best newbies

A fledgling Columbia County brewery has burst on the scene with a major international award unveiled today.

The Suarez Family Brewery, which officially opened last June, was ranked No. 10 in the "Best New Brewers in the World" category, according to the annual RateBeer Best competition, which is dribbling out its awards results this week from its Santa Rosa, CA, event.

"These are the top brewers who started collecting their first ratings on or after Q3 2015. Considering there were more than 6,500 new worldwide brewers registered in this period, these 10 are an extremely elite bunch of the freshman class," the announcement says.

"Dan Suarez and Taylor Cocalis Suarez have made their brewery in the small town of Livingston, NY, population 3,646. Here they create farmhouse, mixed fermentation beers, small hop forward beers and Dan's darling -- unfiltered pilsners. Taylor has as one of the brewery's guiding principles: 'You have the responsibility to make beers that are part of a specific point of view that you have. The job of someone who's really good at what they do is not always to give people what they say they want.' "

In the same category, Foam Brewers, founded last year in Burlington, VT, is ranked No. 6. Others in the category are from Belgium, Oklahoma, California, Florida, Oregon, Virginia, the Netherlands, and Poland.

In the top beers, brewers and new brewers ranked by subregions (states), Suarez Family obviously was the top newbie in New York State, with top beer and top brewer honors going to Double Barrel Jesus from Evil Twin Brewing, a Brooklyn brewer with Danish roots.

The Suarez operation is located at 2278 Route 9 in Livingston, about 10 miles from Hudson. Phone: (518) 537-6464.

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Samuel Adams reformulates its successful IPA

You have to give it to Jim Koch. The Boston Beer CEO isn't afraid to tinker with success.

The brewer's Samuel Adams Rebel IPA, launched in 2014 to solid consumer response, has been reformulated with the addition of several hops. In addition to the original blend of Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe and Chinook hops Rebel now has Mosaic hops, experimental bittering hop HBC 682 and HBC 566, a new hop variety proprietary to Sam Adams.

It now is brewed solely with Samuel Adams’ two-row malt blend, and caramel malt has been removed from the grain bill. According to the company, Rebel IPA’s new flavor profile is “less malty,” and features more tropical, citrus and pine-like notes.

So, why the change? As Koch told the Boston Globe, "Rebel was well received, but I have this motto that the status quo sucks. The only reason the status quo exists is because we haven’t yet figured out how to do it better. We apply that to our beers.”

This is the first time Boston Beer has changed the formula of one of its prominent beers.

The company also is releasing Rebel Juiced, a 6.2% abv version of Rebel plus flavorings from such fruits as tangerine and mango to complement its Mosaic, Mandarina and Zeus hops.

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Ommegang releases new Sirens' Song dark ale

Brewery Ommegang has released its first limited-edition product of the new year.

The Cooperstown brewer's Sirens’ Song is a Belgian-style dark ale, brewed with a blend of noble hop varieties, figs and raisins. The 9% abv ale is available for a limited time on draft and in 12-ounce bottled four-packs.

“Belgian-style dark ales are a treat to drink,” says Ommegang’s Innovation Manager Justin Forsythe, who developed the recipe. “Sirens’ Song is brewed with dark Belgian candi syrup to impart decadent notes of dark fruit and burnt sugar, and also brewed with raisins and figs in order to compliment the rich, fruity character of this dark ale. It’s a wonderful wintertime treat, or a beer to age for years to come.”
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Canned beer 'officially' turned 82 this week

The first canned beer
For those of you who like to pop open a cold one from time to time, do so today to celebrate a remarkable achievement. It was this week in 1935 that the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company of Newark, NJ, sold the first canned beer -- in Richmond, VA.

So, even though January 24 became the "official" birthday of canned beer, it actually made its debut 14 months earlier when the American Can Company showed off its workable beer can. Krueger was the first company to agree to use it.

"By the end of that month, American had installed a temporary canning line and delivered 2,000 Krueger's Special Beer cans, which were promptly filled with 3.2% Krueger beer -- the highest alcohol content allowed at the time," according to a history of the process from the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (BCCA).

'Church key' collection
The photo above of a can of Krueger's Special Beer appeared in the December 28, 1933, issue of Brewer's News but, according to the BCCA, no current example of an actual can has been positively verified to exist.

"The 2,000 cans of beer were given to faithful Krueger drinkers; 91% gave it thumbs up, and 85% said it tasted more like draft than bottled beer. Reassured by this successful test, Krueger gave canning the green light, and history was made," the BCCA article goes on. 

The first cans were made of steel and weighed about four ounces, a far cry from today's lightweight thin aluminum cans. And, they required that iconic device colloquially called a "church key" to open them by puncturing a triangular-shaped hole on one side of the top and a small hole punched opposite it to equalize the pressure of the carbonated beverage.

In that fine American tradition, many brewers and beverage companies had their names stamped on the openers, which usually had a sharp piercing point on one end and either a hole at the other end for putting the opener on a hook, or a slotted or bent end for prying bottle caps off soft drink containers.

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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 his 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

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.

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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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