Hill Farmstead Brewery hires Otter Creek's brewmaster

Mike Gerhart
The Vermont brewery named by the influential website RateBeer the world's best brewery three years in a row has enlisted an iconic brewmaster from another Vermont company.

Mike Gerhart, the brewmaster at Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, has joined the Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend, according to the Burlington Free Press.

Gerhart is seen in cartoon form on most Otter Creek Brewing labels and cans with long hair, a tie-dye headband, a VW bus and his dog. Gerhart also was brewmaster at the Shed Brewery in Middlebury.

Hill Farmstead's next release, scheduled for Wednesday, is Birth of Tragedy: Kochere, an imperial porter brewed with honey and aged in apple brandy barrels on Kochere coffee from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia.

"We have chosen two barrels of Birth of Tragedy as the base for this single origin coffee experiment," the company said in  an announcement. "After aging for 20 months in apple brandy barrels, we conditioned the beer atop Ethiopian Kochere coffee beans sourced and roasted by The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, Denmark.  These friends long ago changed our worldview as to what coffee could be.  After months of bottle conditioning, the beer is ready for release."

It will sell for $20 for the 375ml size, limit 1 per person. The brewery's bottle release policy is available online.
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Queensbury country store seeks OK to serve wine, beer

From The Post-Star
QUEENSBURY -- Stores may soon be allowed to serve wine and beer in the neighborhood commercial zones in response to a proposal from The Cleverdale Country Store. ...

The store owner is considering ways in which the store could serve its wine and locally brewed beers, which are sold by the bottle there now. She envisions visitors sipping on a new deck, enjoying the outdoors.

"We're not considering being a tavern by any means," said owner Meghan Cesari. "I just want to serve beer and wine with lunch and dinner. There will be no bar in here."

She asked the town about the zoning restrictions and learned that she wouldn't be allowed to serve alcohol unless the zone changes. But she got support from the board for her proposal.
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Erie Canal theme for Hudson Valley Hops event

"Beer & The Eric Canal," marking the bicentennial of the groundbreaking for the historic waterway, will be the theme of the 6th annual "Hudson Valley Hops" event.

The celebration of the history of brewing in the region and of today’s craft beer industry will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 8, at the Albany Institute of History & Art. Admission is $35 or $30 for museum members in advance by calling (518) 463-4478 extension 412, or by going online. Prices are $5 higher at the door.

In addition to offering samples of local craft beers, the event will include talks by beer historians and brewing experts, an exhibition of historic beer artifacts and photographs, and a tasteoff of IPAs from such regional breweries as Brown's Brewing, The Beer Diviner, Argyle Brewing, Chatham Brewing, C.H. Evans/Albany Pump Station, Green Wolf Brewing, Rare Form Brewing, Rip Van Winkle Brewery, Shmaltz Brewing, and S & S Brewery.

The Albany Institute is located at 125 Washington Avenue in downtown Albany.
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Brewery LaHoff development just waiting on the weather

Site of the in-development farm brewery. (Photo provided)
If the weather and all other factors cooperate, the next brewery to open in the Greater Capital Region will be in Coxsackie. Well, Climax, to be specific.

At what will be called Brewery LaHoff, they're waiting for a warm spell so some concrete can be poured at the Vedder Road site just off Route 81. This recent photo shows the current condition of the venue.

The company was incorporated in Greene County in November 2016 by Andre Latour, who will be owner and brewmaster of the four-barrel brewery located on an old dairy farm and orchard site. Latour tells me the brewery and tasting room "is going to be located in one of the existing barns on the property. I don't have an exact age of the barn. It is believed to be about 117 years old. A hop yard also is in the plans, and we intend to clean up the existing orchard on the property and plant some new trees."

Latour began the process about 11 months ago with site engineering, zoning and local review. Construction began in late fall should be wrapped up within the next two months, and the brewing system should be arriving by June.

"Originally, I was shooting for a September 1 opening," LaTour said, "but it might not be until mid to late Fall. It will just depend on the licensing approvals."

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Troy's Bootleggers planning a slammin' brunch event

The title isn't grammatical, and its different versions can be confusing, but it does sound tasty.

It's the "Brunch & Brew's Fest 2" at Bootleggers on Broadway in Troy.

(Or, Bootlegger's, or  Bootlegger's Bar & Grill, depending on where you look it up. Please, guys, pick one, drop the apostrophe, and end the angst.)

Tickets for the event, available online, are $40 in advance or $45 at the door when it begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 8. The lineup of attractions includes an all-you-can-eat brunch, unlimited sampling of beers from more than a dozen breweries including Brown's Brewing, Lake Placid and Ommegang; mimosas, a Bloody Mary bar featuring Pick Six vodka, and various other drinks samples.

Bootleggers, founded in 2011, is located in the historic Hendrick Hudson Building at 200 Broadway in downtown Troy. Phone: (518) 874-4475.

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New Catskills brewery project plans July debut

Crossroads Brewing under construction (photo provided)
The Crossroads Brewing Company, which  has been operating as the brew house and restaurant 21 2nd St. in Athens, will open for business in Catskill this summer.

21 2nd St. was opened at the former home of the Brooks Opera House in October 2009  by Ken Landin and Janine Bennett.

The brewery construction has begun in the former Columbia-Greene Media printing press building by Dimensions North of Catskill, and a Fourth of July opening of the tap room is being projected by the owners.

The expansion will have the capacity to hold 10,000 barrels compared to the 900-barrel brew house in Athens, and will allow Crossroads to market and sell its products to adjacent states.

Go here for the full story on the project.

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Livingston Co. business contest sparks craft beverage boom

Livingston County, NY, entered 2017 with a grand total of one craft brewery and one cidery. That is about to change, big time.

In an effort to take advantage of the alcoholic beverage industry boom and create jobs in the county of some 65,000 residents a business plan competition called "Brew In Livingston" was created by the county's Economic Development Office. It also was intended to create a craft beverage trail to promote business cooperation and potential tourism.

On Friday, seven winners were announced. Four of them each will receive $35,000 microenterprise grants for furniture, fixtures, and equipment, as well as a one-year membership to the New York State Brewers Association, and free tax assistance from EFPR Group, a Rochester tax accountancy. The four are:
The county also will work with three others to seek additional funding, They are:
The effort is being funded by $185,000 in state grants announced Friday  by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The grants were awarded by the state through the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council and the region's Finger Lakes Forward economic development initiative.

The funds also will help establish a Brewing Microenterprise Program in Livingston County which will begin with four local businesses that will create 16 fulltime jobs and leverage $400,000 in additional resources from across the region.

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Glens Falls Brew Fest creates 'Taps & Apps' prequel

You've heard of "after parties," of course, but what about a "before party"? There's one coming up in Glens Falls.

It's a 50-ticket "Taps & Apps" event that will be held on Friday, March 31, the day before the annual Glens Falls Brewfest. It's a craft beer and seven-appetizer tasting put together by Mean Max Brew Works and the SUNY Adirondack culinary program. It will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Queensbury Hotel, 88 Ridge Street. Tickets are on sale now at Mean Max, 193 Glen Street.

Then, from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 1, also at the Queensbury, the Glens Falls Brewfest will offer tastings of beers, wines and ciders from regional and and national producers although a list of participating makers has not yet been revealed. Tickets, available online, are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Proceeds benefit Adirondack Theatre Festival and the Feeder Canal Alliance.

In addition to the beverages, live music will be provided, along with free food samples while supplies last from SUNY Adirondack, Davidson Brothers Restaurant & Brewery, 190 Grille + Cinema, Cooper's Cave Ale Company, Carl R's, and the host hotel.
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Century House, Brown's teaming up for pairing event

A pair of longtime Capital Region food-and-drink purveyors is teaming up for a craft beer tasting and food pairing event.

The Century House will host the event in cooperation with Brown's Brewing Company of Troy at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21. Reservations, which are required, are available at $52.50 plus tax and tip, by calling (518) 213-0958 or emailing Monica@TheCenturyHouse.com.
The four-course menu:
• Pretzel-crusted halibut, mustard risotto, fava beans, paired with Brown's Vienna Lager
•  Duck confit, smoked duck breast, grain salad, arugula, paired with Brown's cherry raspberry ale BBQ sauce, paired with Brown's Cherry Raspberry Ale

• Pan-seared wild boar chops, fried cheddar polenta, grilled fennel salad, apple gastrique, paired with Brown's Oatmeal Stout

• Spice cake flavor timbale chocolate cheesecake, paired with Brown 's IPA
The Century House is located at 997 New Loudon Road (Route 9) in Latham.
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New Schenectady brewery sets official opening date

Hauling in the tanks (Photo provided)
The in-development Great Flats Brewing project in Schenectady is almost ready to open.

Owner Harry Whalen has announced it will officially open on Sunday, March 25, three months after moving its new tanks into the facility.

Great Flats is named for the aquifer that supplies its water and, indeed, water for the entire city. Whalen's focus is on creating American styles ales and lagers.

Whalen selected a former vehicle service garage at 151 Lafayette Street to turn into a farm brewery. That space became available when Crossfit 518 moved its operation to North College Street. It is recognizable by the glass rollup doors left over from its garage incarnation.

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Craft brewing trailblazer opens own Rockland County brewery

Jeff O'Neil
From Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
Jeff O'Neil, the man behind Ithaca Beer's textbook Flower Power India pale ale and other genre-bending wild ales, is a pioneer in New York State craft beer. He's responsible for changing the way a lot of people looked at and enjoyed craft beer. ...

O'Neil, 42, who started at Ithaca Beer in 2002 before moving on to Peekskill Brewing, recently opened his own brewery, Industrial Arts Brewing, in Garnerville, Rockland County.
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Brown's Brewing Co. moving away from bottled beers

North Hoosick brewing facility
From the Times Union
The new German-made Leibinger canning equipment that [Brown's Brewing Company owner Garry Brown] recently installed in the North Hoosick warehouse that brews his beers has a $1.2 million price tag and is a big shift for both his company and craft beer in the Capital Region.

Most beer produced in the region is immediately placed in kegs (for distribution or for the brewery's own use) or bottled in brown glass. Brown's plans to use bottles only for special releases. The move to cans is pricey, but the benefits of canned beer has appeal for brewers and customers.

"Cans are like a mini keg. They keep our product fresher for longer," says Kelly Brown, Garry's wife and business partner. Garry Brown cites more positives about cans: They have a longer shelf life than bottles and let in less light and oxygen (helping to keep beer fresh), are cheaper to ship because they are lighter than bottles, easier to store and are more environmentally friendly than bottles, as they require less resources to recycle.
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'TAP NY' craft beer fest ready for its 20th anniversary event

The 20th annual "TAP NY Craft Beer and Food Festival" is set for the weekend of April 29-30 at Hunter Mountain.

To this point, 77 New York breweries already have registered for this anniversary event, and more are expected. That lends support to the organizers' claims that the event not only is the largest craft beer festival in New York, it is the largest single-state craft beer event in the nation.

Food also is a featured component of the event. In addition to the usual array of hand-passed hors d'oeuvres, soups and sandwiches, the food theme for this year's event is "hot dog creations from ball parks across the country."

Four cups and medals in 12 different categories are on the line for the brewers. Competition is divided into Hudson Valley breweries and breweries from all over the state.

The cups winners in 2016:
F.X. Matt Memorial Cup (state's best craft brewer) -- Big Ditch Brewing Company of Buffalo
Matthew Vassar Brewers Cup (best Hudson Valley craft brewery) -- Crossroads Brewing Company of nearby Athens, Greene County
Governors' Brewers' Cup (best craft beer in state) -- Union Station Belgian Quad from C.H. Evans Brewing/Albany Pump Station
John  Calen Memorial Award (best brown ale in state) -- Hometown Brown Ale from Steuben Brewing Company if Hammondsport
Tickets, with a variety of prices depending on the packages purchased, are available online. Hunter Mountain is located in the Village of Hunter in Greene County. From the Greater Capital Region, take the Thruway south to Exit 21 (Catskill), turn left after exit and go about two miles to Route 9W, take 9W south to Route 23A, then 23A west to the venue. Click here for directions from other starting points.

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Interesting lineup for Greene County's first restaurant week

Most cities and areas have a restaurant promotional event of some sort, and now the Northern Catskills will, too. Interestingly, a large number of participants brew their own craft beers.

The inaugural "Greene County Restaurant Week" has been scheduled for Friday, March 24, through Sunday, April 2, with participating restaurants offering fixed three-course menus for $20.17. Each will offer an appetizer/entree/dessert meal for the special price, plus tax and tip.

At this point, 19 restaurants have signed up, including venues in Windham, Catskill, Athens, West Coxsackie, Hensonville, Leeds, and Hunter. More restaurants may be added as the date draws closer. Meanwhile, here is the verified list from the Greene County Chamber of Commerce:
  • The Stewart House
  • Gracie's Luncheonette
  • Hunter Mountain Brewery Kitchen & Craft Beer
  • Rip Van Winkle Brewing Company
  • Bistro Brie & Bordeaux
  • La Conca D'Oro
  • Chalet Fondue
  • Creekside Restaurant & Bar
  • Bistro 27
  • Paul's Pizza & Italian Restaurant
  • Pomodoro's Italian Eatery
  • Chicken Run Family Restaurant & Steak House
  • Hammo's Brewpub & Lodge
  • Hagar's Harbor Bar & Restaurant
  • Vesuvio Restaurant
  • Cave Mountain Brewing Company
  • The New York Restaurant
  • Crossroads Brewing Company
  • Rive Gauche Bistro

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Cuomo: Reforms saved alcohol industry $15M in five years

Cuomo at one of his beverage summits
Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has been mentioning advances in the state's alcoholic beverage industry in bits and pieces over a series of speeches and announcements in recent weeks (here, here and here, for example). On Wednesday, they put it all together.

An announcement from Cuomo's administration said New York's craft beer, wine, cider and liquor manufactures have saved nearly $15 million since a series of regulatory reforms and incentives were put in place since 2012 in an effort to boost the industry.

Cuomo said the savings during a five-year period followed the state's decision to expand a production tax credit and cut a labeling fee. Cuomo has championed craft alcohol makers as an example of a local, sustainable industry that can spur tourism and agriculture. He says he wants the state to continue to find ways to support local breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries as the thirst for locally made alcoholic beverages continues to grow.

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State's craft brewers unveil new app for the consuming public

The craft beverage industry in New York State not only is growing in the number of businesses involved, it also is growing in the sophistication of getting its message out.

On Saturday, I reported on the unveiling of a new website by the New York State Distillers Guide. Today, the topic is a new iOS/Adroid app from the New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA) that can be downloaded from the iTunes Store.

The state currently is home to 326 licensed craft breweries, the most since Prohibition, that in total represent a $4 billion impact that is the fourth highest of any state. The app has what the NYSBA refers to as "a hyperlocalized focus." Its key feature is an incentives-based "passport" program encouraging consumers to discover and visit local breweries across the state. Among the features:
• Users can acess discounts at breweries, T-shirts, regional posters featuring original artwork by local designers, plaques and so on. The Passport is valid for a year from the time of a user's first passport stamp.

• A map of every brewery in the state.

• A beer and brewery rating system.

• Updated information on breweries' beers on tap, events and hours.

• The ability to organize one's own brewery tours.

• A label-scanning tool for beer style suggestions.

• Photo booth and social media integration.

• Craft beer educational tools and style guide.
"As the number of breweries in New York State continues to grow, we wanted to create an exciting app with a passport program to reward users based on the number of breweries they visit throughout the state,” said NYSBA Executive Director Paul Leone. “It was also essential to make it easy for users to locate every brewery, either through a statewide map, regional maps, or simply by locating the breweries ‘nearby’, no matter where they are in the state.”

The NYSBA was cofounded in 2003 as a promotional and legislative proponent for New York's breweries, microbreweries, brewpubs and brewing-affiliated businesses.
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Arts Center unveils adult-beverage events series

An arts facility may not be the first place you think of when it comes to learning about adult beverages, but if that facility is The Arts Center of the Capital Region, it's true.

The Troy venue has just released a lineup of such events. Reservations may be made online for each.
Beer 101: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21 --  Craig Gravina, author of the book "Upper Hudson Valley Beer," will guide participants through the many styles of beer available locally from Brown's Brewing and others. And, they can make their own pretzels to go along with the samples. Reservations are $25 per person.

Cake Decorating & Cake Batter Martinis: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 -- Learn basic cake decorating skills during a Food Network-style class while sipping cake batter martinis, giving participants the opportunity to have their cake and eat it and drink it, too. Reservations are $35 per person.

Collage & Tom Collins: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 20 -- The mood will echo the TV series "Mad Men" with participants flipping through early-1960s issues of Life and Look magazines. Caroline Corrigan and Ira Marks of Upstate Collage Night will guide the creation of throwback advertising while the class sips Tom Collins cocktails. Reservations are $35 per person.
The Arts Center of the Capital Region is located in downtown Troy at 265 River Street on Monument Square. Phone: (518) 273-0552.
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VT wings-and-home brews/wines making bold promises

Beer and wings are an American pairing tradition, which bodes well for the Southern Vermont Wings and Winter Home Brew Festival scheduled for next month.

The event will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 18, at the Masonic Temple, 504 Main Street, Bennington, VT.

A lineup of local restaurants will offer their wings for judging, and home brewers and winemakers from the region will showcase their products. Prospective producers can get registration details online.

How many will attendees get to sample? According to event organizers, "We will literally have nearly 100 styles of beer, cider and wine to sample."

Reservations, which are limited, are $30 each and now are available online.
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Argyle Brewing increasing capacity, adding new taproom

New equipment arrives at Argyle Brewing Co. (photo provided)
Argyle Brewing Company is only three years old, but it already is in expansion mode. Not only have owners Chris Castrio, Rich Thomas, and Matt Stewart this week installed a larger brewing system in the Washington County facility, they are working on opening a new taproom in the former Cambridge railroad station in the spring. The current taproom at the brewery has remained open during the upgrade.

The new brewing system, made locally by the Fronhoffer Tool Company, is expected to reduce Argyle's brewing time from 24 hours to six, and will double the available fermenters. The operation has been of limited capacity because of its 3.5-barrel tank. The new one is 15 barrels.

Argyle Brewing, which operates under a state farm brewery license, is located at 1 Main Street in Greenwich. Phone: (518) 692-2585.

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Craft beverage trail planning 'Drink Schenectady' event

The Capital Craft Beverage Trail will be leading to Schenectady next month, when "Drink Schenectady" shows off  a wide range of local craft beverage makers' products.

The event will run from 2 to 6 p.m. (VIP admission at 2) at the Schenectady Armory, 125 Washington Avenue. Live music, food vendors and games are included.

Tickets are available now online. General admission covers four hours of tasting plus a souvenir glass. VIP admission includes an extra hour of tasting. All proceeds for the event go to benefit the Capital Craft Beverage Trail Association.

Scheduled producers:
  • Albany Distilling Company
  • Nine Pin Cider 
  • C.H. Evans Brewing 
  • Albany Pump Station 
  • Druthers Brewing Company 
  • Helderberg Brewery 
  • Helderberg Mountain Brewing Company 
  • Indian Ladder Farmstead Cidery and Brewery 
  • The Beer Diviner 
  • Wolf Hollow Brewing Company 
  • Brown's Brewing Company 
  • S&S Farm Brewery 
  • Altamont Vineyard and Winery 
  • Common Roots Brewing Company 
  • Crossroads Brewing Company 
  • Chatham Brewing 
  • Upstate Distilling Company 

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Wolff's Biergarten gets a surprise visitor at Troy location

Apparently a motorist was confused upon hearing a new drive-in restaurant had opened "just over the bridge" in Troy.

The problem is that the new restaurant is a Sonic Drive-In, and the location is in a shopping complex just east of the Collar City Bridge. What we see here is a Wolff's Biergarten, just east of the Green Island Bridge about six long blocks from Sonic. And, it does not offer drive-in service.

The impromptu "visit" occurred around 3:30 on Saturday afternoon. Luckily, no one was injured, despite how scary these photos by owner Matt Baumgartner appear.

Baumgartner at least had an upbeat take on the accident, commenting on Facebook, "Apparently our patio is so beautiful that people get distracted and drive right into it!"

Other, undamaged Wolff's locations are in Albany, Schenectady, and Syracuse.
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NY'S craft beverage branch shops top the 100 mark

The Beer Diviner Tap Room & Market in Troy
The growth in the number of wineries, distilleries, breweries and cideries in New York State in recent years has been well documented. But, news of one niche in the industry has often gone unnoticed. Governor Andrew Cuomo took care of that today.

Speaking in New York City, the governor announced that the number of craft beverage manufacturers operating off-site branch stores has increased to 105 locations in 35 counties statewide, 32 of them in just the past year.

“The demand for New York’s world class beer, wine, cider and spirits continues to grow, and by supporting the expansion of craft beverage businesses, we are able to connect locally grown products to more customers than ever before,” Cuomo said. “These off-site stores are allowing these small businesses to enter new markets, create new jobs, and increase revenues to support the growth of local communities across the state.”

Under Cuomo, the state has overhauled its Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, including provisions to expand branch store privileges to all farm-based beverage manufacturers and permit craft beverage businesses to open up to five additional retail locations outside their manufacturing facility with no additional licensing fees.

The law now allows farm-based beverage producers to sell any farm-produced wine, beer, cider and spirits by the bottle and by the glass, host tastings, open restaurants, operate gift shops, and manufacture and warehouse their products at these branch locations.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The agricultural industry has seen an incredible boost from our state’s craft beverage producers who are proudly sourcing their ingredients from New York farms and meeting their customers’ demands for a unique and diverse selection of beverage products that are locally made. Thanks to the Governor’s continued commitment to this sector, we’re clearly seeing more businesses open and expand, which is helping to grow our local economies and spotlight New York agriculture.”

New York now has more than 600 farm wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries, an increase of more than 65% since 2010.

A chart showing branch shops statewide is available online. The 10 branches in the Greater Capital Region and their locations include:
  • Hudson Brewing, Hudson
  • Old Klaverack Brewery, Philmont, Greene County
  • Hudson Chatham Winery, Tannersville, Greene County 
  • Albany Distilling Company, Troy
  • The Beer Diviner, Troy
  • Upstate Distilling, Saratoga Springs 
  • Swedish Hill Winery, Saratoga Springs
  • Capoccia Vineyards & Winery, Schenectady
  • Lake George Distilling Company, Lake George
  • High Peaks Distilling Company, Lake George

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Albany beer shop rebranding, adding Saratoga bar

New Pint Sized location with logo superimposed
Beer lovers in the Capital Region may not be familiar with the name Pint Sized, but that is about to change.

August Rosa today announced he is rebranding Brew, his original 209 Lark Street, Albany, business  with that name even as he prepares to open a second location of Pint Sized, a small craft beer bar and bottle shop, at 489 Broadway in Saratoga Springs.

Rosa is taking advantage of the current Saratoga Craft Beer Week to announced his new venue, targeted for an early spring opening, and he selected the new name to effectively describe the size of the bar.

"Pint Sized is probably going to be the smallest bar in the area presenting guests with a unique and cozy craft beer experience. It’s got to be one of, if not THE, smallest bars in the Capital Region," Rosa says.

It will have 12 beers on tap, available by the glass or growler. There also will be a wide selection of brews to purchase for off-premise consumption. Product will be sold broken up as single units, packaged, or as mix-six packs with a $3 discount. There also will be a small wine list and a rotating menu of light fare foods.

“It’s going to be tight,” Rosa said, “but patrons will experience something truly unique here. The small nature of the space lends itself to creativity. An additional benefit is a constantly rotating fresh inventory and a requirement to make every square foot count. There is no room for sub-par product.”

Rosa also said the original Albany location will add a bar for on-site consumption "down the road."
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Did anyone attend the 'Gathering of the Cideries'?

Here's a look at the crowd visiting the Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany on Saturday for the 3rd annual 'Gathering of the Cideries" celebrating the burgeoning New York State cider scene. (Nine Pin photo)

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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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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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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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