Twenty miles outside of Cooperstown, in a hamlet called Garrattsville, there's a brewery housed in an old dairy barn. It doesn't even really look open when you drive up to it.
But despite its humble dwellings, Butternuts Beer and Ale is sending out beer to fourteen states around the country.
Owner and brewmaster Chuck Williamson opened the brewery in 2005 to produce low-alcohol-content, drinkable craft beer -- all with a certain style. As the website explains:
It's a place where common men and women brew approachable beers for other common men and women. Translation? No pretense. No snotty attitudes or haughty prices. Here the ingredients are simple and natural. The brewer's art is practiced with creativity and reverence to the old code. The beers are eminently drinkable.
And farting is funny.
Butternuts' signature beer is its Porkslap Pale Ale, an American pale ale with a hint of ginger. They also offer Moo Thunder Stout, made with lactose that gives it body, but not too much sweetness; Snapperhead IPA, that starts sweet and ends hoppy; and Heinnieweisse, a German-style wheat beer brewed "approximately 5000 miles closer to your mouth than Germany."
We also found out what plans Butternuts has brewing (get it?). They're working on an Imperial line of beers, starting with their Imperial Russian -- a nice, dark beer with a full flavor that doesn't border on being "syrupy."
As long as someone's at the brewery, there's a good chance they'll be willing to do a tasting for you. Sure, it's cold outside and they only have a little space heater to warm the tasting room, but you can watch from the french doors as the beer is sent down the line in the next room over. A tour, however, will have to wait for the weekend (offered from noon to 5 pm).
For $2 you can try samples of their whole line of brews as well as whatever specialties they have on tap. We sampled their Dobblebock, Russian Imperial and Chocolate Stout -- all flavorful and easy to drink.
Butternuts is open year-round and the summer is usually when they're packed. But without the crowds of summer visitors, you have the time to talk with them about beer, distribution, New York brewery legislation, New York hops, great bars around the state -- and why beer from a can is better than from a bottle. Butternuts packages its beers almost exclusively in cans. Hence their slogan: "Nice Cans."
So why craft beer in a can? As our tasting administrator explained: cans are more portable than bottles. And, more importantly, the can protects the beer from light and oxygen, which can affect flavor. Also, while beer bottles aren't exactly snooty, there's something democratic about popping that tab on a can.
After over an hour of talking about all things beer, we bought a 6-pack of the Porkslap (they also offer growlers), and headed out with our unpretentious beer made by approachable people.
Butternuts Beer and Ale
4021 New York 51
Garrattsville, NY 13342
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