Items tagged with 'beer'
Albany has its share of emerging breweries and distilleries, along with pubs serving craft beers, spirits, and ciders. But sometimes you just need a change of scenery.
So I recently took a trip up to Vermont for a day-long brewery tour in the Burlington area...
The New York State Brewers Association has lined up the Craft New York Beer Fest at The Desmond in Colonie March 22 from 5-8 pm. Tickets are on sale now -- they're $40 ahead / $50 at the door / $15 designated drivers. The event is 21 and over.
The Craft New York Beer Fest will bring together 30+ New York Breweries from across the state featuring up to 60+ hard to find and award winning beers. To make this very special event more exclusive, the NYSBA has partnered with Taste NY to bring together a network of locally owned businesses to supply food sampling and pairing to go along with each brewery attending.
It seems likes there's a beer festival every month now. The thing that caught our eye about this one is that it's focused on New York State craft breweries and maybe offers the opportunity to check out some breweries that might worth a visit or side trip sometime.
The new Madison Pour House opened this week after a long renovation of its space in the commercial strip where Madison Ave and Western Ave converge in uptown Albany. The craft beer bar is offering a rotating selection of 40 beers on tap, along with two casks and a selection of 60 bottles it's aiming to grow to 100, and a handful of pub snacks.
As many of you know, the Pour House is in the spot formerly occupied by the Albany location of Mahar's, a longtime favorite of beer enthusiasts, known for some of its idiosyncratic ways. When word spread early last year that the building had been sold to a group already operating three other restaurants on the block, and that Mahar's would be closing, it ruffled a few feathers. Mahar's had some passionate fans.
So we stopped into the Madison Pour House this week to get a look at the rebuilt space, and talk for a few minutes with one of the owners about their plans for the new place, and winning over fans of the former spot.
Another interesting potential development in North Albany's warehouse district: Druthers Brewing Company -- which already has a brew pub in downtown Saratoga Springs -- has been granted a zoning variance in order to open a production facility and tasting room/restaurant in a building at the corner of Broadway and Bridge Street. (A tip of the hat to Steve Barnes for picking this development out of the BZA agenda.)
Druthers partner and brewmaster George de Piro posted about the plan at the TU's Beer Nut blog:
Our current location on Broadway in Saratoga Springs has been doing pretty well and we really want to get our beer to a wider audience. The 10 BBL (barrel) brewing system there can barely handle demand, so to sell more beer we need to build another brewery. I live in Albany and want to do more to help revitalize our downtown (I am proud of the work I did helping the Pump Station to succeed and all that did for Albany). I also miss brewing with Albany water. It's really awesome! Thus, the decision was made to open Druthers II in New York's capital.
De Piro's post includes a projected start date for brewing of June 2014, "if everything goes perfectly."
The building currently serves as space for a plumbing supply company, and its zoning doesn't allow for restaurant use, thus the need for a variance. (The BZA application is after the jump.) It includes a project narrative and pics. From the narrative:
The brewing area of the Building will be equipped with a 30BBL brewing system that is capable of producing an estimated 15,000 kegs annual, a canning line capable of canning 30 beers per minute, 1,500 square feet of cooler space, and commercial keg washing/filling equipment. The tasting area will feature a bar, restaurant style seating, and offer wood-fired pizza. It is expected that the hours of operation for the brewery/tasting room would be daily from 12pm to 10:00pm.
The statement also lists the total cost of the project as $2.2 million.
The warehouse district along Broadway is shaping up to be an interesting area for the city.
The craft beer/spirits industry is booming, and there's a been a lot of attention over the last few years in New York State on "farm" breweries, distilleries, wineries, and (most recently) cideries. The state has passed legislation that makes it easier/cheaper for these small scale operations -- if they use a specified amount of agricultural products from New York. The goal is to help foster an end-to-end industry in the state: crops are grown here, products are made here, and they're sold here.
But that means getting a lot of different people -- farmers, brewers, economic development orgs -- moving in the same direction. Toward that goal, the Carey Center for Global Good in Rensselaerville is starting a "farm brewery incubator." Blurbage:
For the past year, the Carey Institute has been working to start a model farmstead brewery in Rensselaerville. The aim of the project is to create a new economic development and social networking hub, bringing farmers, brewers and the Capital Region community together.
The Carey Institute has partnered with CSArch, an Albany architecture firm, to reconstruct a 1760's New World Dutch barn donated by Randolph J. Collins from the town of Guilderland. This icon of local history will be erected on our campus and adapted to house New York State's first farm-to-glass classroom and farm brewery incubator. Here, we will provide start-up brewing space and educational opportunities to emerging farm brewery enterprises, cultivating economic opportunities for farmers and brewers in New York State's budding farm-to-glass industry.
The Carey Center has a kickoff fundraising event for the project lined up for November 16, from 5-6:30 pm.
A quick update on the Albany Ale Project: The first cask of resurrected beer will be tapped at an event at the Albany Institute of History and Art November 2. Tickets are on sale now -- they're $15, and must be purchased in advance.
The Albany Ale Project is an effort by beer writers Craig Gravina and Alan McLeod to explore and highlight the history of beer brewing in Albany. It turns out the the city has a rich tradition -- "Albany Ale" was once known far and wide -- but it's faded from memory since the early part of the 20th century.
One of the ways the Albany Ale Project is attempting to bring it back: re-creating old beers. They've teamed up with CH Evans Brewing at the Albany Pump Station to brew resurrected version of beers from Albany's history. The beer that will be released at the Albany Institute event is the first in the series -- it was made from a 1901 recipe for Amsdell's Albany XX Ale. It will probably be the first "Albany Ale" produced in a century.
The event at the Albany Institute starts at 5 pm on November 2. It includes both food and beer. And it's capped at 150 people.
Earlier on AOA: Resurrecting a beer, and part of Albany's history
It turns out that resurrecting a beer that hasn't been brewed in a century is a sticky business.
Tuesday afternoon, Ryan Demler -- the brewer for C.H. Evans Brewing in Albany -- was perched atop brewing equipment trying to scrape a caramel-like form of sugar into a tank. It wasn't going well. "It's like alien goo."
The sugar -- the technical term for it is "invert sugar" -- is part of a 1901 recipe for one of the last versions of the the once-famous Albany Ale, which at one point was known around the world. Its re-creation is part of the Albany Ale Project, which is aimed at not just bringing some old beers back from the dead -- but also collecting and highlighting a key part of the city's history.
Growing since 2010, this international research endeavor has been dubbed the Albany Ale Project, and is focused on bringing the history and stories of an industry that helped to build the capital city of New York to light. Although Albany Ale no longer exists, the research being done by the Albany Ale Project is increasing interest in the oft-forgotten history of Albany's brewing past - and the Ale that accompanied it.
The project's website includes material on the long history of brewing in Albany.
But get this -- part of the project is to
The first beer to be re-created is a 1901 recipe for Albany XX Ale, originally made by the Amsdell Brewing and Malting Company--the last brewery to make something called "Albany Ale". The basis for this recreation is from an Amsdell brew log held in the collections of the Albany Institute of History & Art.
Here's the recreated beer's description: "Amber hued, C.H. Evans' version of Amdell's 1901 Albany XX Ale, is a slightly sweet XX ale brewed with 100% New York grown 6-row pale and black malt, and corn grits. Brewery-made dark invert and corn sugar are also used, bringing the 1901's ABV to 5.3%; and New York grown heritage hops give it a mildly hoppy finish, at 23 IBUs."
We hear from Gravina that they're aiming for an early November release for the recreated beer (with more details closer to the release date).
image from the Albany Institute of History and Art's collection, via the Albany Ale Project
The pub is currently attached to Cafe 217 on Delaware Ave near Lark, an arrangement that apparently has come to an end. But it sounds like owner Jason Bowers is looking for a new space. From an email he sent to "pub club" members earlier this week:
Temporarily is the word to focus on. As some of you know I have been looking into adding a second location for some time now. This is still my intention. My goal is still the same but there are now some added steps and new ideas to take into consideration with this new development. I do ask for your patience and understanding in the coming time. I will do my best to keep you informed of all things EPC, and look forward to serving you again soon.
In the meantime, people are going to miss the Excelsior. As Colleen, a self-described regular, said to us in an email today: "Seriously, the guy loved his bar and his customers. He chose his taps as carefully as a museum curated builds a collection. He traversed the state to pull the beers no one would have thought to try."
Hopefully some new situation will be worked out. The concept behind the pub was a good one, and it highlighted and supported the growing beer and spirits scene in the state.
(Thanks, Lauren and Colleen)
Earlier on AOA: The Excelsior Pub: exclusively New York
Speaking of the beer scene: Greg Back is trying to start up a Capital Region brewery trail
Over at Drink Drank, beer historian Craig Gravina lists "the seven beers that -- in my humble opinion -- shaped the New York beer scene." Here's a clip from one of his selections:
1. Schaefer Beer - Schaefer is not brewed in New York--but it was for 139 years, so let's just overlook that first bit. What can you say about Schaefer? It's a classic. It's been made since 1842. It survived prohibition, set the standard for the Bushwick Pilsner, became the official beer of the Brooklyn Dodgers, out-sold Budweiser in the late 1950s, and during the 1960s it sponsored a series of concerts in Central Park, featuring a few acts you may have heard of--The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and the Beach Boys. Stroh's bought it in '81, and Pabst has steered the ship since '99. Oh, and that's right Schaefer was also an Albany hometown brew until the 1970s. It's brewery in Brooklyn exceeded capacity and they bought Beverwyck Brewery in 1950.
Gravina will be at the University Club in Albany this evening (Tuesday) for a talk titled "Hops and History: Albany's Brewing Tradition." There will also be a tasting of the "Magnificent Seven" that he lists in that post linked above. The event is from 5:30-7:30 pm.
The talk and tasting is $20. Call 518-463-1151 or online to register.
image: "Beverwyck Brewing Company Serving Tray" from the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art
The annual Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival returns to The Joe this weekend, and we've got a pair of "Grand Slam" passes to give away. The passes include: admission, souvenir sampling glass, 10 tasting tickets, a t-shirt, admission to the VIP area with a catered buffet, and a ticket to a future Tri-City ValleyCats baseball game.
To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:
Baseball and beer are a classic summer pairing. What's your favorite summer pairing?
The answer could be anything, but you'll earn 100% non-redeemable and completely imagined gold stars for local answers. We'll draw one winner at random.
The Capital Region Craft Brewer's Festival is this Saturday, July 27 from 2:30-6:30 pm. It brings together more than 25 brewers from the Capital Region and beyond, including Brown's, Crossroads Brewing, The Beer Diviner, Brooklyn Brewing, Shmaltz Brewing Company, and Long Trail Brewing. There will also be food, music, and brewing demonstrations.
Tickets for the festival start at $25 ($32 at the gate) and include 10 tasting tickets, a sampling glass, and a ValleyCats ticket. (The "Grand Slam" passes are $40 ahead, $47 at gate.) Proceeds from the event benefit the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, which helps maintains youth baseball fields around the area.
Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 to be entered in the drawing. You must be 21 to enter. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by midnight Tuesday and must respond by noon on Wednesday, July 24.
Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!
The City Beer Hall has a barrel-aged beer event lined up for this Saturday. We have a pair of tickets and we're giving them away.
To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:
What your favorite thing to drink when it's hot?
The answer could be anything, but non-redeemable bonus points for specific and/or local answers. We'll draw one winner at random.
The Barrel-aged Beer Festival is this Saturday, July 20 at the City Beer Hall starting at 1 pm. Here's a list of the some the beers that will be featured. Tickets are available online ahead -- they're $40, and include 12 beer samples and a food ticket.
Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 pm on Thursday, July 18, 2013 to be entered in the drawing. You must be 21 to enter, as this is a 21-and-over event. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by midnight Thursday and must respond by noon on Friday, July 19.
CBH advertises on AOA.
Interesting: Over at DrinkDrank, Craig distills the centuries-long history of beer brewing in Albany to a quick-read 1,500 words. A clip:
[John] Taylor -- initially partnered with his brother-in-law -- opened his first brewery in the early 1820s. A savvy businessman, Taylor saw the opportunity to exploit New York's new water highway [the Erie Canal]. He could import grain and hops from the western part of the state and use the same waterway to export beer west and south down the Hudson. By the 1850s Taylor had built a new brewery in Albany--the largest in the country and was producing a flagship double strength of 'XX' ale, that he dubbed "Imperial Albany XX Ale". Albany's access to the Hudson River and position at the terminus of the Erie Canal afforded it a monopoly on the distribution on beer. Albany Ale could be exported west on the Canal to Buffalo and be in Chicago in ten days later. From there it could be in New Orleans within a week or California shortly there after. It could also be sent south down the Hudson to the port of New York and be anywhere in the world within a matter of weeks.
There's lot packed into this history -- the Dutch, the British army, hops, the Erie Canal, the emergence of lager, Prohibition, craft brewing. It's worth a read if you're interested in local history or beer (or, you know, both).
Elsewhere: Akum recalled when Albany Ale ruled the nation.
image: "Beverwyck Brewing Company Serving Tray" from the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art
Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown has announced the next of its Game of Thrones-themed beers: Take the Black Stout.
According to Zap2It, "Take the Black Stout was brewed with star anise and licorice root. It is slated to appear in stores and bars nationwide in Fall 2013." It also reports that Ommegang will be be doubling the production run of Take the Black because of the success of its first Thrones beer, Iron Throne Blonde. (Apparently Zap2It had an "exclusive" on this.)
Hop Chef Albany
Also Ommegang-related: The brewery is bringing its multi-city "Hop Chef" series back to Albany on July 12. Blurbage:
An outstanding line-up of Capitol Region chefs will each create one dish showcasing their imaginative beer and food pairing skills. The dishes, all paired with Ommegang ales, will be served to a panel of judges, and to all attendees, to taste and score.
The event is at the Hilton Albany (which was the Hotel Albany, which was the Crowne Plaza). Tickets are $55. A portion of the proceeds will benefit SALT.
photo: Brewery Ommegang
Have you ever tried a beer and thought to yourself: "This is the best beer around."
The winner: the Peekskill Brewery in Peekskill, for its Higher Standard IPA.
So I obviously had to try the best beer in the state... you know, for journalism.
Today's map: The breweries, wineries, and distilleries of New York State.
We created this map based on data recently posted by the state. It includes big breweries and distillers, but also microbreweries, farm wineries, and cider producers. Check it out in large format -- where there's also a legend for the map.
To some extent, this is just sort of map gawkage. But it does highlight certain patterns...
Quick follow up on the Beer Diviner, the "nano-brewery" in Rensselaer County: Founder Jonathan Post has started a Kickstarter campaign to expand beyond his "out in the sticks" property to open a new tasting room and retail outlet in Stephentown. Blurbage:
In order to get the outlet up and running, increase beer production and hire someone, the outlet will need start-up money for inventory, furniture and renovation. We want to make this a comfortable, community oriented space, where you can taste New York State beer, wine and liquor, try different foods, bring your laptop and get free wifi, hang out at tables inside and outside, play ping pong, foosball and darts. We plan on decorating with pictures and descriptions about the history of beer and how The Beer Diviner got its start in an indigenous village in West Africa.
Post has set a $12,000 goal -- the funding deadline is June 27.
Award: The Beer Diviner's Got Your Back Stout took 3rd place in the "Best Individual Craft Beers in the Hudson Valley" category at the recent TAP NY event. (Beers from Olde Saratoga took the top two spots.)
Earlier on AOA: Casey visited the Beer Diviner brewery in April
For a decade, Jonathan Post -- who has a Ph.D. in English -- worked at colleges and universities around the area. But when a program he was connected to at UAlbany ended, he decided, "Fine, if I can't be a doctor of English, I'll be a doctor of beer."
So last April, he started The Beer Diviner. He now brews from his nano-brewery in Cherry Plain -- about an hour east of Albany in Renssealer County, out past Averill Park.
But Post's journey as a brewer took an important step a bit farther away than that: in a small village in Burkina Faso.
And how does a brewery celebrate the release of such a beer? With a dinner this past Friday at its Cooperstown cafe pairing wild game dishes with beer, fur-clad diners, and toasts to the King of the North.
There's no question that beer lovers of the Capital Region are blessed these days. It's easy to find good beer at a number of bars in the area, there are a handful of beer stores with great selections, and you can even fill a growler at some area supermarkets now.
"[The beer scene] is huge now," says Mike Smith of Hoosick Street Beverage Center in Troy. "You see it here through the RPI kids. On Friday nights, we used to sells kegs of Keystone. Now they're all buying the good stuff."
That doesn't mean we have access to all the good beer, though. Craft brewing is, by definition, done on a small scale. And because of limited supply and distribution, there are some beers that are either hard to find here -- or just not available.
So I stopped by Hoosick recently to talk with Mike Smith about some of the "holy grails" of beer they'd like to be able to get, but can't -- and some good, locally-available substitutes.
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.
Chef Dimitrios Menagias of City Beer Hall in Albany will be hosting a decadent night of beer and food pairing, Friday, March 15th. This will be the first time the Ommegang Iron Throne ale will be released. To celebrate the release, guests will be transported to a culinary King's Landing through a serious of masterfully paired dishes fit for any Lannister, Stark or Tully.
Tickets for the dinner include a decadent 5-course dinner with matching beers to pair and the first bottles of the limited edition Game of Thrones Iron Throne ale to be released from the brewery. To compliment the Iron Throne ale, guests will also receive a commemorative Game of Thrones glass.
Tickets are $100, and are available ahead by calling (607) 286-4090 (Ommegang says it's expecting the event to sell out). The dinner starts with a beer tasting at 7 pm, and seating at 7:30 pm. "This is a strictly 21+ event."
Earlier on AOA: Ommegang making a Game of Thrones beer
image: Brewery Ommegang
The Ravens Head Brewing Company's selection of the Cohoes Armory for its start-up brewery/restaurant is a done deal, Ravens Head co-owner Brennon Cleary says. The company's offer on the building was accepted Monday, and the closing is expected March 15.
The news isn't a surprise. Ravens Head's application for a zoning variance for St. Joe's had prompted strong concerns from some residents of the Ten Broeck Triangle neighborhood. And co-owner Brennon Cleary had told AOA earlier this month that the group behind the brewery project regarded the former church as "already dead", in part because the cost of acquiring parking for the site was pushing the total price tag of the already-$3 million project too high. The Cohoes Armory was on their list of new target properties.
Cleary told the Biz Review that they're still working out details for the armory, but they're "very confident" about the property.
The Cohoes Armory is currently listed for $239,000 by Trinity Realty Group, and includes 22,000 square feet with "[an] apartment, offices, storage/production areas, storage loft, loading dock, and room for trailer access." A Craigslist item for property mentions "ample parking." The building appears to be in an area zoned for mixed-use that allows for restaurants and bars (p. 58). (St. Joseph's is in an area zoned for residential, thus the need for a zoning variance -- on which the Albany BZA has not ruled.) Update: Cohoes' director of community and economic development tells the TU the project fits with its plan for the neighborhood and it can fit under existing zoning.
Earlier and elsewhere:
+ Ravens Head Brewing considering alternatives to St. Joseph's
+ TU: Church pub called a foul brew
+ TU: Council opposes church pub plan
+ Analysis from local brewer George de Piro
+ Is St. Joseph's Church a brewery in its next life?
Ravens Head Brewing has yet to hear whether the Albany BZA will approve a required variance for its proposed brewery/restaurant at St. Joseph's, but Ravens Head co-owner Brennon Cleary says they're preparing to move on.
Cleary says in his mind, and in the minds of his investors, the project at St. Joe's is "already dead," but they're going to ride out the process.
"I'm not willing to say I'm done," says Cleary, "but I'm not very optimistic."
And that outlook has Cleary and his partners looking at other options.
It's off-season in Lake George. That means no kayaks, no swimming, no souvenir shopping, and no tourists. As you drive down Canada Street, most of the buildings are dark with signs in the window reading "Closed for the Season!"
But there is still beer.
Mahar's -- a longtime favorite of beer enthusiasts in Albany -- is getting bumped from its uptown Albany location. BM&T Managment -- which owns Cafe Madison, The Point, and Junior's all in that same strip -- has bought the building and is planning its own bar there: The Madison Pour House. The sale of the building closed last Friday, as the Times Union reported this week.
Mahar's owner Jim Mahar tells us via email that they were "blindsided" by the sale of the building. That TU article linked above details some of the back-and-forth over the real estate deal.
There appears to have been a significant communication breakdown because Mahar says he and his wife were working under the impression they were headed for a new lease with the building's former owner, along with improvements. But BM&T sent a letter last fall -- dated September 20, 2012 -- to the city of Albany indicating its intent to file for a liquor license for the Mahar's location (letter is post jump). That license is now pending.
"Obviously we are scrambling to see about another location and [see] what the future holds," Mahar tells us.
Iron Throne Blonde Ale is the inaugural beer in the series. The result of a creative collaboration between Brewmaster Phil Leinhart and HBO, the new Iron Throne Blonde Ale will launch nationwide timed to the show's third season debut this spring on March 31.
The collaboration between Ommegang and HBO is focused on developing unique beers that directly tie into themes, characters and nuances of the medieval-like fantasy realm of Westeros and the surrounding kingdoms, where the competition to sit on the Iron Throne is fierce and deadly.
Ommegang says Iron Throne Blonde Ale will be available on draft and in bottles. Apparently the partnership includes the potential for three other beers, each to be released with a new season of the show. [NYT]
We can't decide if this is fun and kind of goofy, or sounds like the sort of drink Fonzi might enjoy after waterskiing. It might be both.
Update: There's an image of the bottle post jump.
Jason Bowers spent years tending bar at Capital District pubs known for their beer selections -- places like The Lionheart Pub and The Van Dyck. And the longer he tended bar, the more he noticed something about his customers' ordering habits: New York brews like Brooklyn Brown were being ordered as often as big-name imports like England's Newcastle Brown.
It's pretty much what it sounds like -- a counter in the prepared foods section for getting growlers filled with craft beer. And it's the Chopper's first test of the concept.
So how does it work?
It's everybody's favorite season!
No, not fall -- pumpkin season.
It seems that as soon as the air gets a chill, we begin to see pumpkin everything -- breads, pies, soups, ice creams, beer. You can't toss a gourd without hitting something made with pumpkin. So, what to try first?
Here are some favorites to maximize your pumpkin enjoyment this fall.
Ommegang has released its first seasonal fall (er, "harvest season") beer: Scythe and Sickle. And apparently it's pretty good.
From a review by Bret Setka at The L Magazine:
It's a nice beer to look at with its hazy copper tone. The amber ale has a malty aroma and a hint of toasty hard candy sweetness like you find in Oktoberfest beer--just the right amount of Werther's Original. But where Oktoberfests stop, Sycthe and Sickle keeps going. Brewed from barley, oats, wheat and rye--all traditionally grown in Upstate New York--it has an added spicy complexity and a bit of creamy smoothness from the wheat. Hops are noticeable but reserved and contribute to the beer's perfect balance.
Has anyone spotted this in the wild in the Capital Region -- or, even better, tried it?
photo: Brewery Ommegang
Beer enthusiasts showed up Brown's in Troy last week for the release of the brewery's annual fall Harvest IPA brew. What's so special about this brew? Well, for one thing, the hops used in the beer were grown right here in New York.
Brown's is part of a growing movement to restore New York to what it once was -- one of the country's leading hop producers.
Ken Landin never meant to put his brewery in Athens.
The owner of Crossroads Brewing Company looked at about 100 other locations before he ever thought of what now seems obvious -- the town where he'd been vacationing for over 20 years.
The Greene County brewery is now producing some high quality brews, and it's creating an interest in Athens as a destination for beer-loving tourists.
Is it a little out of the way? Sure. But for beer lovers, it's worth the trip.
Road trips are pretty high on the list of fun things to do with a fall day in the Capital Region. A scenic drive on an autumn weekend can take you to mountains, lakes, wineries, cities, and small towns in time to explore, enjoy and be home in time to sleep in your own bed.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts is one of those places.
Lesson number one: Barrington and Great Barrington are not the same place. This may seem as obvious to you as it did to me, but for some reason every time I told someone from the Capital Region that I was going to Great Barrington, they said things like "have a good time in Vermont."
This quaint little Massachusetts town is a pretty common destination for people fleeing NYC or Boston for the weekend. The shops are eclectic, the food is interesting, there's plenty of nature -- and good beer.
Beer + food + summer = awesome.
And this Saturday they converge at the Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival. The Tri-City ValleyCats are hosting the festival again this year at The Joe, and we have a pair of "grand slam passes" to give away. Each pass gets you admission, a souvenir sampling glass, 10 tasting tickets, a commemorative t-shirt, admission to a VIP area with a catered buffet, and a ticket to a future ValleyCats game.
To enter the drawing, please answer the following question in the comments:
Before summer rounds third and heads home, what's one thing you want to make sure you do?
We'll draw one winner at random. The deadline to enter is Thursday, July 26 at 11 pm.
Important: One entry per person. You must answer the question to be eligible. You must submit your comment by 11 pm on Thursday, July 26, 2012. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 10 am on Friday, July 27 -- and must respond by 5 pm Friday, July 27.
When the band Cake showed up for their concert at Brewery Ommegang earlier this summer, their first question was: "Where's the ping-pong table?"
And that question helps explain how Cooperstown, better known for baseball, has become a destination for big music shows this summer, including Wilco this week -- and Bon Iver in September.
Tickets for the festival start at $25 (presale) and include 10 tasting tickets, a souvenir glass, and a ticket to a future ValleyCats game (they're on the road this weekend). Other ticket levels include food and VIP whatnot. There's also a $10 designated driver ticket.
The festival is from 2:30-6:30 pm, rain or shine.
Beer enthusiasts will travel a bit to drink at a bar and restaurant, but the most gonzo beer appreciators like to travel to the source. A visit to the TAP New York festival this past April was a reminder of how easy that is to do if you live in the Capital Region.
One downside to beer festivals is that an hour into the tastings most palates are ruined, and the rest of the evening is spent coping without peripheral vision as you polka dance with strangers and speak/scream drink orders. In contrast, brewery tours allow you to taste beer, pair it with food, and learn something about its production.
After the jump, some tips on brewery tastings and a list of some local favorites with details on what to taste, when to visit, and some side excursions to turn a brewery visit into a day trip...
After more than a year of buzz, The Bier Abbey in Schenectady quietly opened its doors to the beer geeks on that side of the Capital Region.
His first time in business, owner George Collentine says he wanted to open the Bier Abbey "out of pure passion." He first ventured into the world of craft beer in the early 90s and was encouraged to open his own bar by the growing interest in microbreweries and craft beers, especially in the Northeast.
"We want to lean toward beer geeks and there are no places in Schenectady that really cater to them," he explained.
So what will beer geeks find there?