Items tagged with 'beer'

The history of Albany as seen through beer-colored lenses

upper hudson valley beer cover and craig gravina

Upper Hudson Valley Beer and co-author Craig Gravina

There are many ways to look at the long history of Albany and the surrounding region: politically, economically, architecturally, and so on. Craig Gravina and Alan McLeod have chosen to do so through beer-colored lenses.

The two beer scholars -- you might remember them from the Albany Ale Project -- have teamed up to write Upper Hudson Valley Beer, a book about the rich history of brewing in this region and its resurgence over the last few decades. There's a launch party for the book -- with a beer tasting -- at the Albany Institute on September 11.

We bounced a few questions to Gravina this week about the role of beer in Albany's history, the state of the region's beer scene today, and where it might be headed.

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Capital City Brewcycle

brewcycle outside the ruck in troy

The Brewcycle stopped outside The Ruck in Troy.

By Lauren Hittinger

The Capital City Brewcycle, which started operating in Troy this summer, puts a different spin on the pub crawl -- or, to be more accurate, you put the different spin on the pub crawl. Because the trolley-like Brewcycle is powered by the pedaling of 12 of its passengers.

I got a chance to give it a try this past weekend.

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Another project bubbling in Albany's warehouse district

897 Broadway

Via Steve Barnes comes word of another bar and brewery planned for Albany's warehouse district, this time in a building next to Wolff's on Broadway -- head over to Table Hopping for the details.

A few quick things:

+ The transformation of the warehouse district neighborhood continues. There's obvious potential there, but also some complications.

+ This bit of news starts to flesh out the story around Albany Brewing Co, which apparently has been in planning for a while. Albany Brewing would be the third brewery/cidery along that stretch, with Nine Pin already there and the Druthers brewery planned for just up Broadway.

+ How big is the market for craft breweries (and bars)? Over at Drink Drank recently, beer writer Craig Gravina (also of the Albany Ale Project) had some thoughts about this topic -- he thinks the beer market is "over-crowded." See also his thoughts earlier this year on "the beer bar saturation point."

Moules Frites at Brewery Ommegang

moules frites ommegang

By Deanna Fox

Ah, summer. What could be more quintessentially American summertime than baseball, beer, and moules frites.

Yep, I said it. Moules. Frites.

Okay, so maybe that's a reach. While baseball and drinking beer are endemic to this country, the fancy title for mussels and French fries is a classic Belgian item.

But there is a place where those three elements -- baseball, beer, and moules frites -- coalesce in harmony, and that's Cooperstown, the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the hometown of one of the best examples of Belgian beer and food in America: Brewery Ommegang.

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Books on Tap at Shmaltz

Poster for Books on Tap- John Holl copy.jpgCould be fun/tasty: This summer Shmaltz Brewing in Clifton Park is hosting a Books on Tap program, where beer writers offer talks, tastings and, in some cases, food pairings.

The talks are on Sunday afternoons, and the series kicks off this weekend with Shmaltz owner and author Jeremy Cowan moderating a talk by beer journalist John Holl, author of the American Craft Beer Cook Book . Chef Rachel of The Ruck in Troy will prepare recipes from the book, which will be paired with Shmaltz brews. The tasting and pairing is $15.

Future Books on Tap talks/tastings include:

+August 3 - Giancarlo and Sarah Annese, authors of Beer Lovers New York
+August 10 - Ben Keene, author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour
+August 17 - Tom Acitelli, author of The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution

(For the sake of disclosure, John Holl is married to Mary's cousin.)

Breweries in New York State

nys brewery map clip 2

A clip from a clickable map of breweries in New York State.

The United States had more than 3,000 active breweries during the month of June, according to figures out from the Brewers Association this week. According to its research, it's the first time the nation has had that many breweries since the 1870s.

New York State has 252 active, or planned, breweries, according to a check today of listings maintained by the Brewers Association. In 2013, BA figures the Empire State had 165 breweries -- up from 75 in 2011. That ranked New York 26th in the nation for breweries per capita. (Vermont was ranked #2.)

We've rolled a map from the Brewers Association list of active and planned brewery projects in New York State -- it's after the jump.

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World of Beer opening at Crossgates

world of beer lineupThe chain World of Beer is set to open its new location at Crossgates June 23. The beer restaurant is on the lower level near the movie theater.

That there is a chain of craft beer restaurants with 54 locations is either a sign that the craft beer boom is continuing to roll along -- and/or perhaps that we're rapidly approaching peak craft beer. (And then, what, the craft beer apocalypse? Maybe New York State can fall back on its strategic cider reserves.)

Anyway, this bit about WOB (its term for itself) caught our attention:

In addition to more than 500 craft beers in bottles, World of Beer will offer 56 beers on tap from more than 40 countries. Partnering with thousands of craft breweries allows World of Beer to rotate over 10,000 beer items in its coolers. World of Beer offers patrons the most unique and complex beers from local, domestic and international brewers.

You might have to order a beer while you figure out which beer to order.

Recently on AOA:
+ Rare Form Brewing Co.
+ Stopping in at the Madison Pour House

photo: World of Beer

Rare Form Brewing Company

Rare Form tap room

Rare Form's tap room/brewery space, which was being prepped on Tuesday.

The new Rare Form Brewing Company in Troy is set to open its doors this Friday. The startup craft brewery is the result of a long-running plan by married couple Kevin Mullen and Jenny Kemp, who moved to the Capital Region after stops in Denver and Seattle.

Rare Form's opening also marks the ongoing transformation of its block at Congress St and 4th Street, which over the next few months four new storefronts are planned -- the sort of change that has a lot of people optimistic about the future of Troy.

We stopped by this week to get a look at what's in the works, and talk with some of the people involved.

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A year of Shmaltz in Clifton Park

shmaltz brewing composite

What can you do with an English degree?

Well, English-major-turned-craft-brewer Jeremy Cowan founded Shmaltz Brewing Company. But the idea for a beer company came way before college. It was an inside joke between high school friends who were among the few Jewish kids in their San Francisco school and thought Jews needed their own beer brand. So they came up with "He' Brew" and the tag line, "Don't Pass Over Sober."

More than 20 years later that high school joke has turned into an award-winning craft brewery known for both its playful, irreverent beer names such as He'Brew, Rejewvenator, and Hop Manna -- and for experimenting with interesting blends and styles of beer. And last year, Cowan opened a $3.3 million brewery, the brand's first, in Clifton Park.

Clifton Park? It's a question Cowan gets a lot.

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Beer writer and beer dinner at The Ruck

beer writer john hollCould be interesting: Beer writer John Holl will be at the Ruck in Troy May 13 for an Allagash beer dinner. Tickets are $50 and available at the bar or via email (see the link).

Holl is the editor of All About Beer Magazine, and the author of the The American Craft Beer Cookbook. He's also lined up for a book signing that same day at Market Block Books in Troy from 4:30-6:30 pm.

His definition of "craft beer"? From an interview last year: "It's an evolving term. It used to mean small (micro brews) but now many are not that small. So, craft is really, to me, about beers that are well made that are about flavor and imagination. A beer that is pleasant to drink, and comes from companies with good philosophies and focus on their product and communities."

The dinner at the Ruck is six courses paired with different Allagash beers. A few example courses: "Grilled Texas Creamed Corn with Seared Diver Scallop paired with Allagash Tripel" and "Smoked Braised Pork Belly with Pear Slaw paired with Allagash Dubbel."

(Oh, and just for the sake of disclosure: He's married to Mary's cousin.)

photo via John Holl's website

TAP NY 2014

TAP NY judgingThe annual TAP NY craft beer festival will be back at Hunter Mountain April 26 and 27. Tickets are on sale now -- they're $73.44 for that Saturday / $60.48 for Sunday / $21.60 for designated drivers.

There are more than 70 breweries registered for this year's festival, 18 of them new to the event. Blurbage:

Many of the invited brewers produce their beer for sale only in their location.... whether it is a restaurant, a brewpub or a small brewery. Others are breweries large enough to distribute on a larger scale, but maintain an excellent quality through their commitment to hands-on, craft-brewing their product. You won't find Anheuser-Busch, Coors, or Miller products here. What you will find are some truly remarkable beers that will tantalize your taste buds... beers that offer a variety of color and flavor that the big brewers don't do. You'll find everything from pale ales and pilseners, to weisbiers, porters, stouts, and scotch ales; from hearty Bohemian and Bavarian-style lagers to glorious Belgian-style ales and much more.

The festival is also a competition for beer brewers in the state.

We get the impression the Saturday session of the festival often sells out, so if you're interested in going, it's probably a good idea to get tickets sooner rather than later.

Hunter Mountain is in the northern Catskills, a little over an hour's drive from Albany.

New breweries: Over at In The Name of Beer, Greg Back has been profiling the breweries that are new to the festival this year.

Earlier on AOA: Trying the "best craft beer in New York State"

photo: TAP NY FB

Planned for Lark Street: Brew

brew albany shop logoThis will pique the curiosity of some people: A new "craft beverage" shop is planned for Lark Street, in the space currently occupied by Fuzz Records at 209 Lark (the intersection of Lark and State). The shop -- called Brew -- is aiming for an early summer open.

The people behind Brew are Fuzz Records owner Joshua Cotrona and business partner August Rosa. From a press release:

Highlights of the shop include a growler fill up station, a make your own six-pack section with a wide selection of bottled beer, a wall of specialty coffees and teas, cold brewed coffee concentrate growlers, and a cooler of ice cold beverages. Drip coffee, cold brewed coffee, and tea will also be available to go by the cup.
Additionally, Brew will sell beer making equipment, supplies, and ingredients for Capital Region home brewers. It's the shop's hope that Brew's product line will inspire customers to make their own concoctions. A detailed product lineup will be made available at www.brewalbany.com as opening day approaches.
The shop plans on bringing quality events to the area including tap takeovers from American craft brewers, coffee cuppings, educational programs and more.

The plan is for Brew to also sell a small selection of records, and Cotrona will continue to sell music through the website for Fuzz.

So what prompted the pair to plan the shop? Rosa told us this morning via email: "The idea came up when we realized the need for a craft beer outlet in the Center Square neighborhood. We decided to expand the offerings to include coffee, teas, and other beverages down the road. Our shop will help residents in downtown Albany skip a trip out to the suburbs for these items."

The store's liquor license is currently pending, according to the SLA website.

This area has had a bubbling craft beverage scene over the last few years -- including producers such as Albany Distilling Co. and Nine Pine Cider Works, as well as an increased focus on high-quality coffee. So maybe this is another piece in that overall picture.

Update: Over at Albany Proper, Patrick talked with the shop's owners at length about their plans.

Hudson Valley Hops 2014

albany institute beverwyck beer tray

A tray from the old Beverwyck Brewery in Albany. It once stood on Ferry Street, not far from where the Central Warehouse stands today.

Could be fun/interesting: The Hudson Valley Hops event returns to the Albany Institute April 12. Blurbage:

This event is a celebration of the strong history of brewing in Albany and today's craft beer industry. Guests can sample the finest local craft beers, hear talks by beer historians and brewery experts, enjoy tasty food, and take home a commemorative glass. There will also be a special exhibition with artifacts that tell the history of brewing in Albany and the capital region. Historic photographs, advertisements, and packaging from local brewers will be on view for this event. ...
Participating breweries include: Adirondack Brewery, Brewery Ommegang, Brown's Brewing Co., Chatham Brewing, C.H. Evans Brewing, Druthers, and Olde Saratoga Brewing Co.
Guest speakers include: Craig Gravina and Alan McLeod from the Albany Ale Project; Dietrich Gehring from Indian Ladder Farms; Roger Savoy from Homebrew Emporium; and Sam Filler from the Craft Beer Initiative at Empire State Development.

Albany has a long, interesting brewing history. So there's definitely a lot hear about. And, you know, there will also be beer.

The event is from 4-7 pm at the museum on April 12. Tickets are $30 each.

Earlier on AOA: Resurrecting a beer, and part of Albany's history

The Albany Institute advertises on AOA.

image: "Beverwyck Brewing Company Serving Tray" from the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art

Touring Burlington breweries

burlington breweries samples at VPB

Samples at the Vermont Pub and Brewery.

By Lauren Hittinger

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...

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Craft New York Beer Fest at The Desmond

ny craft brewers association logoThe 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.

Event blurbage:

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.

This Desmond event is the second in a series of beer festivals organized by the brewers association. The first was in Syracuse last November. Here's a recap. [Syracuse Guru]

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.

Stopping in at the Madison Pour House

Madison Pour House exterior

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.

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Brewery planned for North Albany warehouse district

The building for the planned Druthers brewery facility/tasting room/restaurant.

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.

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Raising a farm brewery incubator in Rensselaerville

carey center barnThe 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.

So why does this sort of project matter? Over at Drink Drank, Craig Gravina -- you know, from the Albany Ale Project -- explained recently. Here's a clip:

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Tapping a cask of Albany Ale

craig gravin and ryan demler at pump station

Craig Gravina and the CH Evans' Ryan Demler working on the Albany Ale at the Pump Station this past September.

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

Resurrecting a beer, and part of Albany's history

ryan demler adding invert sugar to a tank

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.

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Recreating Albany Ale

taylor and sons albany ale

Beer writers/historians Craig Gravina and Alan McLeod have launched website for the the Albany Ale Project. Blurbage:

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 recreate some of the beers of Albany's past. To do that, they say they're collaborating with the C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Pump Station and The Homebrew Emporium:

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

Excelsior Pub closing -- for now

excelsior pub taps smallThe Excelsior Pub in Albany -- which focused on New York beers and wines -- is closing tonight (August 23). Steve has some of the details over at Tablehopping.

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

The beers that shaped New York's beer scene

Thumbnail image for albany institute beverwyck beer trayOver 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

Drawing: Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival

capital region craft brewers festival logo 2013Drawing's closed!

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: Barrel-aged Beer Festival at City Beer Hall

city beer hall exterior

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.

The short version of the long history of local beer

albany institute beverwyck beer trayInteresting: 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

Ommegang Take the Black Stout

ommegang take the black stoutBrewery 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.

Earlier on AOA: Trying Ommegang's new Iron Throne Blonde, and toasting the King of the North

photo: Brewery Ommegang

Trying the "best craft beer in New York State"

peekskill brewery higher standard ipa

By Casey Normile

Have you ever tried a beer and thought to yourself: "This is the best beer around."

Well, this year at TAP NY, they made it official. For the first time, the New York beer festival awarded the Governors' Cup to a brewery for best craft beer in New York State.

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.

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Breweries, wineries, and distilleries of New York

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...

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Beer Diviner Kickstarter

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

The Beer Diviner

beer diviner composite

By Casey Normile

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.

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Trying Ommegang's new Iron Throne Blonde, and toasting the King of the North

ommegang game of thrones dinner composite

By Danielle Sanzone

Beer geekdom went to a whole new level with the recent release of Brewery Ommegang's Iron Throne Blonde Ale, which is inspired by the HBO show Game of Thrones.

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.

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The beer you wish you could get here -- but can't

hoosick street beverage west coast beers

Some of the West Coast beers at Hoosick Street Beverage.

By Jeff Janssens

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.

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Stopping by Butternuts Beer and Ale

butternuts brewery exterior

By Casey Normile

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.

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Game of Thrones beer dinner at Ommegang

ommegang game of thrones bottleBrewery Ommegang is releasing its new Game of Thrones-inspired ale with a wild game dinner March 15 at the brewery in Cooperstown. Blurbage:

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

Ravens Head: Cohoes Armory is a done deal

The Cohoes Armory, via Google Street View.

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.

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Ravens Head Brewing focusing on Cohoes Armory


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Ravens Head Brewing -- the startup brewing company/brewpup that had been hoping to set up at St. Joseph's in Albany -- has put in an offer on the Cohoes Armory, the Business Review reports.

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.

The armory dates back to 1893. Its architect was Isaac Perry, who not only designed a handful of armories around the state, but also supervised a phase of the state capitol construction.

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 considering alternatives to St. Joseph's

st josephs albany exterior

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.

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Adirondack Pub and Brewery

adirondack pub and brewery exterior

By Casey Normile

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.

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Mahar's bumped from its Albany location

mahar's exterior

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.

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Ommegang making a Game of Thrones beer

game of thronesBrewery Ommegang says it's partnering with HBO to create a series of Game of Thrones beers. From the blurbage:

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.

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The Excelsior Pub: exclusively New York

Excelsior Pub: Empire State beer, wine and spirits.

By Casey Normile

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.

The popularity of New York beers led him to start The Excelsior Pub, a recently opened pub attached to Cafe 217 in Albany that offers only New York beers and wines, and a host of New York spirits.

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Trying the Growler Station at Price Chopper

growler station price chopper slingerlands

Tucked between the rotisserie and the deli.

By Casey Normile

With a new ShopRite right across the street, the Slingerlands Price Chopper has upped its game. Among the upgrades at the remodeled store: a Growler Station Express.

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?

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Pumpkin (fill in the blank) season has begun

pumpkin food composite

By Casey Normile

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.

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Scythe & Sickle

ommegang scythe and sickleOmmegang 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.

Here's the Beer Advocate profile for Scythe & Sickle (score: 85). And Paste recently rated it #5 out 16 fall beers in a taste test (#2 was Southern Tier Harvest).

Has anyone spotted this in the wild in the Capital Region -- or, even better, tried it?

photo: Brewery Ommegang

New York hops

Hops

Little flower, big taste.

By Casey Normile

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.

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Crossroads Brewing Company

crossroads brewing company composite

By Casey Normile

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.

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Road Trip: Great Barrington

great barrington composite

A day in Great Barrington.

By Casey Normile

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.

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Passes to the Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival at Joe Bruno Stadium

capital region craft brewers festival 2012Beer + 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.

Why Ommegang became a concert destination

cake concert at ommegang Skyla Pojednic

Cake performing at Ommegang earlier this year. / photo: Skyla Pojednic - photoset

By Casey Normile

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.

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Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival

capital region craft brewers festival 2012Could be fun: the third annual Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival is this Saturday (July 28) at Joe Bruno Stadium. Thirty craft brewers from around the Northeast will be there offering samples.

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.

Destination: beer

brewery visiting composite

By Jesse Drury

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...

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The Bier Abbey

bier abbey exterior closeup

Beer, with church pews.

By Casey Normile

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?

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The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

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