Partners in Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing Co., from left: Matt Monahan. Sam Richardson Andrew Burman. Other Half is expanding to Upstate New York with the purchase of the former Nedloh Brewing Co. near Canandaigua.
By Don Cazentre
It’s being described as “transformative,” “a seismic shift” and just plain awesome news for Upstate New York beer fans.
Other Half Brewing Co., the 4-year-old Brooklyn outfit that quickly became one of America’s major destination breweries for hazy, juicy New England IPA can releases, is opening a second location in Upstate’s Finger Lakes region – Destination: East Bloomfield, N.Y.
It’s the second noted New York City brewer to make a move Upstate: In May, SingleCut Beersmiths of Queens announced it is buying the 50-barrel Shmaltz Brewing Co. facility in Clifton Park, north of Albany. (see details below).
Other Half’s new location is about 30 miles south of downtown Rochester, and just a few miles west of Canandaigua at the top of Canandaigua Lake. It’s roughly halfway between Buffalo and Syracuse. And, as the crew from Other Half learned in the past year or so, they have a lot of fans in this part of the world. They’ve staged can releases at locations like Now & Later taproom and shop in Syracuse, the Tap & Mallet pub in Rochester and the Thin Man Brewery in Buffalo.
Fans lined up around the block at each location for their share of Other Half. Many came from some distance away.
“We’ve sensed a real craving for our beers Upstate, especially from Syracuse to Rochester and Buffalo,” said Andrew Burman, one of three partners in Other Half. “So this is really an opportunity for us to make more of our beer available to more of our fans.”
Other Half’s partners – Burman, Matt Monahan and Sam Richardson – announced July 24 that they are buying the former Nedloh Brewing Co., a small brewery in East Bloomfield that opened in 2014 and closed in 2017. Other Half paid $660,000 for a 4-acre site that includes an 8,000 sq ft building, of which about 3,500 sq ft is now set up for production.
For Other Half, the availability of the Nedloh site offered “a perfect opportunity,” Burman said. They plan to invest $1.8 million in renovations and upgrades to the site (and they’ll receive $400,000 in income tax credits through the Empire State Development office if they fulfill their pledge to add 35 jobs in the next five years).
They’ll boost the size of the former Nedloh brewhouse (it’s now 10-barrels). Eventually, they’ll add equipment and space there for more sour, wild and barrel-aged beers. In Brooklyn, they’ll retain their modest taproom and add to the brewhouse.
Other Half currently operates without third-party distribution (they haul their own beer to out-of-town releases). They don’t plan to sign with a distributor, at least for now. They want to make the Finger Lakes site a destination for tourists and beer travelers from across New York, and possibly even nearby parts of Canada, where interest in hazy New England IPAs has also been on the increase.
“We want to see our customers when they come and visit us,” Burman said. Of course, one reason to expand in Upstate New York is the lower cost of real estate. This particular location appealed to Other Half’s owners because of its central position on the Syracuse-Rochester-Buffalo axis. But there’s more: It’s in the Finger Lakes, a region becoming better known nationally for its wineries, breweries, artisan food producers and farm-to-table dining. “We definitely are working on how we can fit into what’s happening in the Finger Lakes,” Burman said. “That’s exciting for us.”
The new brewery, tentatively called Other Half Roc for its proximity to Rochester, will have a farm brewing license, allowing it to receive benefits for using New York grown ingredients. While the new Other Half will make beers that have been associated with the Brooklyn operation, like the hoppy IPAs and its Berliner Weisse, it will also put more effort into sours, barrel-aged brews and “farmhouse” beers like saisons.
“I think you’ll see beers that are going to be identified with that brewery,” Burman said. “There will be beers that differentiate themselves in that location.”
The SingleCut Purchase of Shmaltz
SingleCut Beersmiths announced its purchase of the 50-bbl Shmaltz brewery in the Saratoga County town of Clifton Park in late May. The transition will be complete by the end of the year.
The move should mean more volume for the Queens-based brewer, and potentially more variety from Shmaltz, which will return to its former status as a contract-brewed brand.
The Clifton Park brewery, to be renamed SingleCut North, will produce higher volumes of beers like 18-Watt IPA, Weird & Gilly IPA, Kim Hibiscus Sour Lager and others that have become sought after by craft beer fans. SingleCut will keep its brewhouse and taproom in Astoria, Queens, to brew smaller batch and experimental beers.
The expansion will “ensure that our loyal bars, bottle shops, restaurants, and high-end grocers currently offering SC are always stocked with fresh and available kegs and cans,” SingleCut said in a post on social media. “SingleCut North will focus on creating your favorite go-to beers … With this new volume, we’re working to save you a few bucks too.”
The Shmaltz brands, brewed under the labels He’Brew, 518 and Alphabet City, will continue to be owned and marketed by Shmaltz founder Jeremy Cowan. He will brew Shmaltz beers at the Clifton Park brewery, which he opened in 2012, through the end of 2018. Then he’ll hand the brewery off to SingleCut owner Rich Buceta. After that, Cowan will produce Shmaltz beers by using other breweries to make his products under contract.
He anticipates using several breweries, including some in Upstate New York. It’ a return to Shmaltz’s roots: The company had its beer made by other brewers under contract from the time of its founding in 1996 until Cowan opened the Clifton Park brewery in 2013.
“This lets me get back to what I’m better at – making beers, creating new ones and doing sales and marketing,” Cowan said. “My passion was never running a beer factory.”