By Don Cazentre
Upstate New York got a taste of what may be its first glitter beer in March, courtesy of the Sato Bewpub in Buffalo. The one-of-a-kind pub that combines Japanese cuisine with Belgian-style beers joined the glitterati with an IPA called Brewnicorn, plus Gold’s Lager, a Shimbo rice lager on glitter, and Peppy Hare, Sato’s Rabbit in the Moon Table Beer on glitter. “It started off as kind of a joke, because I am something of an astute beer purist,” said Drew Hardin, Sato’s brewmaster. “But we like to push the envelope here, so we thought, why not give it a try?”
The glitter is added to the kegs along with the freshly brewed beer, but does not have a long shelf life, Hardin said. “This is probably a one time thing for us,” he said. “But who knows?”
The $2 million renovation and expansion to the Brewery Ommegang visitors center, cafe, gift shop and tasting room near Cooperstown that began in January was still underway in late April. The ”grand reopening” date is still undetermined. Meanwhile, Ommegang’s newest release is Double Barrel Dubbel, a version of its Abbey Ale aged for six months in a mix of bourbon and brandy casks in the brewery’s cellar. Brewed with Pils, Amber, Munich, and Aroma malts and hopped with Syrian Golding and Spalter Select, plus spices like orange peel, coriander, cumin, star anise, and licorice root, it’s 9.9%. Double Barrel Dubbels is available for a limited time in 12-oz 4-packs and on draft. Ommegang has also filled out its summer concert series schedule and will host the annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown fest on Aug. 3 and 4.
In Hamilton, the home of Colgate University, an “accident” several years ago led to one of the beers featured in April at the first anniversary party for Good Nature Brewing’s brewery/tasting room south of the village. The accident was the unforeseen souring of a barrel-aged brown ale. Owners Matt Whalen and Carrie Blackmore liked the pineapple tartness so much they replicated it in other beers. That, in turn, led them to buy two foeders. Now the accidental sour program is legitimate and in full swing. Whalen calls his new sour project the Kung-Foeder series. He’s named the two foeders for kung fu movie actors: One is Jackie (as in Chan) and the other is Bruce (as in Lee). The first beer, fermented and aged for a little more than a year in Jackie, is a golden sour ale that is based on Good Nature’s Bavarian Dream, an unlfiltered German-style wheat beer. It’s 5%, and has an acidity level of 3.17, for a tart, puckering finish. It debuted April 20 at the Good Nature anniversary party. The next batch, currently aging in Bruce, will be “a take on an Oud Bruin,” a traditional Belgian-style brown sour. It’s aged on a bed of 120 pounds of locally grown tart cherries, and will have “more of a barnyard funk” than the sour golden ale, Whalen said.
At Hopshire Farm & Brewery in Drydan, near Ithaca, owner/brewer Randy Lacey is welcoming warm weather with Brambles Raspberry Wheat, brewed with pure raspberry puree. Also coming up is Acers Wild, an Imperial maple nut brown aged for two years. In early May, look for a summer porter, Dragon Ash. Meanwhile, Haze in the Hollow, a New England-style IPA, is moving to the regular year-round rotation. Hopshire celebrates its 5th year anniversary with a party June 23 featuring two bands and the Smokin’ Pete barbecue truck. There will also be special beers and barrel aged versions each hour.
GAEL Brewing Co., south of Geneva on the west shore of Seneca Lake, will release its first lager in late May. “It is a traditional German Pilsner coming in at 5.5%, slightly dry hopped with El Dorado hops giving it a slight lemony characteristic,” GAEL owner/brewer George Adams said. “A great beer to have while dipping your feet in the Finger Lakes.” GAEL celebrates its third anniversary Aug. 5. Details on the event to come.
Work has begun in the Adirondack town of North Hudson on the new Gateway to the Adirondacks tourism hub, which also includes a new home and expansion of Paradox Brewery. Paradox, currently located in Schroon Lake, about 10 miles away, will become the anchor tenant of the $25 million public/private project. The Gateway to the Adirondacks is located in the former Frontier Town theme park at Exit 29 of Interstate 87 (the Northway). Paradox opened in 2013 in Schroon Lake, and desperately needs more space, owner Paul Mrocka said. He’s hoping to open the brewhouse by December, and have the tasting room open by Memorial Day 2019.
The New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, Upstate’s one-stop shopping destination for food and beverages produced in the state, has a new name and a new focus on beer. Now called New York Kitchen, it will celebrate the changes with a beer-centered festival on June 23. The Craft Brew and Barbecue Fest & Championship will feature breweries invited from across the state. Fest-goers (along with a panel of judges) will be invited to participate in choosing their favorites in several categories. Winning breweries will have their beers featured in a “tap takeover” at the New York Kitchen’s bistro restaurant for a year. Even before the change, the bistro featured exclusively New York state beers on tap.
Amid the frequent reports of brewery openings in Upstate New York, there are also closings and other transitions for existing beer makers:
Humble Harvest Brewing, in the small town of Nelson just east of Syracuse, closed in March after less than a year of operation. In a Facebook post, Humble Harvest owner Jim Corey cited family obligations and work (his day job) as the reasons for the shutdown. Humble Harvest’s tap room on Route 20 near Cazenovia had been closed for the season since December, and was supposed to reopen this spring. But Corey said he’s officially turning in his brewery tap room license.
Horseheads Brewing Co., just outside Elmira, is up for sale. Owners Ed and Brenda Samchisen, who opened the brewery in 2007, are retiring. “It’s been a good run,” Ed Samchisen said. “Now we’re headed to a condo in Florida.” Horseheads is notable for twice winning the F.X. Matt Cup as the Best New York State Brewery at the annual TAP New York festival at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills, the state’s largest craft brew fest. It took home the trophy in 2010 and 2015. The brewery is listed for $625,000 in a “turnkey” sale. Samchisen said that includes the building, “state-of-the-art” brewing equipment, beer recipes and more.
Heavily Brewing Co., which opened in 2014 in Montour Falls south of Watkins Glen, closed with a farewell party May 26. It will then convert to a event-only venue called FLX Barn Events at Heavily Brewing Company, and will no longer make beer, a post on it Facebook page says. It will host events such as weddings, fundraisers, parties, rehearsal dinners, etc.
The future is uncertain for Great Adirondack Brewing Co., and its affiliated restaurant, Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood, on Main Street in the heart of Lake Placid. The restaurant has been closed since New Year’s Day, when frozen pipes burst and caused heavy damage. The business has not reopened since then, in part because of a dispute in the family that has operated it since 1996, said general manager Rob Kane. His father, Great Adirondack founder Ed Kane, died in June 2017. Great Adirondack is “closed till further notice,” Rob Kane wrote in an email. The rustic restaurant opened in 1987, and the brewery was added in 1998 (it had started as Lake City Brewing in Plattsburgh in 1996).
Plans for the expansion of Fairport Brewing Co. in the Rochester suburb of Fairport hit a snag with the local historic preservation board. Board members rejected Fairport Brewing’s plan to convert a vacant and dilapidated former gas station into a new brewery tap room with more indoor space and a balcony. Fairport owner Tim Garman said he put more than a year into the project before being shot down.
More space. More visibility. After four years in business, Good Shepherd’s Brewing Co. has relocated to a bigger and better space in downtown Auburn, in the Finger Lakes. The new space is 132 Genesee St., at the corner with William Street. “People have been saying to us, ‘We like your beer but you’re hard to find,’“ said co-owner Garrett Shepherd. With his father and business partner, Bob, he opened the original brewery in a much less visible space a few blocks away. Good Shepherds, aka Sheps, is part of a growing craft beer scene all within a few blocks of each other in downtown Auburn.
The Prison City Pub & Brewery is a short distance away at 28 State St. (with expansion plans in the works). In the Genesee Center enclosed mall at 100 Genesee St., meanwhile, The Thirsty Pug is a combination bottle shop (retail sales) and beer tap room. Coming soon to the Genesee Center is the Next Chapter Brewpub, a restaurant with a brewhouse on site. As part of its move, Good Shepherd’s will be able to double the size of each batch it makes. It still has a 2.5-bbl brewing system (a barrel is 31 gallons), but has added 5-barrel fermenters and tanks. While most of the beer is sold at the tap room, Good Shepherd’s does have a few off-premises draft accounts, including Finger Lakes on Tap in Skaneateles, Elderberry Pond just outside Auburn and The Gould Hotel in Seneca Falls. Good Shepherd’s lineup includes Sunrise IPA (India Pale Ale), Hailey Blonde Ale, There is No Spoon IPA (a hazy “New England style”), and a malty American Pale.