By Don Cazentre
Welcome to Brew York. Brewed by Ithaca Beer Co., it’s billed as the first beer “predominantly” made with New York ingredients to be distributed statewide and year-round. That definition, provided in a press release by the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, caused a bit of a stir in the state’s booming farm brewery community. After all, many farm breweries in the state, and there are more than 200, have been making beers with mostly or all New York ingredients for years. But this one, touted by the governor, may be the first to guarantee year-round availability across the state.
The beer is made with nearly 70% New York-grown barley and 100% New York hops. That exceeds the new farm brewery standards that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019: From then until Dec. 31, 2023, at least 60% of hops and 60% of other ingredients must come from New York for a farm brewery license.
Ithaca Beer Co., which opened in 1998 and expanded with a larger brewhouse and taproom in 2012, isn’t even a farm brewery. But it does have the brewing capacity and distribution resources to produce a statewide beer year-round. This isn’t the first time Ithaca has scored a first using New York ingredients. In 2004, it produced a Double IPA that was the first modern craft beer made with all-New York hops.
“This is a nice next step for us,” said Ithaca Beer Co. president Dan Mitchell. “We’ve been working to use New York ingredients, and you know the industry is changing so much. We want to be as creative as we can in our approach and supportive of the state industry.”
Brew York, at 5.25%, will be an “approachable” pale ale, meant to appeal to a wide range of drinkers, said Andrew Hausman, Ithaca’s director of brewing operations. It’s balanced between malt and hops, but perhaps a little “hop forward,” he said.
“It’s got a nice bit of fruit and berry (in the aroma),” he said. The hops are Cascade, Chinook and Centennial varieties that grow well in New York.
The first 50-barrel batch of Brew York was set to debut May 15. Ithaca Beer is buying the barley malt for Brew York from New York Empire Malt in Champlain, Clinton County and 1886 Malt House in Fulton, Oswego County. Its hop suppliers are Chimney Bluffs Hoppery in Wolcott, Wayne County and Ledyard Farms in King Ferry, Cayuga County.