In the last few years I have slowly but surely graduated from the Blue Lights and Genesee Cream Ales of my youth and continued to grow into a beer aficionado. I am still picky, and I definitely don’t know what I am talking about when it comes to saisons and stouts, but I do know my way around the local breweries.
My beer tastes started to grow during my time in Rochester, a city many would recognize for the Genesee Brew House, but is also home to brewers like Rohrbach and Swiftwater. Upon my return to Albany my standards were high, and so far the Capital Region has stood up to the test.
On any given Friday night, I would much rather unwind to a local band, around a oak barrel table at 9pm, than dance the night away into the early morning. Breweries let me do just that.
My new app, the New York State Brewers Association, has made it an adventure to explore and visit as many of the local spots as possible. With a map included, every time I visit a new brewery I get a stamp, moving closer to earning my free tee shirt. And while I am always trying to go some place new, I certainly have my favorites. Among those favorites is Wolf Hollow Brewing Company.
You can find me at Wolf Hollow often times at least once a week. I’ve spent many an evening there and tried plenty of their brews, but without a doubt Brunette’s Revenge holds my heart. Want to read more about my love for Wolf Hollow? Click here.
There is a big mix of breweries in the Capital Region, the long standers like C.H. Evans and Brown’s Brewing, and the new comers, like Great Flats and Fort Orange. But each one offers something special. If you want to eat and drink, Brown’s Brewing in Troy is your best choice. Get a flight and try them all.
If you can only give attention to one brewery in the region, it should be Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, the first of its name, the unskunked, Queen of the hops, the tasting room and the concert venue, Queen of ales, Brewers of the great Rare Vos, Protector of the IPA, Lady of the Upstate Kingdoms, Breaker of Glass, and Mother of Belgian beers. If you don’t understand that reference, you’re probably not a big Game of Thrones fan, but at Brewery Ommegang you’ll find many homages to the famous HBO show. Although the ties to Thrones make Ommegang a destination for viewers, it’s the beers that deserve your full attention. At Brewery Ommegang every detail has meaning, and that means every beer is brewed to perfection. That’s not all it has to offer though, tours, tastings, and a summer concert venue with camping all come together to make this little brewery a really big deal.
The newest to the Capital Region brewery scene, Fort Orange Brewing opened in Downtown Albany this fall. With seats at the bar and large tables in the opened space, you can enjoy one of their beers, all named in reference to historic Albany locations and events. In similar fashion, Great Flats is still new to the scene. Established in Schenectady, this brewery also names their beers after the city in which it resides. Their most recent masterpiece? The Cinnectady Toast Crunch, a stout brewed with 60lbs of sugary cereal cinnamon toast crunch. Keep an eye out for Great Flats, they’re known to host fun events from beer yoga to gingerbread house decorating!
In other brewery news, Shmaltz Brewing in Clifton Park has established itself as a long standing brewery with a twist. Inspired by their Judaisim, Shmaltz beers are named with Hebrew inspiration and the brewery hosts events like a beer and a shmear every weekend where you can enjoy their well made and well named beers alongside a bagel and cream cheese.
Honorable mentions include:
- Rare Form Brewing in Troy
- Mad Jack Brewing at the Van Dyck in Schenectady
- Chatham Brewing in Chatham
- Nine Pin Cider (not beer, but still good)
There are many to choose from and lots of beer to drink. Not a beer person? That’s okay, there’s still time to learn 😉 Here are a few great places to start. What’s your favorite beer? Let me know in the comments and as always, follow along on Instagram.