Of course, that's changed now. But Good Nature Brewing reminds us of our rich history, and seeks to make ties to that hop-growing heyday.
A while ago, I created a Google map of New York breweries and brewpubs. Over a year and several thousand views later, it was time to update.
So here it is: an updated map of New York breweries and brewpubs with 20 new locations. I tried to include every visitable maker of beer. Some nano-brewery sites didn't indicate they had visiting hours yet. If there is a brewery that you feel should be on the map, please let me know.
View Craft Beer: New York Breweries and Brewpubs in a larger map
Snapperhead IPA gets canned at Butternuts Beer & Ale
If you've ever enjoyed a Moo Thunder Stout or Porkslap Pale Ale you're probably familiar with the name Butternuts and the brewery's colorfully branded line of craft beers. Amusing labels and good beer are just two reasons Butternuts is interesting. They also distribute most of their beer in cans.
The Brew Authority was recently in the greater Cooperstown area to check out the operations of some outstanding New York breweries. First stop: Butternuts.
We pulled into Butternuts early on a Saturday afternoon. The Butternuts' Website didn't have any information on visiting, so we were taking our chances and hoping to get lucky.
Located in rural Garrattsville, NY, the brewery blends in with the pastoral landscape. When we pulled up, the brewery didn't seem to be open. Peeking inside, however, we could see and hear that canning was in process, but didn't see anyone around, and certainly didn't want to get in the way.
Butternuts' unassuming exterior in Garrattsville, NY
A fresh batch of Snapperhead is hatched.
As we were about to leave, however, the brewery owner Chuck Williamson happened out the front. He was very friendly, albeit busy, but gladly let us take a look inside and snap a few photos of the Snapperhead IPA getting canned.
Williamson said that although they don't have official tours, they get frequent visitors during the summer months. He also mentioned they were in the process of building a tasting area that should be in operation for the spring or early summer in 2010.
Butternuts isn't officially on the Cooperstown Beverage Trail, but it's only a half-hour drive over back roads to Brewery Ommegang.
I have been to Brewery Ommegang several times, and it is always a fun stop. The brewery is set up for visitors, and has tours, free tastings, and a gift shop.
A lot is and has been said about the brewery in blogs and beyond, but I did hear a few interesting nuggets on the tour. The brewery is currently building a new warehouse space to house more raw ingredients and store packaged beer. Also, the brewery has recently been designated as a regional brewery, up from a microbrewery. A regional brewery is defined as a brewery that outputs between 15,000 and 2,000,000 barrels of beer a year.
Cooperstown Brewing Company
Cooperstown Brewing Company is always my favorite stop on the Cooperstown Beverage Trail. If Butternuts is new and intriguing, and Ommegang is lauded and visitor friendly, Cooperstown Brewing Co., in Milford, NY, is unpretentious and down to earth.
The tour and tasting at Cooperstown Brewing Co. is a couple of bucks, but worth the investment. My experience has routinely been that you get the most knowledgeable tours and information from the people that work there.
I asked if the brewery had anything new in the works, and they said that they pretty much had their seven styles, and that was that. Although I love trying new, experimental brews, there is something to be said for the quality and consistency in each Cooperstown beer. Less than a mile from Brewery Ommegang, you'd be missing out not to stop by.
C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station is exactly what a great brewpub should be, with award-winning beer, tasty food and a fantastic environment. Armed with a deep thirst, empty stomach and a camera, I recently visited the establishment for the benefit of the readership.
Let's start with the beer. The "Kick-ass Brown" is a three time Great American Beer Festival gold medalist in the brown ale category, most recently in 2008. This is a hoppy, malty beer with great balance. The other beers they make are very good, too. I recommend getting the sampler and going through the lot.
Great beer doesn't necessarily make a great brewpub. Essential, yes, but a brewpub lives and dies as a restaurant, so the food has to be able to stand up to the beer it's paired with. The Albany Pump Station does not falter in this regard. The menu offers a varied selection of both entrees and prices. I have yet to order something I didn't like, and I've heard the sentiment echoed from other patrons.
Finally, the environment is both spacious and intimate, with soaring headspace and great lighting. Take the stairs up for a sweeping overview of the dining and bar area, and give yourself a self-guided "tour" of the brewery.
The Albany Pump Station is easily accessible in downtown Albany, and is conveniently located near attractions like the Times Union Center and the Palace Theater. Check out the official site for directions, hours, the menu and more.
A view from above.
Sampler. (Photo courtesy Heather)