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NY's Southern Tier Brew News
by Richard Vang
Great Lakes Brewing News, (East Amherst, NY) 1997, 2:1

Presented by the Upstate Chunk & Paradigm Company

 


[GLBN Publisher's Note: Great Lakes Brewing News is thrilled to welcome beer news reporting veteran and writer extraordinaire Richard Vang, who will cover the brewing news in the southern tier.]

Cooperstown Brewing Company
River Street, Milford, NY

Cooperstown Brewing Company, brewers of the increasingly popular Old Slugger Pale Ale, was founded in 1994. The family-run business, which operates from a renovated 1940’s milk plant "down the road" in Milford, first began brewing in the spring of 1995. Old Slugger is an English-style Pale Ale, rich in two-row malted barley and hops, and boasts a hearty body with a clean, dry finish. CBC brews their beer with a copper kettle, Peter Austin system (developed by Alan Pugsley) with an annual output of around 3000 barrels, and in late 1995 a 120-bottle per minute bottling line was installed.

In order to help the locals through the long Otsego County winters, CBC introduced the chocolately, mellow Benchwarmer Porter (aka Otsego Winter Ale) to rave reviews. Both are now being bottled, and are available across most of the Empire State. Brian and Assistant Brewer Lyn Barton also produced Nine Man Ale, a refreshing golden ale with a touch of honey, in the summer of 1996. Many blame the Nine Man Ale for the poor record of the CBC Old Sluggers, who finished last in the Men’s Senior Baseball League Leatherstocking Division.

On occasion a special brew can be found on tap at the brewery, which hosts many music and/or historical celebrations and open houses. Their first AHA-sanctioned Homebrew competition was held on Jan. 11, with 48 beers being judged. Placing in best of show were Mark Zimmerman of Candor (1st - Porter), Michael Beaudette of Utica (2nd - Eisbock), and Dr. Hugh Babineau of Cooperstown (3rd - Scotch Ale). The event has led to the formation of the area’s first homebrew club, the Otsego County Quaff and Scoffers. For information, contact CBC.

The next CBC public appearance will be at the Winter Carnival in Cooperstown in mid-February. Tours of the brewery are available seven days per week. It is located six miles south of Cooperstown on Rt. 28. A video tour is also available when staffing is light, so you can be assured of an enjoyable visit.

Contact information: CBC, River Street, Milford, NY 13807 (607)286-9330

 

Vanberg & DeWulf’s "Belgian Brewery"
River Road, Cooperstown, NY

Almost 400 years ago, a Belgian brewer was brought aboard the Mayflower to ensure a vital supply of good beer. Now, that scene is being re-enacted by Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, recognized Belgian beer experts and co-owners of Vanberg & DeWulf, importers of traditional Belgian ales since 1982. They have planned the nation’s first Belgian-style farmstead brewery, to be located near Cooperstown. Partners in the joint brewing venture include the proprietors of two of Belgium’s leading independents: Michel Moortgat, President of The Moortgat Brewery (makers of Duvel); Theo Vervloet, Berwer at DeSmedt (makers of Affligem); and Ben Gevaert, an independent brewing consultant and former Managing Director at Moortgat. The brewer is a Belgian native and graduate of Louvain’s Institute of Brewing Studies, who will arrive this winter. Construction is well under way, with the grand opening slated for mid-summer 1997, and brewing beginning around mid-May. All the beers will be bottle-conditioned in the traditional Belgian manner.

The siting of the brewery at Cooperstown is particularly appropriate, considering the area’s unrivaled hops history. By the Civil War, nearly 90% of the total U.S. hop crop was raised in New York -- over one-third from Otsego County alone. The brewery itself sits on the site of a former hops farm in an area once known as "Hop City," in reference to the numerous hop yards and kilns of legendary grower Jimmy Clark, who often sold major portions of his crops to Bass in England.

The area’s Belgic connection dates from 1614 when a navigator named Kleynties on Henry Hudson’s Dutch East India Company expedition mapped Otsego Lake and the Susquehanna River for the first time. The brewery building, whose property borders the Susquehanna, recalls farmhouse breweries of Belgium in the last century. In Belgium, farmers were the original brewers, growing their own barley and hops. This relationship to the land has been largely lost. By selecting a rural site and building in a manner consistent with farmstead brewery architectural traditions, Feinberg & Littlefield hope to re-emphasize this connection, and add a level of historical enjoyment to the delicious Belgian style ales they will be brewing.

In addition to these historical connections, Vanberg & DeWulf’s offices have also been located in Cooperstown for several years. Always active in the community, Don and Wendy hosted a very successful Belgian beer tasting at the New York State Historical Association’s Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown. Nearly 60 guests were treated to historical lectures, good fellowship, and of course, the very fine Belgian beers, accompanied by appropriate and tasty foods. More are planned for the future. Rumor has it that either the Belgian brewery or the Farmer’s Museum will be restoring an original hop house.

Contact information: Vanberg & DeWulf, River Road, Cooperstown, NY 13326, 1 (800) 656-1212

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The first casualty of the area was the Dry Town Brewery in Oneonta, late makers of Susquehanna Gold and Otsego Amber Ale. The brewery opened in 1995, and closed in 1996.

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