Sunday, February 19, 2017

Did anyone attend the 'Gathering of the Cideries'?

Here's a look at the crowd visiting the Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany on Saturday for the 3rd annual 'Gathering of the Cideries" celebrating the burgeoning New York State cider scene. (Nine Pin photo)

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Diageo's Roe & Co. will be latest brand in Irish whiskey boom

The Irish whiskey scene, emboldened by improved domestic legislation and a major infusion of capital funding, is on a major growth spurt.

For generations, four distilleries -- Cooley, Bushmills, Kilbeggan and Midleton, the home of Jameson -- produced the vast majority of Irish whiskies. Now, there are 32 distilleries in operation or being built in Ireland. And, that means many new labels coming to market.

The latest example is from the beverage giant Diageo, the owner of Guinness. It has just announced it will be launching a new premium blended Irish whiskey named Roe & Co. Initially, it will be released across Europe in March, with the U.S. market being added on a schedule to be announced.

Diageo said it plans to invest as much as $27 million into this project over the next three years. This includes the construction of a new distillery in 2019 near its Guinness Brewery at St. James’ Gate in Dublin. The proposed site for the new distillery is the former Guinness Power House, a short distance from the brewery at St. James' Gate close to the old George Roe distillery from which the new whiskey derives its name.

Until the new distillery is constructed, Roe & Co. will be produced by blending different whiskies from various distilleries throughout Ireland, sourced by its master blender Caroline Martin.

In a statement, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, said, "Irish whiskey is experiencing a renaissance and is truly an Irish success story. It is seeing a return to the success it experienced in its golden era in the 19th Century and is now the fastest growing spirit drink in the world with global sales increasing by over 300% and record exports of over €400,000,000 ($424,580,000) in the last 10 years."
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump wine sells out during VA boycott attempt of Wegmans

From WTVR.com
RICHMOND, VA -- A call by a women’s organization to boycott the popular Wegmans grocery chain for selling Trump wine seems to have resulted in its stores selling out of the wine.

The Washington Post reported the Prince William County (VA) National Organization for Women planned to protest Wegmans in Northern Virginia over its refusal to remove Trump wine from its shelves. “Certainly if Wegmans is carrying Trump wines, I personally will not shop there,” Terry O’Neill, president of the NOW.

A Wegmans spokesperson said the Upstate New York-based grocer sells five varieties of Trump wine in its 10 Virginia stores. Wegmans, which sells 237 different wines from 58 Virginia wineries, began carrying Kluge Winery products in 2008 and continued when Trump bought the winery in 2011. Wegmans commented that its role as a retailer is to offer customers a choice.
Go here for the full story. And, go here for another report on the same topic.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Padre Azul Tequila takes small step into U.S. market

The Padre lineup
The ever-expanding presence of premium tequilas on the U.S. spirits scene goes on. The high-end Padre Azul Tequila, owned by beverage company Tradition Mexico, is now sending its products to Georgia with an eye toward entering more domestic markets.

Padre Azul Tequila already is sold in 16 countries. Hans-Peter Eder, company co-founder and co-owner, says with unsurprising partisan pride, “It should come as no surprise that both retailers and consumers would respond to its quality and value. It is the world’s fastest growing tequila, and although it is somewhat new to the U.S. market, the brand is well known globally. "

Padre was named among the world’s best tequila brands at the World Spirit Competition in 2016 and its Padre Azul Tequila Blanco Aejo 2016 received a 921 out of a possible 1,000 points in the Falstaff Bar & Spirit Competition.

Currently, there are three items in the line exported to the U.S. -- blanco, reposado and añjeo. Padre Azul Tequila Añejo, the most popular item in the line, carries a suggested retail price of  $99 per 750ml bottle.

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Report: Taste NY program helped triple sales in 2016

The state's Taste NY program created to promote the state's food and beverage industries is three years old. So, how is it doing?

Sales of those items nearly tripled in 2016, according to an analysis just released by Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, surpassing what it says was his goal of doubling sales of participating businesses in one year.

Total gross sales of New York products from Taste NY stores, cafés, bars, concessions and events topped $13.1 million last year, the highest annual sales in the program’s brief history.

“Taste NY continues to connect New York’s world-class farmers and food and beverage producers with New Yorkers hungry for locally made goods, as well as those across the nation and around the world who crave the high quality of Empire State-made products," Cuomo said. “These sales numbers are proof positive of Taste NY's success and we will continue investing in this program to help create jobs and spur economic growth in businesses and communities across New York."

The sales increase in 2016 was supported by the addition of four new Taste NY stores and cafés. In addition, the first-ever Taste NY Bar was opened at Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and the New York Islanders hockey team. A second later was opened at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.

New York products also are offered on 13 Amtrak trains and at five minor league baseball stadiums in the state, and at dozens of major events around New York. Cuomo's 2017-18 Executive Budget proposes support for Taste NY at new welcome centers across the state.

The budget proposal also includes expanding the sale of alcoholic beverages in certain venues, such as movie theaters, an effort to provide a boost to the state’s craft beverage industry, although Cuomo's message does not limit that to New York products as an earlier speech seemed to indicate.  In addition, Cuomo has proposed the launch of a first-ever "New York Craft Beverage Week" and a new grant for craft beverage producers to engage in joint marketing campaigns and enter products in national and international competitions.

Richard A. Ball, state agriculture commissioner, says, “Taste NY has given consumers an opportunity to better understand what the State has known all along -- our local food and beverage companies are truly second to none.  Because of the strong, positive response to the Taste NY brand, agricultural producers and small businesses in every region of the state are growing, expanding their operations and adding jobs, and helping to strengthen the State economy.” 
   

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Catching you up in beer-centric events

Here's a small sampling of the many beer-centric events going on in the Greater Capital Region.

• The 6th annual Saratoga Beer Week will run from next Tuesday through Saturday, February 25, at the Saratoga City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, and numerous other venues throughout the city. Many have scheduled sampling sessions for various New York State beers. Go here for the full rundown of all events.

• Executive chef Matt Weekes of Henry Street Taproom, 86 Henry Street, Saratoga Springs, is teaming with Christian Weber of Common Roots Brewing Company of South Glens Falls and Kevin Mullen of Rare Form Brewing Company of Troy for a four-course beer pairing dinner from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday. Reservations are $65. Phone: (518) 886-8938.

Bailey's Cafe, 37 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, will offer a New York beer pairing menu from Tuesday through Saturday, February 25, as part of Saratoga Beer week, from noon to 11 p.m. each day. It will feature such labels as Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, Saratoga Local Session IPA, Saranac Legacy IPA, and Druthers Fist of Karma Brown. Phone: (518) 583-6060.

• A tasting of gluten free beers and ciders will be held at Kraverie from 4:30 to 10 p. m. Wednesday, February 22. A sampling of gluten free food items also will be available. Kraverie is located at  78 Beekman Street, Saratoga Springs. Phone: (518) 450-7423.
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3-night whirl to end Bartenders' Guild first-round competition

With the initial first-round test in the books, the next three in the U.S. Bartenders' Guild Albany's competition will be held in rapid succession.

The 7-10 p.m. events, with bartenders from Troy, Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs using Albany Distilling Company's rye and Deathwish vodka to make two drinks each, are:
  • Friday, February 26, Wellington's at the Renaissance, 144 State Street, Albany
  • Saturday, February 27, Aperitivo Bistro, 426 State Street, Schenectady
  • Sunday, February 28, The Tuck, 104 Third Street, Troy
The first event, held at Hamlet & Ghost in Saratoga Springs, was won by Matt Ferguson of the hometown tavern 9 Maple. He will go against the winners of the other first-round events in the finals on Friday, March 10, at Takk House, 55 Third Street in Troy.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.


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Update: 9 Maple entry wins initial bartender competition

Matt Ferguson
UPDATE (2/14/17): Matt Ferguson of the Saratoga Springs tavern 9 Maple won the Saratoga edition of Albany Distilling Company's cocktail competition held at Hamlet & Ghost. Three other regional first-round events still are to be held.

(Originally published 12/10/17)

Bartender competitions of various levels of intensity pop up from time to time in this area, but seldom rise to the level of activities in many similarly-sized communities where you get more participants involved. That is about to change.

The U.S. Bartenders Guild Capital Region chapter has created what it is calling the "Albany Distilling Cocktail Competition," with a chance to win $500 in prizes.

First-round competitions will be held in Saratoga Springs, Albany, Troy, and Schenectady. The winner of each of those prelims will move on to the finals.

Competitors and participating bars will be announced at Albany Distilling, 78 Montgomery Street in Albany (adjacent to the Albany Pump Station) on Monday, January 23. The owners also will be providing an in-depth tour and lesson on craft spirits, and offering free tastings, food and giveaways.

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Millbrook Winery offering hands-on 'boot camp' experience

Lollipop Hill at Millbrook Winery
If you're interested in getting deeper into wine -- well beneath the uncorking and tasting -- Millbrook Winery’s "Vine to Wine Boot Camp" offers is an insider’s experience for the adventurous.

As the management team says, "Become part of our winemaking team this season as we challenge you to roll up your sleeves and plunge into grape growing and wine making during our eight-part experiential series. Participants will learn the art of grape growing in the Hudson Valley and tend to their own part of our vineyard, learning hands-on grape growing techniques from a true master, Millbrook's winemaker and vice president, John Graziano."

The class is limited to 20 students. Participants will receive lunch, including a glass of wine, at Millbrook’s Vineyard Grille after each seminar session.

"The program also includes a seat at our annual Tocai Celebration luncheon on May 20 and Harvest Party luncheon on October 14. A final closing luncheon will occur in March 2018 to celebrate the bottling of our 2017 Lollipop Tocai Friulano." Participants also will receive a 12-bottle case of the custom-labeled wine after bottling is completed.

The first session is scheduled for April 8, The cost is enrollment is $795 or $700 for PSR Club members, plus tax. Reservations may be made by calling (845) 677-8383 extension 17. The winery is located at 26 Wing Road in Millbrook, Dutchess County.
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Event reminders

• The 2nd annual "Gathering of the Farm Cideries" at Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany is set for this Saturday. Go here for details from an earlier posting.

• The 8th annual "Mac-n-Cheese Bowl" is scheduled for this Saturday at Siena College's Marcelle Athletic Complex. Go here for details from an earlier posting.

• "Saratoga Beer Week" kicks off next Tuesday, and runs through the following Saturday. The
citywide event will range from specials at individual taverns and restaurants to large public tasting events. Go here for details from an earlier posting.

Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Saturday, February 11, 2017

An updated guide to the beverage trails of New York State


Cover image of the beverage trail website.
The recent news that the fledgling Rochester-Finger Lakes Craft Beverage Trail is getting close to official designation by the state was just the latest example of the burgeoning number of tourism trails dealing with more than wineries.

There are 21 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries on the trail, an informal entity since 2014 but now awaiting an OK by the state Assembly before going to the governor's office for signature.

Keeping up with the many possibilities to visit, with more than 20 trails and hundreds of members spread from Lake Erie on the far west of the state to Montauk Point on the far eastern point of Long Island, can be a daunting task. But, never fear, there is a handy guide to cut through it all.

My recently-updated and redesigned New York State Beverage Trails site offers a complete list of the trails and their members, with live links to individual websites and contact information. Bear in mind, some companies belong to more than one trail, depending on their geographic or product overlaps.
Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Catskill Village considering new sidewalk cafe law

The New York Restaurant in Catskill
The Catskill Village Board this week held a public hearing for input on a proposed sidewalk cafe law while seeking to clarify a variety of aspects involving the community's current open container law.

Village President Heather Bagshaw has contended that the current ordinance has more regulations than necessary, and the community needs to be more business friendly.

The current Village Charter includes an open container law that prohibits people from consuming alcoholic beverages on public property, which includes sidewalks. It was modified last fall to allow sidewalk cafes or restaurants to serve alcohol to their customers outside the business.  That essentially affects two restaurants on Main Street, The New York Restaurant and 394 Main.

The board is looking to allow businesses to set up tables outside anytime the weather is unusually warm, but, Bagshaw said, the village will not allow people to drink alcohol on the streets outside of a restaurant setting.

Other aspects of the discussion include requiring sidewalk cafes to leave at least a 36-inche space on a sidewalk to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act by assuring that someone in a wheelchair can get around a restaurant’s tables and chairs without having to go into the street.

The board will continue to discuss potential changes and accept more input from the community before making any final decision.
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Troubled Buffalo Wild Wings chain to sell 60 restaurants

From Nation's Restaurant News
Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. plans to sell at least 60 restaurants to franchisees and improve margins at others as it works to reinvigorate sales and profits amid mounting shareholder pressure.

The chain Buffalo Wild Wings said during an earnings call this week that it has identified about 10% of company-owned restaurants for refranchising. The company owns 631 of the chain’s 1,200-plus locations. The locations identified for refranchising are in markets where Buffalo Wild Wings doesn’t have enough locations to succeed [but have not been publicly announced].

[The decision comes amid shareholder pressure for the company to improve its financial situation.] ... Buffalo Wild Wings’ sales and profits have struggled. Fourth-quarter net earnings fell 38.2%, while same-store sales declined 4%, the company said. 
The only BWW location in the Greater Capital Region is in the Clifton Park Center shopping complex. Go here for the full story of the company using the simplistic marketing mantra "Wings. Beer. Sports."

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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.


Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook
Go here to visit Notes On Napkins