Saturday, June 24, 2017

Warren-Washington beverage trail awaits Cuomo's signature

If Governor Andrew Cuomo approves, as expected, a bill that passed both house of the State Leguislature before recess, a regional craft beverage and winemaking trail for Warren and Washington counties would be designarrated under a state Department of Transportation (DOT) program.

The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce worked with State Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) on the  bill that each introduced in their respective chambers. What it would entail is placing signs along state roadways directing motorists to craft breweries, wineries and distilleries, as well as including such a trail in the state's advertising and marketing of the craft beverage industry.

The effort was buoyed by Travelocity and The American Distilling Institute recently putting the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area in its new index of top 10 small U.S. metro areas for craft spirits tourism.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bill would make NYS beverage tastings sales-tax-exempt

A bill passed by both houses of the State Legislature has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to
give licensed breweries, distilleries, and cideries the same sales tax exemption for tastings that wineries now have.

The bill would allow the exemption even if vendors he state Senate and Assembly have passed a bill charge for the tasting. Under current law, any wine, beer, cider, or liquor tasting that is provided free of charge is exempt from having to impose the state sales and use tax. However, wineries are granted a sales tax exemption even if they charge for the tasting.

“As the number of breweries and distilleries increases across New York, including many farm-based operations, we must ensure that we provide a level playing field for those in the industry,” said Erie County Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I). “Right now, these businesses don’t enjoy the same sales tax benefits provided to wineries. That’s not fair to them or their customers.”
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Food and drink aplenty on Saratoga Race Course schedule

Eating and drinking often are part of having fun, and the calendar of 40 special  events released today for the upcoming thoroughbred racing season at the Saratoga Race Course proves that once again.

The event schedule from The New York Racing Association Inc. is loaded with food- and drink-centric events, the majority of them to take place in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion.

The schedule includes the expansion of the Taste NY series to four days. The on-track market of New York food, fashion and artisan vendors, previously held exclusively on Sundays, is being expanded to Saturdays. The full schedule (florid descriptions courtesy of the NYRA):

OPENING DAY: Friday, July 21: The 2017 annual summer meet will kick-off with the Grade III Schuylerville and Grade III Lake George.

TASTE NY: CRAFT BEER: Every Friday beginning July 21: Taste NY: Craft Beer will allow track patrons the opportunity to sample numerous craft beers produced exclusively by New York State breweries. The tasting will be held each Friday from noon to 5 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will enjoy five samples for $5. Must be 21 years or older to participate.

WOODFORD RESERVE FRIDAYS AT THE POST: Every Friday beginning July 21: Racing fans will be invited to continue their day at Saratoga with Woodford Reserve Fridays at The Post, the lively bar and entertainment spot located adjacent to the paddock. Each Friday of the meet will feature a DJ and dancing, cocktail samplings and trivia at The Post following the day's final race.

TASTE NY: FOOD & ARTISANS: Every Saturday beginning July 22: An on-track market of numerous food and artisan vendors featuring products made exclusively in New York State. The market will be held each Saturdayfrom 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about NYRA Bets and the all-new NYRA XP mobile app.

KETEL ONE PARTY AT THE POST: Every Saturday beginning July 22: The fun will continue each Saturday of the season with the Ketel One Party at The Post. Saturday evenings at Saratoga will feature music from a DJ following the day's final race, cocktail samplings and giveaways.

26TH ANNUAL HAT CONTEST PRESENTED BY HAT SATIONA! BY DEI: Sunday, July 23: The "crowning" achievement of opening weekend, visitors will go head-to-head for prizes in the annual Hat Contest. Categories will include one designated for children, one for the most fashionable millinery and one for the most creative headwear. The contests will take place after the second, third and fourth races of the afternoon. Prizes are provided by Hat sationa! by DEI.

TASTE NY: FOOD & ARTISANS: Every Sunday beginning July 23: Taste NY: Food & Artisans is a lively on-track market of numerous food and artisan vendors featuring products made exclusively in New York State. The market will be held each Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about NYRA Bets and the all-new NYRA XP mobile app.

BERKSHIRE BANK FAMILY MONDAYS: Every Monday beginning July 24: The Berkshire Bank Family Mondays series will feature a wide variety of family-friendly activities, games, attractions and educational activities each Monday of the meet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion.

CELEBRATE MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY: Wednesday, July 26: Saratoga Race Course will pay tribute to active military members and veterans in appreciation of their sacrifice and service to our nation. The Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion will feature exhibits and activities throughout the day.All veterans and active duty military will receive free Grandstand admission with military ID.

TASTE NY: CIDER, WINE & SPIRITS: Every Thursday beginning July 27: Taste NY: Cider, Wine & Spirits will allow guests the opportunity to sample varietals of cider, wine and spirits from numerous New York State distilleries and wineries. Live music will accompany the tasting each Thursday of the meet from noon to 5 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will enjoy five samples for $5. Must be 21 years or older to participate.

TEQUILA & TACO THURSDAYS: Every Thursday beginning July 27: Each Thursday of the season, guests will enjoy specials on margaritas and tacos at The Post, as well as live flamenco guitar performances following the day's final race.

COLLEGE & ALUMNI DAY: Friday, July 28: This year's College & Alumni Day will feature the first-ever College & Alumni Handicapping Tournament at the Spa. College students and alumni will be invited to test their handicapping skills in a live money tournament for the opportunity to win up to a $5,000 scholarship for their alma mater from the New York Racing Association. Advance registration is required to participate in the tournament. Special group rates are available. To register your group of 10 or more, email rvsvp@nyrainc.com. Registration deadline is July 21.

PERMANENTLY DISABLED JOCKEYS' FUND AWARENESS DAY: Saturday, July 29: Saratoga Race Course will unite with racetracks across the country on Saturday with autograph signings and photo opportunities as part of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund (PDJF) Day Across America.

CELEBRATE IRISH-AMERICAN DAY: Wednesday, August 2: Saratoga will bring racing fans extra luck during Irish-American Day. The day-long celebration of culture and heritage will feature traditional Irish music, dance, food and entertainment at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHITNEY DAY AND THE FASIG-TIPTON FESTIVAL OF RACING: Saturday, August 5: The Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic, will pair with the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for turf fillies and mares on the first "must-see" card of the meet. Also on Saturday are two additional turf stakes: the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure and the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose for fillies and mares.

JOCKEY LEGENDS DAY: Sunday, August 6: Some of the greatest riders in the history of thoroughbred racing will gather at Saratoga Race Course for the fourth annual Jockey Legends Day. The day's activities will feature special appearances by some of the Spa's most accomplished riders and autograph signings.

SARATOGA CHALLENGES: Wednesday, August 9 & Thursday, August 10: The pair of live money challenges will occur as two separate one-day contests and will guarantee a minimum first place payout of $10,000, as well as awarding entries to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge (1) and the National Handicapping Championship (2) to the top three finishers, based on selection by order of finish. Both challenges will consist of wagering exclusively on Saratoga races through the following pools only: Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Quinella, and Trifecta. The entry fee into either challenge is $1,000, with a maximum number of entries at two per day, per person. For more information about the Saratoga Challenges, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/saratoga-challenge.

CELEBRATE BREW CENTRAL NY DAY: Wednesday, August 9: The day-long event in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion will feature activities, exhibits and entertainment which showcase the renaissance of craft beer, hard cider, spirits and wine in Central New York and celebrate the region's history as a prominent hops producer. Guests will enjoy five samples for $5. Must be 21 years or older to participate.

FABULOUS FILLIES DAY: Thursday, August 10: Saratoga Race Course will celebrate women and their contributions to the thoroughbred industry while raising funds to support The Breast Cancer Research Foundation on Fabulous Fillies Day. The centerpiece of the day will be the Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon, presented by Vineyard Vines, beginning with an elegant champagne reception hosted by Moet & Chandon, and featuring gifts provided by Spa Mirbeau. This year's luncheon will honor Sheila Rosenblum of Lady Sheila Stable.

CELEBRATE ADIRONDACKS DAY: Wednesday, August 16: Saratoga Race Course will highlight the majestic Adirondacks region, including the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid. The day-long event at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion will feature activities, exhibits and entertainment which showcase the great attractions of the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

LUSTGARTEN FOUNDATION DAY: Saturday, August 19: Saratoga will honor the legacy of trainer Dominic Galluscio with a day to benefit The Lustgarten Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance scientific and medical research related to pancreatic cancer. The day will feature an autograph session with various Saratoga trainers.

CELEBRATE FIRST RESPONDERS APPRECIATION DAY: Wednesday, August 23: Saratoga Race Course will honor police officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics during First Responders Appreciation Day. The Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion will feature exhibits and activities throughout the day. All first responders will receive free Grandstand admission with proper ID.

STEWART'S ICE CREAM EATING CONTEST: Wednesday, August 23: Racing fans will compete in the ultimate in chilly contests at the annual Stewart's Ice Cream Eating Contest. Contestants will be divided into three age groups - kids, teens and adults - as they battle to see who can eat a pint of ice cream the fastest. Saratoga season passes are currently on sale at nearly 160 Stewart's Shops locations.

NEW YORK SHOWCASE DAY: Friday, August 25: Travers weekend will kick off with New York Showcase Day, featuring six stakes races exclusively for New York-breds, including the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds and the $150,000 West Point, presented by Trustco Bank, on the turf.

TRAVERS DAY: Saturday, August 26: The 148th running of the $1.25 million Travers will be the centerpiece of a supercharged Travers Day. Joining the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds will be five other Grade 1 stakes: the $1 million Sword Dancer Invitational at 1 ½ miles on the turf, the $500,000 Ballerina for filly and mare sprinters, the $600,000 Forego at seven furlongs, the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, formerly known as the King's Bishop, for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the $700,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares.

CELEBRATE ITALIAN-AMERICAN DAY: Wednesday, August 30: The charm and spirit of Italy will come trackside when Saratoga Race Course hosts Italian-American Day. The day-long celebration of Italian culture and heritage will feature traditional Italian music, dance, food, entertainment and games at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

FAN APPRECIATION WEEK: Wednesday, August 30-Monday, September 4: The New York Racing Association will thank its most loyal fans, season pass and season ticket holders, with an exclusive series of special events, activities and offers during closing week of the 2017 season at Saratoga Race Course.

CLOSING DAY: Monday, September 4: The 2017 meet will come to a close with the traditional final feature race, the 113th running of the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds, which affords racing fans a preview of potential standouts in next year's Triple Crown series and Travers.
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Monday, June 19, 2017

For National Tequila Day, a basic guide to Mexican spirits

Sangrita and a tequila sampler (Photo: Bill Dowd)
National Tequila Day this year rolls around this coming Saturday. That will mean many people who never experienced the iconic Mexican spirit will do so for the first time because any smart tavern will have specials available.

Unfortunately, it also means people who had bad tequila experiences while drinking cheap versions as raucous college students will hold their noses and shy away, forgetting that they probably also had bad experiences with beer and vodka back in the day but today still drink them.

So, what to do? How about sharing some basic information the tequila-curious might find helpful before setting out to actually enjoy the spirit?

Here’s a basic guide to all things tequila (and its cousins), with a few pronunciation tips thrown in.

Three foundational requirements under Mexican agricultural law:
1. True tequila must be made 100% from the blue agave plant and distilled only in Mexico’s Jalisco (pronounced hah-LIS-ko) state and certain specified adjoining counties.

2. Tequila 100% Agave: Must be made only with the juice of the blue agave plant and must be bottled at the distillery in Mexico. It may be Blanco, Reposado, or Añejo (ahn-yay-ho).

3. Tequila: Must be made with at least 51% blue agave juices. It may be exported in bulk to be bottled in other countries following the NOM standard. It may be Blanco, Gold, Reposado, or Añejo.
NOM, the official Mexican product safety requirements, defines four types of tequila:
Blanco, or Silver: The traditional tequila. Clear, transparent, fresh from the still. Must be bottled immediately after distillation process. Traditionally served in a cylindrical two-ounce glass called a caballito (kah-bah-yeeto).

Oro, or Gold: Modified by adding colorings and flavorings, caramel the most common. Widely preferred for frozen Margaritas.

Reposado, or Rested: Kept in white oak casks or vats called pipones (pip-oh-nace) for two to 11 months. Much mellower than blanco or oro, pale in color, gentle bouquet.

Añejo, or Aged: Matured in white oak casks for a year or more. Maximum capacity of the casks should not exceed 159 gallons. Amber color, oak notes. Then there is Reserva. Like “Extra Añejo” it is not technically a category, but recognized as an Añejo aged in oak up to eight years.
Here’s a quick rundown on the other Mexican spirits:
Mezcal: The state of Oaxaca (wah-hawk-ah) in south-central Mexico claims this spirit as its own. It’s the result of the fermentation of the native maguey (mag-way) plant by the indigenous people and the distillation techniques introduced by Spaniard conquerors. The unique topography of Oaxaca — at the confluence of three great valleys at an altitude of 6,500 feet — creates a wide variety of growing micro-climates for numerous varieties of the agave variety known as maguey, from the giant pulque (pull-kay) maguey to the maguey tobala from which one of the rarest mezcals is made.

Bacanora: This traditional liquor, mentioned by the earliest Spanish explorers as a native drink, is made in the state of Sonora, which lies below Arizona. It was illegal until about 25 years ago when rules for its manufacture were put into place. It is made from a variety of the agave plant that grows exclusively in Sonora’s climate and terrain. One of what I refer to as “border spirits.”

Sotol: Another “border spirit,” made from a shrub that looks like a bouquet of spiny leaves with fringed tips. It grows in deserts, mountains, and on dry rocky slopes. Its powerful fermented juice is the state drink of Chihuahua state, south of New Mexico. Like tequila and mezcal, it was improved by distilling the original fermentation.

Raicilla: This liquor (pronounced ray-see-yah), widely known as “Mexican moonshine,” now can be found in somewhat more sophisticated varieties as a result of modernization and commercialization. It usually is distilled from a fermented mash made from the roots of the maguey plant. It’s a harsh liquor, 100 proof or higher. Despite its dicey reputation, the tourist haven of Puerto Vallarta thinks enough of it to hold an annual raicilla festival.

Destilado de agave: This spirit is quite similar to tequila, but is brewed outside the state of Jalisco which has 98% of all legal tequila production. As with tequila, it may or may not be made with 100% agave.
Armed with this information, you now have a shopping list and time to fill it as I wish you a happy National Tequila Day.

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At Cornell, big, fat new Concord grape seeking a name

A new breed in search of a name. (Cornell photo)
• From the Cornell Chronicle


Big on flavor, aroma and size, Cornell University’s newest grape lacks one defining feature: a name.

Grape breeder Bruce Reisch spent years developing the grape, and now he’s offering the public the chance to name it. Currently dubbed NY98.0228.02, the grape is a seedless, flavorful berry with the attractive blue coloring of a Concord at nearly double the size. Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the new variety is well adapted to the Northeast, with good cold-tolerance for most of the Eastern states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.

“This grape is the first truly seedless Concord-type and has naturally large, attractive berries,” said Reisch. The Concord has long been an American favorite, known best for its use in grape juice, jellies and jams. “Our new grapes weigh 5 or 6 grams per berry, almost twice the weight of a traditional Concord,” said Reisch. “It’s pretty rare to find a grape that size, especially with such full flavor.”

Reisch hopes the contest will inspire a name as inviting as the grape. Submissions can be made online until July 31. Reisch and his collaborators at Double A Vineyards will decide on their favorites, then present the choices to the public for a final vote in September.

Go here for the full story.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SLA accepting requests for craft beverage production centers

New York State today began accepting applications for the operation of custom craft beverage production centers to provide space and equipment to those looking to produce beer, wine, or cider for home consumption.

The State Liquor Authority (SLA), which oversees the process, will provide new licenses to facilitate production of homemade beer, wine and cider. Licenses are available both to current craft manufacturers seeking to establish a secondary business at their current location, or businesses seeking to open a standalone custom homemade craft beverage production center.

“This new license provides greater opportunity for New Yorkers to make their own beer, wine or cider, while helping to strengthen an already booming craft beverage industry,”Governor Cuomo said in an announcement. “This win-win-win makes it easier for hobby brewers, vintners and cider makers to hone their craft, while offering beverage manufacturers a new source of revenue that in turn helps New York farms succeed and thrive.”

It was on November 14, 2016, that the governor signed legislation creating the new license that authorizes production centers where craft beverage enthusiasts, hobbyists and other amateur brewers, vintners and cider makers can utilize the expertise, space and equipment of existing facilities to produce craft beverages for personal consumption.

New York’s craft beverage industry is one of the fastest growing in the nation, however in urban and suburban areas, residents often cannot afford or do not have access to the appropriate space or equipment to manufacture products at home. In addition to providing space and lowering the overhead costs, the new production centers also will increase demand for locally grown ingredients, generate revenue for New York’s small craft manufacturers and provide expert hands-on training for hobbyists and those exploring joining the growing ranks of craft producers across the state.

Downloadable application forms are available online.

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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.

 

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pushback on brewers' tasting rooms may hurt craft movement

From Forbes.com
Grumblings are growing louder and legislation that limits direct beer sales out of tasting rooms is getting passed.[around the country] ...

Though breweries work in partnership with their distributors and retailers, they also compete against them when they construct tasting rooms and pubs that might draw hundreds of customers every day of the week.
Go here for the story.
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New Lake George Beer Hub is in full operation

• From NYupstate.com
By Don Cazentre
QUEENSBURY -- A big new "beer hub" is gearing up this summer to boost growth for two breweries in different parts of Upstate New York.

The Lake George Beer Hub is in the town of Queensbury between Lake George and Glens Falls. It's producing beers for two separate breweries -- Cooperstown Brewing Co., of Milford near Cooperstown, and Davidson Brothers Brewing Co., founded in Glens Falls.

The hub -- with a big brewhouse and tasting room -- was built by Davidson Brothers in 2014. It now is owned and operated by a third company, Northern Eagle Beverages, a beer distributor located in Oneonta. Old Slugger Pale Ale from Cooperstown Brewing Co., produced at the Lake George Beer Hub. Old Slugger Pale Ale from Cooperstown Brewing Co., produced at the Lake George Beer Hub. ...

"The bottom line is we can produce more beer for both Cooperstown and Davidson Brothers and better manage the production efficiently (at the beer hub)," said George Allen, Northern Eagle's president. The Lake George Beer Hub had its grand opening last week.
Go here for the full story.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Update: Barge-shipped beer tanks to be delivered Saturday

Fermentation tanks en route to Rochester.
UPDATE (6/2/17): The first shipment of Chinese-manufactured beer fermentation tanks measuring 20 feet wide by 60 feet tall today was sitting on an Erie Canal lock just outside the suburban  Rochester town of Gates. They are on schedule for delivery, and are expected to be loaded onto flatbed truck on Saturday and moved five miles to their destination, the Genesee Brewing Company in downtown Rochester.

Despite media and public interest in the project, several state and local politicians have expressed displeasure with the brewery using state economic development funding for the purchase of tanks they claim could have been made in-state. Go here for that story.

(Originally published 5/22/17)

HEADLINE: Beer fermentation tanks moving via the Erie Canal

Even the weakest student of geography knows it's a shorter distance from China to Rochester if you don't go by way of Albany (and if you're traveling the traditional easterly route). But, it's a different story if you're delivering beer fermentation tanks.

The first three of a dozen 20-by-60-foot tanks being shipped from the manufacturer in China to the Genesee Brewing Company in downtown Rochester is now on the way. Their first domestic stop was at the Port of Albany, where they were placed on barges because they are too large for conventional movement by rail or truck. Then it was goodbye high tech, and hello Erie Canal.

The barge passed through the Waterford locks at the eastern terminus of the waterway just off the Hudson River opposite Troy on Friday. The westbound trip had temporarily been delayed by a high water level caused by heavy rains.

The tanks are part of Genesee Brewing's $40 million expansion project. If you're interested in tracking -- and maybe observing -- any of the trip as some people have been doing, here's the schedule for the first shipment of tanks:
May 23: Tanks will proceed to Niskayuna to Scotia to Rotterdam Junction/Glenville to Cranesville to Amsterdam to Tribes Hill

May 24: Tribes Hill to Randall to Canajoharie to Fort Plain to Mindenville
May 25: Mindenville to Little Falls to Frankfort to Utica

May 26: Utica to Rome to New London

May 27: New London to Brewerton to Baldwinsville

May 28: Baldwinsville to Mays Point to Clyde to Lyons

May 29/30: Lyons to Newark to Palmyra to Macedon to Pittsford to Henrietta; Tanks arrive at 150 Lee Road in Rochester
By way of comparison with the $40 million project, the idea of the 363-mile-long Erie Canal was authorized in 1817 by the New York State Legislature with a  budget of $7 million. It was completed in 1825.

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Dept. of Don't Believe Everything You Read


This screen grab is from a promo of a story published in the UK newspaper The Daily Mail. Admittedly, tequila may not be THE liquor of choice in the UK, but the editors there should know there is no such thing as a "tequila plant." That's like calling barley a "Scotch whisky plant." The iconic Mexican beverage is distilled from roasted hearts of the blue agave plant.

Here's what the story actually is about.

Naturally-occuring sugars in the agave plant, called agavins, have been shown in test using laboratory mice to help lose weight and fight diabetes, according to a newly-released study presented to the American Chemical Society.

Thus, the potential exists to create a new sweetener to be used in diets for obese people and sufferers of type 2 diabetes. The key words being "mice" and "potential."

Agavins are non-digestible, and may help make people feel fuller so they might eat less; i.e., they act a dietary fiber and will raise blood sugar, according Dr. Mercedes G. López, who carried out the research.

“We believe that agavins have a great potential as light sweeteners since they are sugars, highly soluble, have a low glycemic index, and a neutral taste, but most important, they are not metabolized by humans. Agavins are not expensive and have no known side effects, except for those few people who cannot tolerate them," Lopez said.

An important cautionary note: This is the only known study on the topic, so it has  not yet had peer confirmation, and anyone with diabetes needs to be extremely careful about alcohol consumption.

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Celebri-Quote: Richard Overton

Richard Overton is 111 years old and a celebrity in Texas or anywhere else our military veterans are revered. Here's a bit of a story about him published in the Dallas News on a day he was sitting his porch in Austin, puffing one of the dozen or so cigars he smokes each day.

On Richard Overton's 111th birthday on May 11, the town renamed his street [in his honor]. Some 200 people came out for the party on his front lawn, lining up to take a photo with Overton like kids waiting to meet Santa Claus.

Many brought gifts, like fancy cigars and bottles of whiskey. That’s his drink of choice -- a whiskey and Coke -- and when his caretakers are pouring, it’s always more Coke than whiskey. His cousins estimate he received more than 40 bottles that day, now dispersed throughout his home in kitchen cabinets, a bedroom closet and dresser drawers. ...

He’s sitting in a lawn chair on the front porch of the Austin home he built nearly 70 years ago, working on his fifth Tampa Sweet cigar on a 91-degree sunny day. The smooth tunes of the Isley Brothers flow from a portable speaker. Birds are chirping in the late afternoon breeze.
“I’m feeling pretty good today,” Overton says, emphasizing the word pretty, because any day spent on this porch smoking cigars is a pretty good day for the 111-year-old.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fort Orange Brewing post tops May readership list

My guest mixologist
What posts did readers of "Dowd On Drinks" like most in May? My report on the latest local craft brewery proposal topped 'em all by a large factor.

The post titled In-development Fort Orange Brewing embraces local history (5/11) was far and away the most-read post, attracting about 300 more views than the second most-read post, the also-well-read Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival this weekend.

"Dowd On Drinks" readers' interests appear as eclectic as the blog content that ranges from local to international items across the adult beverage spectrum. The most-read items including product reviews, hard-news items, event announcements and a bit of snark (hint: see No. 5).

Here are 3 through 10. If you missed any of them and are interested, just click on the links to go there.

3. Tasting: Beauregard Dixie Southern Vodka
4. Tasting: Kung Fu Girl Riesling
5. When news breaks ...  (5/8)
6. New pact tightens tequila identification requirements
7. Bombay Sapphire: A case of accidental overproofing
8. Update: Argyle Brewing opens its second tasting room today
9. Hard cider brew fest planned in Steuben County
10. Anthony Road entry goes gold in French competition
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Riesling and beer event morphs into NY State Wine Festival

If you attended the last Finger Lakes Riesling & Craft Beer Festival, yes you did. The "last," that is.

The event, scheduled for the weekend of August 12-13 in Canandaigua, has been rebranded. It  now is known as the New York State Wine Festival. Among the changes:
• The emphasis will be on a variety of wines from across the state, not just Rieslings from the region.

• The craft beer element has been dropped.

• The Canandaigua City Pier no longer will be used as part of the festival venue, hosted by the adjacent New York Wine & Culinary Center.

• Wine-centric cooking demonstrations by Wine & Culinary Center chefs have been added to the schedule.
“Wine is so tightly woven into the fabric of the state and the people who live here, so this event will do more to recognize that incredible depth of passion,” said Lauren Dixon, CEO of Dixon Schwabl, which produces the event.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online. While they also will be available at the gate on the days of the festival, they will be on a cash-only basis.

The Wine & Culinary Center is located at 800 South Main Street on the lakeshore.
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Sports bar/restaurant plans to be reviewed by Troy panel

A sports bar in the making (Google photo)
The onetime site of the restaurant Badass Burrito in Troy's Lansingburgh section that closed in 2011 may come back to life in 2017.

Jeff Jackson, a resident of Galway, Saratoga County, has applied to the city Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for what is known as a "major area variance" for parking as part of a proposal to turn the vacant former restaurant at 443 Fifth Avenue into a sports bar/restaurant.

The request is on the ZBA agenda for its meeting scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, in the Planning Department hearing room of City Hall, 433 River Street.
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Monday, May 29, 2017

Nation's largest 2-day foodfest, Taste of Buffalo, staying big

The 34th annual Taste of Buffalo shows no signs of surrendering its status as the nation's largest two-day food festival. Organizers of the July 8-9 weekend event have just announced a lineup of 61 food and wine options, the most ever.

The Taste of Buffalo, presented by Tops markets on downtown's Niagara Square, has a volunteer force of more than 1,000 people prepping and running an event that usually attracts en estimated 450,000 visitors.

“Each restaurant will serve a 'healthy option' with fewer calories, less sodium and fat, as well as a smaller 'Taste' portion of their signature menu items," said event chairman Ralph Basile. "Our hope is that you can try more food at a variety of restaurants without filling up too fast.”

In addition to a lengthy lineup of returning vendors, there are 14 new restaurants and two new wineries on the list. Live music and other entertainment will be part of the festival. Full details on admission, reserved parking, event schedules and other details are available online.
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Buffalo brewer creates signature beer for restaurant group

Here's a good example of synergy.

A Buffalo area brewery is partnering with a bi-coastal restaurant group to make a signature beer for sale in its New York State restaurants.

42 North Brewing Company is brewing Cayuga Wheat, using New York State wheat malt and the Cayuga grape, which is native to the state.

The beer was first served at Patina 250, the group's restaurant in the Delaware North building in downtown Buffalo, headquarters of the Delaware North Co. which has a majority interest in the Patina Restaurant Group.

With the expanded distribution, Cayuga Wheat now is available on tap in Patina restaurants in New York City at Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and elsewhere. It also is available at Patina 250 and 42 North's taproom at the brewery in East Aurora.

Overall, Patina has 57 upscale restaurants in New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, and Japan.
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Double Golds scarce in NY International Spirits Competition

Judging was stringent in the 8th annual New York International Spirits Competition. Unlike some adult beverage competitions that bestow a veritable tsunami of medals, despite 600 submissions from 23 countries in more than 50 categories, only six Double Gold medals were awarded in three categories.

They were:
Whiskey -- Basil Hayden Rye Whiskey (Kentucky), Speyburn Bradan Orach (Scotland), Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish (South Africa)
Cognac -- Maxime Trijol XO, Maxime Trijol VSOP (Saint Martial Sur Ne, France)
Rum -- Balcone’s Texas Rum (Waco, TX)
 Awards in categories by state for New York entries:
New York Bourbon of the Year -- Hudson Whiskey Baby Bourbon (Tuthilltown Spirits of Ulster County)
New York City Distillery of the Year -- Van Brunt Stillhouse (Brooklyn)
Soju Producer of the Year -- West 32 (New York City)
The full list of award winners in all categories is available online.
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Cortland County distillery unveils a line of whiskey slushies

Dragonfyre slushy machine (Facebook photo)
Some time ago, I attempted to get an update on pending legislation involving the serving size of wine ice cream in New York, apparently a matter of the usual governmental nanny state restrictions. I was unable to get any information from the members of both houses of the New York State Legislature supposedly trying to amend the rules. More on that in a bit.

Apparently there are no rigid restrictions on using whiskey in another type of food, if one considers slushies actual food. The Dragonfyre Distillery in Marathon, Cortland County, today announced it will be making and selling whiskey slushies this summer.

"BREAKING NEWS! The slushy machine is here!!! ," trumpeted Dragonfyre's Facebook message. "We will be serving whiskey slushys from now on! What's your preference?
Strawberry Daiquiri
Arnold Palmers
Pina Cola da
Blueberry pomegranate
Prohibition Moon
Apple Moon
Let us know what you want, this is just the "short" list!"

Now, back to the topic of wine ice cream.

Back on March 22, I reported that "The State Senate today approved S4265, a bill introduced by Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-47), to allow a change in the portion size of wine ice cream. The current minimum container size is one pint. Griffo, the deputy senate majority whip, seeks to meet what he says is consumer demand for smaller containers of wine ice cream for weddings, fundraisers, recreational tours, etc. A companion bill that needs to be passed next is being introduced in the Assembly by William Magee (D-121), chairman of the Agriculture Committee. New York is the only state with minimum size requirements."

Since then, I have tried to find out the status of the proposal. A call to Griffo's office was unproductive because the staffer who answered my call had no idea what I was talking about, even though it is his boss's legislation. Even worse at Magee's office, where a promised return phone call has not materialized and an emailed inquiry has been ignored.

Which leads me to suspect that, even though this is a small matter in the larger universe of governance and therefore beneath the legislators' purportedly pushing it, we will see during the next election cycle some reference to this "consumer friendly" effort that both legislators suddenly will remember they have attached their names to.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Study: Wine consumption may raise breast cancer risk

The only sure thing about a study is that another study will come along to refute it ... until another comes along to refute the refutation.

The latest pronouncement concerns wine and health. For years now, we've been told that some consumption  of red wines will impart good health via the chemical resveratrol they contain. Now, a study just released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund says a daily glass or more of wine, or any other alcoholic beverage increases the chances of contracting breast cancer.

It's a fairly thorough study that reviewed  and analyzed 119 studies that used data from 12 million women worldwide. It  found that 10 grams of alcohol per day, the equivalent of one small glass of wine, beer or other alcohol, is linked to a heightened breast cancer risk of 5% for pre-menopausal and 9% for post-menopausal women.

Anne McTiernan, a cancer-prevention researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and one of the report’s lead authors, said, "This suggests there is no level of alcohol use that is completely safe in terms of breast cancer. If a woman is drinking, it would be better if she kept it to a lower amount.”

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival this weekend

Thirty makers of wine, spirits, ciders, meads and beers from New York and Massachusetts will be featured at the 5th annual Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival this weekend.

The event, sponsored by the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail, will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. In addition to the beverage samplings, vendors will offer tastings and sale of cheeses, baked goods, jams, jellies and other regionally produced foods. Exhibitors and artisans will have booths, and seminars will be presented by experts from all parts of the craft beverage industry.

A one-day tasting ticket, available at the gate or online for $25, includes admission, souvenir tasting glass and unlimited wines, ciders and spirits. Non-tasting tickets are $10, and children 12 and younger are admitted free.

The fairgrounds are located at 182 Hudson Avenue, Chatham, with the festival entrance on Route 66.

The beverage vendors:
  • Adirondack Winery
  • Awestruck-Gravity Ciders
  • Brookview Station Winery
  • Cascade Mountain Winery
  • Furnace Brook Winery
  • Helderberg Meadworks
  • Hudson-Chatham Winery
  • ​Hummingbird Hills Winery
  • ​Idol Ridge Winery
  • ​Ledge Rock Hill Winery
  • ​Les Trois Emme
  • Milea Estate Vineyard
  • Montezuma Winery
  • Pazdar Winery
  • Sun Dog Cider
  • ​Tousey Winery
  • Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
  • Whitecliff Winery
  • ​Yankee Folly Cidery
  • ​Warwick Valley - Docs Draft Cider
  • Berkshire Mt. Distillers
  • ​Blackdirt Distilling
  • Dutch's Spirits
  • Harvest Spirits
  • ​High Rock Distillery
  • Hillrock Estate Distillery
  • Hudson Valley Distillers
  • Lake George Distilling Company
  • ​Olde York Farm Distillery
  • Old Klaverack Brewery

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Beer fermentation tanks moving via the Erie Canal

Fermentation tanks en route to Rochester.

Even the weakest student of geography knows it's a shorter distance from China to Rochester if you don't go by way of Albany (and if you're traveling the traditional easterly route). But, it's a different story if you're delivering beer fermentation tanks.

The first three of a dozen 20-by-60-foot tanks being shipped from the manufacturer in China to the Genesee Brewing Company in downtown Rochester is now on the way. Their first domestic stop was at the Port of Albany, where they were placed on barges because they are too large for conventional movement by rail or truck. Then it was goodbye high tech, and hello Erie Canal.

The barge passed through the Waterford locks at the eastern terminus of the waterway just off the Hudson River opposite Troy on Friday. The westbound trip had temporarily been delayed by a high water level caused by heavy rains.

The tanks are part of Genesee Brewing's $40 million expansion project. If you're interested in tracking -- and maybe observing -- any of the trip as some people have been doing, here's the schedule for the first shipment of tanks:
May 23: Tanks will proceed to Niskayuna to Scotia to Rotterdam Junction/Glenville to Cranesville to Amsterdam to Tribes Hill

May 24: Tribes Hill to Randall to Canajoharie to Fort Plain to Mindenville
May 25: Mindenville to Little Falls to Frankfort to Utica

May 26: Utica to Rome to New London

May 27: New London to Brewerton to Baldwinsville

May 28: Baldwinsville to Mays Point to Clyde to Lyons

May 29/30: Lyons to Newark to Palmyra to Macedon to Pittsford to Henrietta; Tanks arrive at 150 Lee Road in Rochester
By way of comparison with the $40 million project, the idea of the 363-mile-long Erie Canal was authorized in 1817 by the New York State Legislature with a  budget of $7 million. It was completed in 1825.

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New alcohol study: Other studies full of flaws

From the New York Daily News
There’s no shortage of studies claiming that moderate wine drinkers have healthier hearts. Same goes for light consumption of other sorts of alcohol. But a new deep research dive into the topic basically says to put a cork in it. Investigators found little evidence to support the earlier booze-is-good-for-you findings.

That’s the takeaway of a new study in the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs. Researchers sifted through 45 previous studies and found flaws in the methodology.
Go here for the full story.
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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 



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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Newburgh Brewing's taproom gets No.1 nod in NY online poll

The Newburgh Brewing Company taproom (photo provided)
Rankings are, as one might put it somewhat less crudely than usual, like rectal orifices. Everyone has one. The latest in New York State's beer world is a list of "best" taprooms by the influential website RateBeer.com.

The Newburgh Brewing Company was voted the "top tap room" in New York State in an online poll. As we all know by now, while online polls are popular, they are fraught with statistical inaccuracies. Nevertheless, they do offer some measure of popularity.
Christopher Basso

The brewery has been around only since 2012. Its top-selling product is a cream ale, one of its four original beers. It is made by brewmaster Christopher Basso, a graduate of both Boston University and the French Culinary Institute who began his brewing career at the Brooklyn Brewery.

The taproom is located in the brewery facility at 85 Colden Street in Newburgh, a block west of  the Hudson River. Hours: Wednesday, 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight. Saturday, noon to midnight. Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. (kitchen closes at 4 p.m.)

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

2 brewers tie for win in Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge

UPDATE 3 (5/18/17): There is no winner in the inaugural Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge. There are two. Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown and Roscoe Beer Co. of Sullivan County tied for top honors among from among five finalists at the tasetoff Wednesday night in Manhattan. The others were the Genesee Brewing Co. of Rochester, Prison City Pub & Brewery of Auburn, and Southern Tier Brewing Company of Chautauqua County.

UPDATE 2 (5/15/17): The office of Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced the top five finalists in the inaugural Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge. The winner will be chosen Wednesday. The finalists, listed alphabetically: Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown;  Genesee Brewing Company, Rochester; Prison City Pub & Brewery, Auburn;  Roscoe Beer Company, Roscoe; Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood.

UPDATE (5/13/17): Well, now we know who else will be on the judging panel for the Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge recently announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The first person the guv appointed was himself. On Friday, he revealed who will be joining him -- former Buffalo Bills football star Thurman Thomas, who owns a bar at the Batavia Downs horse track; celebrity chef Mario Batali; Noah Kaufman, an editor at Food and Wine magazine, and Anne Becerra, a writer and beer director for the Treadwell Park beer hall in New York City. 

(Originally published 5/3/17)

Every one of the state's 321 craft breweries has its fans, so it will be interesting to see how large voter turnout is for the "Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge." That's the latest state government effort under its Taste NY program advocating for the state's food and beverage producers.

Then public will decide which five breweries make it into a taste-off by filling out an online ballot. Then, on a June date to be announced a judging panel led by Governor Andrew Cuomo will conduct a blind taste in Ndew York City and select a winner.

News of the contest comes right on the heels of the 20th annual TAP NY competition at Hunter Mountain, an event that decrees the best brewers and brews in the state. It has nothing to do with the Taste NY program.

If you need a refresher course on the many breweries located in the Greater Capital and environs, here is a list. I keep the geographic definition rather loose, given the propensity of people in this area to travel a bit to attend the many drinks and food shows and festivals with which it abounds. Thus, certain nearby parts of the Adirondacks, Catskills and Cooperstown area are include.
  1. Adirondack Pub & Brewery, 33 Canada Street, Lake George
  2. Argyle Brewing, One Main Street, Greenwich
  3. Artisinal Brew Works, 41 Geyser Road, Saratoga Springs 
  4. Battle Hill Brewing Co., 4 Charles Street, Fort Ann
  5. Beer Diviner, 461 Broadway, Troy, and 243 Bly Hollow Road, Petersburg
  6. Big Slide Brewery & Public House, 5686 Cascade Road, Lake Placid 
  7. Big Tupper Brewing, 12 Cliff Avenue, Tupper Lake
  8. Brewery LaHoff, 50 Vedder Road, Coxsackie (to open this year)
  9. Brewery Ommegang, 656 County Highway 33, Cooperstown
  10. Brown's Brewing Co., 417 River Street, Troy, and 50 Factory Hill Road, North Hoosick
  11. Cave Mountain Brewing Co., 5359 State Route 23, Windham
  12. Chatham Brewing, 59 Main Street, Chatham
  13. C.H. Evans Brewing/Albany Pump Station, 19 Quackenbush Square, Albany
  14. Common Roots Brewing Co., 58 Saratoga Avenue, South Glens Falls
  15. Cooper's Cave Ale Co., 2 Sagamore Street, Glens Falls
  16. Cooperstown Brewing Co., 110 River Street, Milford  
  17. Council Rock Brewery, 4861 State Highway 28, Cooperstown
  18. Crossroads Brewing Co., 21 Second Street, Athens
  19. Davidson Brothers Brewing Co., 184 Glen Street, Glens Falls
  20. Druthers, 381 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, and 1053 Broadway, Albany
  21. Dutch Ale House, 255 Main Street, Saugerties
  22. Great Adirondack Brewing Co., 2442 Main Street, Lake Placid
  23. Great Flats Brewing, 151 Lafayette Street, Schenectady (to open this year)
  24. Green Wolf Brewing, 315 Main Street, Middleburgh
  25. Hank Hudson Brewing, The Fairways of Halfmoon, 17 Johnson Road, Mechanicville
  26. Helderberg Brewery, Carey Institute for Global Good, 100 Pond Hill Road, Rensselaerville 
  27. Helderberg Mountain Brewing Co., 141 Warners Lake Road, East Berne
  28. Honey Hollow Brewing Co., 376 East Honey Hollow Road, Earlton
  29. Hudson Brewing Co., 99 South 3rd Street, Hudson
  30. Indian Ladder Farmstead Brewery and Cidery, 342 Altamont-Voorheesville Road, Altamont
  31. Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, 813 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid  
  32. Mad Jack Brewing, The Van Dyck Lounge,237 Union Street, Schenectady
  33. Mean Max Brew Works, 193 Glen Street, Glens Falls
  34. Olde Saratoga Brewing Co., 131 Excelsior Avenue, Saratoga Springs 
  35. Paradox Brewery, 154 Route 9, Schroon Lake 
  36. Racquette River Brewing, 11 Balsam Street, Tupper Lake,
  37. Rare Form Brewing Co., 90 Congress Street, Troy  
  38. Real McCoy Beer Co., 20 Hallwood Road, Delmar
  39. Red Shed Brewery, 817 Butterbowl Road, Cherry Valley
  40. Rip Van Winkle Brewing, Angela's Italian Bistro & Brewery, 4545 NY Route 32, Catskill
  41. R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery, 3602 County Route 30, Salem
  42. Serious Brewing Co., 116 Caverns Road, Howes Cave
  43. Shmaltz Brewing Co., 6 Fairchild Square, Clifton Park
  44. Sloop Brewing, 1065 County Route 19, Elizaville
  45. S&S Farm Brewery, 174 Middle Road, Nassau
  46. Steadfast Beer Co., 90 State Street, Albany
  47. Suarez Family Brewery, 2278 Route 9, Livingston
  48. Wolf Hollow Brewing Co., 6882 Amsterdam Road, Glenville

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

'Bounty of the Hudson' festival coming up in June

Fans of Hudson Valley wines, or anyone looking for a first exposure to them, will find more than 20 wineries represented at the annual "Bounty of the Hudson" next month.

The rain-or-shine, festival style event is set for Saturday and Sunday, June 10-11, at the Ulster County Fairgrounds.

In addition to wine tastings, it offer samplings of fresh local produce, cheeses, honey, baked goods and foods from local restaurants.

Tickets, available online, cover a souvenir Shawangunk Wine Trail glass, sampling at each of the attending wineries' booths, and an afternoon of live music. The event, open only to persons 21 or older, will run from noon to 5 p.m. both days. A one-day tasting ticket, good for either Saturday OR Sunday, is $30 purchased in advance, plus fees. A limited number of tickets will be available at the gate for $40, including tax. A general admission ticket for designated drivers is available in advance for $10, plus fees and at the gate for $15, including fees. Each ticket is valid for one day of the event.

The Ulster County Fairgrounds is located at 249 Libertyville Road in New Paltz.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

30+ makers to offer tastings at Brattleboro Brewers Festival

More than 30 brewers of beers and cider have signed up to participate in the 6th annual Brattleboro (VT) Brewers Festival set for the May 27.

In addition to more than 100 different brews for sampling, live music, various food vendors, and a line of prizes and raffles will be included.

The outdoor event will be held rain or shine at VABEC Field off Old Guilford Road in Brattleboro. Parking will be available at the Brattleboro Union High School on Fairgrounds Road, with   shuttles running all day.  The only parking at the event is for drivers with a handicap parking permit.

Early bird ticket sales, priced at $25 online only, end this Wednesday. Other ticket information is on the same site.

The participating brewers:
  • 14th Star Brewing
  • Allagash Brewing Co.
  • Amherst Brewing
  • Angry Orchard Cider
  • Brown's Brewing Co.
  • Champlain Orchards Cidery
  • Citizen Cider
  • Downeast Cider House
  • Element Brewing Co.
  • Foolproof Brewing
  • Goodwater Brewery
  • Hermit Thrush Brewery
  • Jack's Abby
  • Long Trail
  • Lord Hobo Brewing
  • Magic Hat
  • Matt & Harry's Hard Cider
  • New Belgium Brewery
  • Northshire Brewery
  • Queen City Brewery
  • Samuel Adams
  • Switchback Brewery
  • The People's Pint
  • The Traveler Beer Company
  • Trout River Brewing Co.
  • Truly Spiked & Sparkling
  • Two Roads Brewing Co.
  • Von Trapp Brewing
  • Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery
  • Woodchuck Hard Cider
  • Woodstock Inn Brewery

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Upper HV Wine Trail plans 'Wine & Cheese Weekend'

The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail's summer season will get into high gear with a "Wine & Cheese Weekend" on Saturday and Sunday, June 10-11.

The event is an exclusive one for UHVWT Passport holders. Details on how to instantly get a passport are available online.

Each participating winery will offer three wine tastes paired with three cheese samples, the combinations varying from venue to venue. The participants:
  • Adirondack Winery 285 Canada Street, Lake George
  • Amorici Vineyard, 637 Colonel Burch Road, Valley Falls
  • Ledge Rock Hill Winery, 41 Stewart Dam Road, Corinth
  • Oliva Vineyards, Saratoga Farmers’ Market, 105 High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs
  • Swedish Hill Winery, 441 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
  • The Saratoga Winery 462 Route 29, Saratoga Springs
  • Thirsty Owl Outlet & Wine Garden, 184 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs
  • Victory View Vineyard, 11975 State Route 40, Schaghticoke
The self-guided tour can begin at any of the venues, and include as many stops as desired.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Update 2: 5 Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge finalists picked

UPDATE 2 (5/15/17): The office of Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced the top five finalists in the inaugural Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge. The winner will be chosen Wednesday. The finalists, listed alphabetically: Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown;  Genesee Brewing Company, Rochester; Prison City Pub & Brewery, Auburn;  Roscoe Beer Company, Roscoe; Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood.

UPDATE (5/13/17): Well, now we know who else will be on the judging panel for the Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge recently announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The first person the guv appointed was himself. On Friday, he revealed who will be joining him -- former Buffalo Bills football star Thurman Thomas, who owns a bar at the Batavia Downs horse track; celebrity chef Mario Batali; Noah Kaufman, an editor at Food and Wine magazine, and Anne Becerra, a writer and beer director for the Treadwell Park beer hall in New York City. 

(Originally published 5/3/17)

Every one of the state's 321 craft breweries has its fans, so it will be interesting to see how large voter turnout is for the "Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge." That's the latest state government effort under its Taste NY program advocating for the state's food and beverage producers.

Then public will decide which five breweries make it into a taste-off by filling out an online ballot. Then, on a June date to be announced a judging panel led by Governor Andrew Cuomo will conduct a blind taste in Ndew York City and select a winner.

News of the contest comes right on the heels of the 20th annual TAP NY competition at Hunter Mountain, an event that decrees the best brewers and brews in the state. It has nothing to do with the Taste NY program.

If you need a refresher course on the many breweries located in the Greater Capital and environs, here is a list. I keep the geographic definition rather loose, given the propensity of people in this area to travel a bit to attend the many drinks and food shows and festivals with which it abounds. Thus, certain nearby parts of the Adirondacks, Catskills and Cooperstown area are include.
  1. Adirondack Pub & Brewery, 33 Canada Street, Lake George
  2. Argyle Brewing, One Main Street, Greenwich
  3. Artisinal Brew Works, 41 Geyser Road, Saratoga Springs 
  4. Battle Hill Brewing Co., 4 Charles Street, Fort Ann
  5. Beer Diviner, 461 Broadway, Troy, and 243 Bly Hollow Road, Petersburg
  6. Big Slide Brewery & Public House, 5686 Cascade Road, Lake Placid 
  7. Big Tupper Brewing, 12 Cliff Avenue, Tupper Lake
  8. Brewery LaHoff, 50 Vedder Road, Coxsackie (to open this year)
  9. Brewery Ommegang, 656 County Highway 33, Cooperstown
  10. Brown's Brewing Co., 417 River Street, Troy, and 50 Factory Hill Road, North Hoosick
  11. Cave Mountain Brewing Co., 5359 State Route 23, Windham
  12. Chatham Brewing, 59 Main Street, Chatham
  13. C.H. Evans Brewing/Albany Pump Station, 19 Quackenbush Square, Albany
  14. Common Roots Brewing Co., 58 Saratoga Avenue, South Glens Falls
  15. Cooper's Cave Ale Co., 2 Sagamore Street, Glens Falls
  16. Cooperstown Brewing Co., 110 River Street, Milford  
  17. Council Rock Brewery, 4861 State Highway 28, Cooperstown
  18. Crossroads Brewing Co., 21 Second Street, Athens
  19. Davidson Brothers Brewing Co., 184 Glen Street, Glens Falls
  20. Druthers, 381 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, and 1053 Broadway, Albany
  21. Dutch Ale House, 255 Main Street, Saugerties
  22. Great Adirondack Brewing Co., 2442 Main Street, Lake Placid
  23. Great Flats Brewing, 151 Lafayette Street, Schenectady (to open this year)
  24. Green Wolf Brewing, 315 Main Street, Middleburgh
  25. Hank Hudson Brewing, The Fairways of Halfmoon, 17 Johnson Road, Mechanicville
  26. Helderberg Brewery, Carey Institute for Global Good, 100 Pond Hill Road, Rensselaerville 
  27. Helderberg Mountain Brewing Co., 141 Warners Lake Road, East Berne
  28. Honey Hollow Brewing Co., 376 East Honey Hollow Road, Earlton
  29. Hudson Brewing Co., 99 South 3rd Street, Hudson
  30. Indian Ladder Farmstead Brewery and Cidery, 342 Altamont-Voorheesville Road, Altamont
  31. Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, 813 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid  
  32. Mad Jack Brewing, The Van Dyck Lounge,237 Union Street, Schenectady
  33. Mean Max Brew Works, 193 Glen Street, Glens Falls
  34. Olde Saratoga Brewing Co., 131 Excelsior Avenue, Saratoga Springs 
  35. Paradox Brewery, 154 Route 9, Schroon Lake 
  36. Racquette River Brewing, 11 Balsam Street, Tupper Lake,
  37. Rare Form Brewing Co., 90 Congress Street, Troy  
  38. Real McCoy Beer Co., 20 Hallwood Road, Delmar
  39. Red Shed Brewery, 817 Butterbowl Road, Cherry Valley
  40. Rip Van Winkle Brewing, Angela's Italian Bistro & Brewery, 4545 NY Route 32, Catskill
  41. R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery, 3602 County Route 30, Salem
  42. Serious Brewing Co., 116 Caverns Road, Howes Cave
  43. Shmaltz Brewing Co., 6 Fairchild Square, Clifton Park
  44. Sloop Brewing, 1065 County Route 19, Elizaville
  45. S&S Farm Brewery, 174 Middle Road, Nassau
  46. Steadfast Beer Co., 90 State Street, Albany
  47. Suarez Family Brewery, 2278 Route 9, Livingston
  48. Wolf Hollow Brewing Co., 6882 Amsterdam Road, Glenville

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