Capital Region’s Craft Beverage Industry Is Brewing
8 Counties House 90+ Breweries, Distilleries, Cideries and Wineries
Five years after New York State launched an initiative to expand its ranks of craft beverage producers through the introduction of a license for farm breweries and later for farm cideries, that industry is thriving in the Capital Region. In fact, throughout the eight counties there are 59 breweries and distilleries as well as 32 wineries and cideries, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) tally of active license data from the New York State Liquor Authority.
In sum, as of late October, there were more than 90 unique craft alcoholic beverage producers with active licenses in the Capital Region. Craft beverage licenses are also pending for several more producers throughout the region. New York’s farm brewery license law was enacted in October 2012, and the farm cidery license law was enacted in October 2013. Legislation reducing the regulatory burdens imposed on farm wineries was earlier enacted in July 2011. (Note: Joint brewery/distillery and cidery/winery operations are not double counted in these totals. Counts do not distinguish between farm and nonfarm operations).
In the Capital Region, Saratoga and Warren counties were tied for the most breweries (5), and Columbia County had the most distilleries (8). Saratoga County had the most wineries (8) and Columbia County had the most cideries (3). The Capital Region’s craft beverage producers have been pioneers in New York State. For example, Ledge Rock Hill Winery was the first winery to use Adirondack-grown grapes in an award-winning dry red wine. In 2014, Nine Pin Ciderworks became the first licensed cidery in New York State under the State’s Farm Cidery bill, which enabled licensed farm cideries to use state-grown crops for the production of craft cider. Additionally, the American Distilling Institute (ADI) and Travelocity recently named the Glens Falls metropolitan statistical area (MSA) as the nation’s ninth top small metro for craft spirits tourism in their Craft Spirits Tourism Index.
Below is a sampling of some – not all – of the Capital Region’s award-winning breweries, distilleries, cideries and wineries:
- Adirondack Winery, Lake George
- Adirondack Brewery, Lake George
- Albany Distilling, Albany
- Argyle Brewing, Argyle
- Brookview Station Winery, Castleton
- Brown’s Brewing, Troy
- H. Evans Brewing, Albany
- Chatham Brewery, Chatham
- Clermont Vineyards & Winery, Clermont
- Crossroads Brewing, Athens
- Druthers Brewing, Saratoga Springs and Albany
- Hudson-Chatham Winery, Ghent
- Lake George Distilling Company, Lake George
- Rare Form Brewing, Troy
- Saratoga Courage, Greenfield
- Schmaltz Brewing, Clifton Park
- Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery, Queensbury
- Victory View Vineyard, Schaghticoke
- Wolf Hollow Brewing, Schenectady
The Capital Region’s five-year economic development plan, Capital 20.20, identified agriculture, food, and tourism as priority industries in rural economies that are “ripe for innovation.” Advancing that objective are Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC)-supported projects, such as the following current and past priority projects, which are mostly featured in the council’s 2016 and 2017 Progress Reports.
Current Priority Projects
- Hudson Hollow Hops, Chestertown: CREDC is seeking $120,000 for the creation of a micro-brewery and hop farm in Warren County. The funding would support the construction of a building for a five-barrel brewing system, the development of tasting rooms, bathroom upgrades and solar panel installation.
- Grain Hub, Moreau: CREDC is seeking $300,000 the development of a first-of-its-kind-in-the-state clearinghouse of locally grown craft beer brewing ingredients. Funding will support the purchase of grain storage, cleaning and other equipment. The Grain Hub will also feature an on-site brewery, taproom, entertainment and event center and brew pub.
- Schenectady Innovation Project, Schenectady: CREDC is seeking $3.35 million to transform the 66,000-square-foot, water-damaged former Breslaws Department Store into a Schenectady County Community College (SCCC) culinary and craft beverage lab with an on-site incubator, in-house retail brewery, restaurant, tasting areas and a Taste NY retail store.
- New York State Craft Brewers Conference: A three-day event (March 1-3, 2018) hosted by the New York State Brewers Association, featuring a craft beverage trade how and educational seminars. The event will conclude with the fifth annual New York State Craft Brewers Festival. More than 2,500 people are expected to attend this event.
Past Priority Projects
- Brown’s Brewery Sustainable Development, Hoosick Falls: Awarded $107,450 in 2016 to turn Brown’s Hoosick Falls brewery into state-of-the-art, sustainable craft brewing and agricultural destination by turning 6,000 square foot of the historic facility into a full canning and packaging line, increasing cold storage capacity and expanding laboratory space.
- Common Roots Brewing Expansion, South Glens Falls: Awarded $100,000 in 2016 to expand an existing warehouse and install in it grain storage, milling and a conveyance system and grain storage as well as to purchase a new canning line.
- Adirondack Craft Beverage Campus, Lake George: Awarded $325,000 for the development of a Craft Brewery Campus next to the Adirondack Pub Brewery. Through partnerships with SUNY Adirondack, SCCC and Paul Smiths College, this incubator will provide craft beverage academic programs while also serving as a year-round tourist destination.
- Greenwich Anchor, Greenwich: Awarded $300,000 for the renovation of a long-closed Main Street restaurant into a multi-use space with a craft brewery.
- The Mill, Schenectady: Awarded $2.3 million for the transformation of a three-block, underutilized area into a mixed-use development that will include a distillery and craft brewery.
Several of these projects advance the state’s placemaking priority while also making the region more appealing to young professionals. Further supporting the growth of the region’s craft beverage industry are craft brewing certificate programs at SCCC and SUNY Adirondack.
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