Monday, December 31, 2012

The End is Nigh

Well, it is for my week off from work, anyway.

For the past few years, I’ve taken the week between Christmas and New Years off from work. It truly is one of my most favorite times of the year. Not just because it’s a break from the daily grind, but it’s a very “family” time for Amy, the kids and I. Aside from the usual merriment of Christmas, the week also brings sledding, crackling fires in the woodstove, movie nights and epic battles of Uno on the living room floor, and of course surviving the apocalypse (yeah, I know that was the Friday before Christmas, but who's counting? Certainly not the Mayans.) In any case, as Lionel Ritchie said, the week is easy like Sunday morning.

It’s also a time for me to stretch my beery wings. Usually new beer comes to me at the pub, as quick samples after work. Having a week to do not much more than relax allows for a little broadening of my beery horizons. I don’t have to be home at a specific time, because I’m already home. I don’t have to worry about getting up in the morning for work, and I’m not driving anywhere. It all works out for the best. So what did this beery week off bring? A little bit of everything, actually. Of course, I tippled on a few of my standbys during my time off—Southern Tier Old Man, Full Sail Amber—but there were a few special ones in the mix, as well.

The week kicked off with the inaugural run of my home brewed gingerbread beer at a little get gathering we had at our house, with the neighbors, on the 22nd. The spicy brown beer went over pretty well, I must say. It’s a pungent, dark brew, with a more than subtle gingery, cinnamon and clove bite followed by a bittersweet blanket of molasses. My mother-in-law likes it, so I must have done something right.

Marley’s Ghost made its appearance that night, as well. Truth be told a few bottles of the funky black stuff may have been popped for Alan, Chad, Ron and Ethan at Beau’s Oktoberfest at the end of September—but the rest was kept for a few month longer, and quickly dispatched by the neighbors. Bretted beers are an acquired taste, but all in all everyone seemed to agree that it grew-on them. It ended up being thinner than I expected, and for a beer that was hopped with four ounces of East Kent Goldings, it was decidedly un-bitter. Regardless, the project and beer were well worth the yearlong wait.

Other than my own yuletide themed brews, the only other “Christmas” beer I had was a modest little holiday brew from England. Harvey’s Christmas Ale, to be exact. It’s become a bit of a Christmas Eve tradition for me to knock back one of these fruity and rich brews—in it’s weighty bottle—while I’m cooking up the evening’s meal. I really love this beer—in fact it’s the only beer that I keep the bottle when I’m done. There is a small colony of them, perched on my desk, even as I write this post.

Rolling through the merriest of merries, Christmas morning—after which it appeared as though a Toys R Us had exploded in our living room, I settled down with a snapping fire in wood stove, episodes 5 and 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones on DVD, and a gifted bottle of Guden Carolus Classic (Thanks to Nina and Bruce.) The winey, bruising, 8.5% Belgian Brown Ale, was the perfect elixir to top off what is always, without a doubt, the craziest day of the year. Remember winter is coming.

Oh, and did it ever come.

Thursday brought 8 to 10 inches of snow to Albany and a two-and-a-half hour, marathon, snow blowing effort that evening. I have a pretty big snow blower, but this stuff was like lead. My reward for burning off the calories put on earlier in the week was to add on a few more in the form of Theakston’s Old Peculiar—perhaps my favorite British beer. Oliver’s received a case of it (yup, just a case) back in early October, and I’ve been holding onto a few bottles since then. OP is pretty rare around these parts. It must be five or six years since I’ve seen it in the area. As I trudged through the cumbersome white stuff, the scent of snow blower exhaust clinging to my beard, I said to myself, “I will have you Old Peculiar, oh, yes, yes I will.” And, I did.

The biggest surprise of the week came Friday evening—although, it should have been Saturday morning with bacon and eggs—with my first taste of Founder’s Breakfast Stout. I’d heard the hype over this double chocolate, coffee oatmeal Stout, but I’ll be honest the hype didn’t do it justice. This baby, with a baby on the bottle, honestly tastes like the best cup of greasy spoon, diner coffee, you’d ever want to try. This beer knocked my socks off—in fact, it may have taken a few toes with it, too.

So, where does that leave us? With tonight, I suppose—New Year’s Eve. In keeping with the tradition of looking back, I picked up an 8-year-old, paper-wrapped bottle of Schiender Aventinus (2004). Although, the ball still won’t drop for another hour and fifteen minutes, the game plan is to substitute the Aventitus en lieu of Champagne, so what I think of it is going to have to wait until next year, and on that note…

Cheers to the New Year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Three Degrees of Separation

I've never been to Oregon, let alone Portland. I've never had any of Occidental Brewing Co.'s beer. In fact I'm pretty sure you can't even get it outside the greater Portland area, and certainly not 3,000 miles away, in New York.

Yet, I'm writing about them.

Technically, Jeff Allworth of Beervana wrote about them first—and chose them as this year's recipient of his Satori Award for the best beer released by an Oregon brewery or brew pub. Technically—again—the Satori was half a Satori, but that's his story to tell.

So, why am I writing about them?

Beery coincidences, that's why—and who doesn't love the beery coincidence?

I have a friend, and fellow Little League board member—Casey Seiler*—who also happens to be a pretty phenomenal journalist. Not like this blog is "journalism," but a bona fide, spells things right, journalist—technically (again, again?) he's the state editor and a columnist for the Albany Times Union. Why anybody would want to write about anything other than beer is beyond me, but he does a pretty good job at it. Aside from being a great writer and friend Casey also has a brother-in-law. A brother-in-law named Dan Engler. A brother-in-law who also happens to own a brewery called Occidental.

See, beery coincidences—and a free plug for Occidental. If you live in Portland, or your traveling there, go check them out. Let me know if the beer is as good as Jeff says. Or, better yet, bring me some.

I'm looking at you Casey.

*Casey contributed a number of the bottle caps, lacquered into the bar in the photo on Jeff's blog. I bet you're glad you know that now.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Marley's Ghost: The Spirit Appears

"You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, "by Three Spirits."

Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done.

"Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?" he demanded in a faltering voice.

"It is."

"I—I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge.

"Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow when the bell tolls One."

"Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?" hinted Scrooge.

"Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third, upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gimmick Schmimmick

Hot on the heels of the announcement that HBO and Brewery Ommegang have collaborated on a beer inspired by the network’s Dungeons & Dragons-esque, hit cable series, Game of Thrones, I got into an interesting conversation on twitter about beery gimmicks. The exchange stemmed from Alan’s tweet that, “[creating] beers based on themes and characters in the fantasy series...” was, as he put it, “meaningless.” Myself,'s Brian Papineau, and Katy Watts, of Sheltered Girl Meets World, all jumped into the conversation, weighing the pros and cons of gimmick. Alan’s take is that gimmick results in added expense that gets passed to he consumer as “sucker juice”, while Brian contends that it is consumer taste that drives, or should, drive beery trends.

Both are valid points, but the question for me is, at what point does gimmick turn to trend? If the intention of a gimmick, be it a pet rock or beer, is to sell and promote, then couldn’t it be said that any of the more recent beery trends—beer-wine hybrids, gypsy-brewing double IPAs, spiced-up holiday beers—are all, at the heart of it, gimmicks? Granted, these trends have some history to them. Imperial Stout is nothing new, but the imperialism of everything else, from pilsner to wheat beers, is.
The water gets cloudy—in the U.S, at least—by the influence of the distributor on the market. Stronger beers sell well in the U.S., as do hoppy beers. Find a marriage of both—like a double IPA— and obviously those are the beers that will be pushed by the distributor. The distributor is always looking for the next get-rich-quick idea, and who could blame them? Their job is to sell beer—good, bad, or gimmicky.

Regardless of influence, sometimes the short-run gimmick becomes the long-term trend. Buffalo Bill’s Brewery lays claim to brewing the first “modern” pumpkin beer in the early 1980s. Was that done as gimmick? Maybe, but pumpkin beers sure as hell are a trend now.

Personally, I’m a tad indifferent to the gimmick. If I buy it and it’s great—all the better. If it’s bad—oh well, live and learn. I might be out a few dollars, but I won’t make that mistake again. Is the “inspired by…” a bit schlocky? Sure, and honestly, I don’t know if Iron Throne would be my first choice at the beer store, but I usually like Ommegang stuff and at $8.50 for 750mL, it’s not a bad buy.

Do I think television show inspired beer will become the newest beer trend? Probably not, but if it is, I'm hoping for one inspired by Arrested Development—they could call it TobIPAs Fünke.

If you'd like to get in on these riveting twitter exchanges, follow me in the Twitterverse @drinkdrank1.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Big Picture

I think sometimes we all need to step back and take a look at the big picture.

Be it craft or crafty, remember, it's just beer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Missing the Mark

Yesterday, CNNMoney posted a Beth Kowitt interview with SABMiller executive chairman Graham Mackay, about his company's response and plans to adjust to the rise of craft-beer sales in the U.S.

Well, they've got a plan—but as usual it's off the mark.

Mackay has a handle on what the problem is. The big breweries focus, and have focused for years of what he deems as "repeatability" and "...the elimination of harsh flavors" or what everybody else calls bitterness. Craft, in his opinion, offers "...a bit of interest"—that an "local, anti-marketing, anti-global, anti-big" attitude. Mackay admits that for a business the size of SABMiller, it's tough to get the street cred that inherently comes with being a craft brewery. So SABMiller has formed relationships with some of those craft breweries of introduced what it considers to be craft lines. When asked if he thinks the "core craft consumer embraces that model, he says:
There's a huge debate in the craft world about us, all big brewers, because we're like the enemy. We're the other guys. They think we're stealing their authenticity. What we say is, "Let the consumer decide." If we're authentic enough for the consumer, that's authentic enough for anyone.
I'll buy that, but I'm fairly certain SABMiller could give a shit if the craft industry itself thinks they're "authentic" or not. To this point, Mackay is lined up pretty good, but the interview starts to go sideways when he talks about his company's separate "craft" division, Tenth and Blake:
For most beer, the proposition is emotional. It's not functional. The beer is not that different. And even if the beer is different, there are others that taste much like it. So you're trying to create new emotional associations in people's minds. To do that, you've got to act like a small company. You've got to incubate it for a long time. Tenth and Blake is set up to introduce things slowly and carefully and consistently like a small company.
And there we have it—macro brewing's biggest, and as far as I can see, most misunderstood (by itself) mistake when it comes to competing with craft-beer.

Craft beer isn't about authenticity or the proposition of emotional associations or even incubation. It's about beer—specifically, good beer. The big boys haven't focused on that in a long time—a very long time. What's amazing with this interview is that Mackay realizes this, and yet, is proposing his cockamamy emotion, horse shit. Whatever emotional connection may be had while drinking beer, it's more likely due to the comradery of friends at the pub or of family at a barbecue, but certainly not because you chose Otter Creek over Miller Lite. Blue Moon has been successful for SABMiller, but wouldn't you rather hang your hat on it's success do to fact that people like the beer rather than because they think it's from a small brewery? It always amazes me the breadth of which companies and CEOs go to swallow their own Kool-Aid.

Of course this, as it always does, comes down to the ol' mullah. Far be it from me to say that craft-brewers aren't in it to make money. Of course they are, but maybe that's not the only driving force. Once again Macaky has been led astray,
I don't think the craft movement in its current guise will continue to grow indefinitely. I don't think it can. It's not economic. Too many people won't make any money. Too many of them will go out of business. And I think it will become less fashionable. These things are fashion to some extent.
But, it's okay for SABMiller to pretend it's brands are craft until the bottom falls out. That's where the big breweries really miss the mark. They are playing to be the kid in the room with the most toys—regardless if those toys are missing pieces, broken or are out of batteries. Maybe, the tact best taken to compete with craft is to forsake quantity for quality, and find a few of the best toys and stick with them.

But they won't, because they never do.

But don't think the craft folks haven't drawn the battle lines, either...

Monday, December 10, 2012

This Just In: Brewery Says Beer Is Beneficial

The NY Daily News, Time, The Huffington Post and Glamour Magazine (really, Glamour?) are all reporting on the newly discovered, anti-virus fighting properties of humulone—the chemical that makes hops bitter. This, apparently, earth-shattering revelation was the result of research done by Sapporo Medical University and funded by ...wait for it... Yes—Sapporo Brewery.

Does anybody want to buy a bridge?
Wow! I mean, really—wow! A brewery paying for a study that finds beer to be not just benign, but healthful—who'da thunk? I can only hope that all those french fry tests being done at Hamburger U will also be as positive. 2012 looks like it's going to go down as a red-letter year in science.


Don't get me wrong, if the research supports the findings—great. I also realize scientist and doctors have been endorsing beer for generations—but c'mon. Should three well respected news outlets—and the Huffington Post*—be waisting their time with this? This wasn't an independent medical study—this isn't like trying to find out why sharks are cancer resistant. This was an industry-funded experiment to sell beer. What if the results came back with nothing? Would Time and the Daily News have reported that? Would we have seen this headline?

"Researchers at Sapporo Medical University have concluded that beer is yellow... and sometimes it's not."

I'm not sure if it's a slow news day, or they were just going for an easy headline. Maybe they just ran with the press release—but, talk about taking the bait.

*That joke was just to easy to pass up. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Ya' know what I haven't written about lately?


Since the holidays are quickly approaching, I figured I'd pass along a few beery recipes that are perfect for those obligatory year-end parties and get togethers. That's right, I'm about to go all Martha Stewart on your collective asses. Bear in mind, I have not made any of these recipes, so I take no responsibility for their suckiness—however, I will take all the credit for their deliciousness. Secondly, I'm not going to pair any beers with these recipes because, truthfully, I simply can't be bothered to do that. So, let's start off with a really simple appetizer:

Drunken Mussels

5 pounds (2.2kg) mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
2 shallots, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Twelve ounce bottle (355mL) of IPA
2 Tbsps green peppercorns in brine
2 Tbsps butter
chopped parsley for garnish
crusty bread

1) In a large pot (or the kitchen sink basin), soak the mussels 10 minutes in enough lightly salted cold water to cover.

2) In a separate large pot, mix the shallots, tomatoes, garlic, beer, peppercorns and butter. Place the mussels in the pot, and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking 5 minutes, until mussels open. Discard unopened mussels. Place remaining mussels and broth in a large bowl and top with parsley. Serve with the crusty bread to sop up the broth.

Okay next up, a main course. I'm thinking something hearty and rich for a chilly December evening. I really dig stews and pot roasts, and the Belgians do a crazy good version of beef stew made with Old Bruin or Flemish Red Ale.

Carbonnade flamande

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds (1.3kg) of chuck roast or top round cut into 2 inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups thickly sliced onions
1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp brown sugar
3 Twelve ounce bottles (355mL) of Old Bruin or Flemish Red Ale
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp of red currant jelly
1 Tsp red wine vinegar
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Boiled carrots and potatoes, for serving

1) In a heavy Dutch oven (cast iron is perfect), melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add one-third of it to the pot. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 2 more batches of meat, using the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

2) Add the onions to the pot, cover and cook over low heat, stirring, until browned. Stir in the flour until the onions are well-coated, then slowly add the beer. Return the meat to the pot along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

3) After two hours, uncover the pot and let the sauce reduce slightly and thicken over medium heat. Stir in red currant jelly and vinegar. When the sauce is to your liking, transfer the stew into serving bowls, sprinkle with parsley and serve with boiled carrots and potatoes.

This time of year nothing says Christmas more to me more than gingerbread, and this cake-y version spiked with a spiced-up holiday beer, and served with a big dollop of vanilla cream really hits the holiday mark.

Gingerbread with Vanilla Whipped Cream

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (255g) molasses
1-1/4 cup (295mL) room temperature, spiced holiday beer (like harpoon Winter Warmer)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (92g) diced crystallized ginger (optional)

1) Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175º C).

2) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

3) Melt the butter in a heatproof measuring cup. Add the molasses to the cup, and pour into the dry ingredients in the bowl, mixing to moisten.

4) Add the beer gradually, stirring until everything is moistened. Beat the egg and stir into the batter until it's evenly combined. Stir in the crystallized ginger.

5) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan.

6) Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes before slicing; gingerbread is best served warm. Top with vanilla cream (below).

Vanilla Whipped Cream

2 1/2 cups (600mL) chilled whipping cream
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract in large bowl until firm peaks form.

There you go—three recipes for the holidays, all with a good shot of beer to liven things up! If you make any of them, drop me a line and let me know what you thought, or if you have a favorite recipe you'd like to pass on, leave it in the comment section or send me an email at

So, like the title says, go and eat, drink and be merry!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bottom of the Ninth

I'm sick—but the blog must go on.

24/ has released a list of the 9 beers that Americans no longer drink. The statistics were complied over five years from 2006 to 2011 and include those beers which have lost 30% or more in sales. They are Milwaukee's Best and Best Light, Miller High Life Light, Amstell Light, Miller Genuine Draft, Old Milwaukee, Budweiser Select, Michelob and Michelob Light. The lowest sales loss percentage of theses beers is Milwaukee's Best with a 35.5% decline, and the highest is Michelob at 72% loss.

The article attributes all of this decline, firstly to he rise and dominance of light beers—like Bud and Coors Light; then to the light "premium" and/or craft-ish beers, including Shocktop, Blue Moon and Michelob Ultra; and finally as a result of the pressure from craft and small-market beers. The article notes—from an interview with Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS executive editor Eric Shepard—that the industry blames a lack of innovation for the decline, but puts most of the blame on the economy.

I've got to say the "economy" thing is a bit of a cop-out. Yeah, I get that a shitty economy affects everything, but—from my house—this decline isn't about one beer being better than another, but rather an over-saturation in the marketplace. ABInBev and MillerCoors made a poorly calculated decision and flooded the marketplace with too many beers—the old "everything to everyone" pitfall—and it's come back to bite them in the ass. How much different is what the American brewing industry has done over the last twenty years than what the American automotive industry has done—repackaging of the same product under a different name? ABInbev sells fifteen American light Lagers alone—fifteen!

Just by the law of supply and demand something has got to give.

Okay, back to being sick. Ack.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Beer and Jesus

Yeah, yeah, I know—don’t ever talk about politics or religion. But, I came across a blog post by Christian Piatt that, I have to say, made me do a double take.

Before I get into it, I do have to preface this by saying I am not a religious person—at all—I’m not anti-religion or atheist, it’s just that I’m lazy more than anything. Some people like to hedge their bets by saying, “Oh, I’m not religious—but I do go to church on Christmas and Easter.”

Not me.

Why? That’s right—I’m lazy. Feel free to go to church if you want. You can even tell me about, I’m cool with that. Hell, you can even judge me if you’d like—again totally cool with that. I also understand that being an un-religious, lazy, non-church go-er, I may have a few preconceived notions of what “church” is or is not. One of those preconceived notions might be that beer and church don’t normally go hand in hand. That idea is exactly why I took a closer read of Piatt’s post.

Christian—a musician, public speaker and contributor to the Huffington Post—and his wife Amy are the co-founders of the Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado, and after reading some of Christian’s other posts, I’ve come to realize that he’s somewhat—to use a superbly appropriate word—unorthodox when it come to his spirituality. He refers to himself as a father, son and holy heretic on his website and revels in posting pictures of epically failed church signs on his blog. He seems to be going at this religion thing from a slightly different slant.

So where does the beer come in? The Milagro Christian Church hosted a beer and hymns night last weekend. Yup, I just said “Beer” and “Hymns.”

Am I right to think that your preconceived notions about church just got blown out of the water, as well? Granted, Piatt realizes that his approach may have been a tad controversial, but worth the effort. He said of the idea in his post:

If you invite most people … to a hymn sing at a church on Saturday night, they’d decline. I know I would, and I work at a church. But add beer to the formula, and suddenly the event becomes something entirely different. Why does the beer matter? I have beer at home, and it’s not like it was some orgiastic free-for-all; we had a two-beer limit. About half of the folks who came didn’t even drink. So what’s the big deal?

It says something important without words. It says that this isn’t the church of your former understanding. It says to expect the unexpected, to blur the lines between church and the world, to come with an open heart and find, with nothing more than a child-like sense of “what’s next?”

Piatt has tapped into an aspect of beer that often gets overlooked, or at least un-thought of because of the binge drinking reports on television news and the DWI blotters in newspapers. Beer celebrates community, and if your celebrating family and friends, why not—if you’re so inclined—also celebrate God? How far off is what Piatt and his congregation did, from a group of folks signing around a piano in their local pub? In this celebration of God, community and beer, Piatt has also turned "church" on its head—in a good way. As he says in his post “...we had BEER IN CHURCH. The walls didn’t crumble. No strikes of lightning. Just joyful spirited community.” 

Joyful. Spirited. Community.

I've got to admit, religious or not, that sounds like a pretty good time to me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

“The Greatest Beer Run in History”

Okay, I’m back—I'm stuffed full of turkey and mashed potatoes, but nevertheless, back.

Occasionally I troll Google News for a beery tidbit to write about. Normally, the stories and articles I come across are plucked from the business sections of newspapers and magazines. Usually they’re about the successes or failures of a brewery, beer brand or pub—stories about everything from beer marketed specifically at women to the rules and regs of beer gardens. They’re usually just the straightforward beery, business practice stuff you’d expect read in every newspaper, in every town, across the globe.

Then there are the stories that are not so business-related, but just as beery. Brian Stanley’s two-part article (from November 10 and 24) in the on-line edition of the Joliet (Illinois) Herald-News is one of those stories. The story—in two parts—is a rare, little, gem that combines two of my favorite topics—beer and the Second World War. Stanleys' articles focus on the exploits of Clarence “Clancy” Hess, United States Marine Corps aviator, and later, an American Airlines pilot.

Clancy Hess the night he returned,
in December, 1944.

Courtesy of Brett Roseman /
Sun Times Media 
A Chicago area native, Hess, was a torpedo-bomber pilot with the 1st Marine Air Wing during WWII. Hess saw combat throughout the Pacific Theater, and was part of the Cactus Air Force ensembled on Guadalcanal during 1942. In 1943, he shot down three Japanese planes over Bougainville, in the northern Solomon Islands. The first article also recalls some of Hess’ adventures as not only a flier, but also as an amateur photographer. While, Hess’ stories of bombing missions and battlefield puppies are interesting, it’s Stanley’s second article that piqued my interest—a story about Hess' last, and perhaps greatest, "mission."

By the end of 1944, Hess had been in the PTO for over two years, and by December of that year was stationed at the newly establish naval base at Seeadler Harbor on Manus Island, off the northern coast of New Guinea. Not only being an accomplished combat pilot, but also an aviation barnstormer during the 1930s,  helped garner the twenty-three year old Marine a new assignment, as a flight instructor back in Hawaii.  However, one last combat mission before heading back to Oahu, would set the stage for Hess’ beery adventure.

Hess’ squadron was assigned a mission to strike a bridge being used by the Japanese. As he approached the bridge, Hess deployed his payload, dropping the bombs not over the target, but rather just a few inches from their racks—dumping thousands of pounds of weight onto the aircraft’s bomb doors. Hess returned to Manus, to find his payload undelivered—and what's more—unbelievably nestled on the steel belly doors of his plane. While Hess was lucky the bombs hadn’t detonated, the men of Seeladler naval base were even luckier. They had just been informed that Christmas of 1944 was going to be dry, due to lack of supply, and there was no way any officer was about to order a cargo plane on a 1,200 mile, round-trip flight, just to go pick-up beer. They figured the only way to get beer onto Manus was to put it into a combat aircraft—planes that were small enough to take off and land without drawing any undo attention, but had enough payload capacity to bring back the beer. When Hess and the squadron returned to base, the crewmen realized that their problem had been solved—all thanks to those “stronger-than-they-realized” bomb doors. If those doors could hold the weight of those bombs, they surely could hold a bunch of cases of beer. The base mechanics began stripping Hess’ plane—and his wingman Pat Patton’s plane, as well—of anything “unnecessary” for the “mission”—including the guns and radios—making storage room and shedding weight. 

In the article, Hess claims he has no idea how far up the chain-of-command the order went, but in late December of 1944, Clancy Hess—along with his friend Pat Patton—flew 600 miles from Manus Island to the Allied air base at Townsville, Australia—and loaded up two, Marine Corps aircraft with 6,000 pounds of beer, booze and cigars. Hess and Patton's planes weighed so much that on the return trip, they barely cleared the white caps over the Coral Sea, and when Hess landed back on Manus, he blew out his tail wheel—a minor sacrifice for the "Greatest Beer Run in History."

Needless to say, Christmas of 1944 at Seeadler naval base was not dry.

Clancy Hess, at 91, is alive and well living in Lockport, Illinois. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Turkey, Football and Beer... But What Beer?

The greatest holiday in the history of mankind approaches.

I love Thanksgiving. From the roasty aroma of the bird browning in the oven, to the last minuscule, crumb of pumpkin pie crust left on the plate—I love Thanksgiving.

Grandma knows what I'm talking about.
Because I love this holiday so much, for the past few years I've taken to brewing a beer for the occasion. I have a tendency to brew for holidays and events, anyway—they're always a good excuse to do something fun with home brew. Turkey-day, however, is serious business when it comes to brewing. There are so many things going on that day—and not just food-wise, either. People are coming and going, the parade in NYC is parading, the potatoes are being mashed, it's third and goal, the Democrats are ruining everything—no the Republicans are! You've got to come up with the perfect beer for all that—a beer that's not going to have you sacked out on the couch, with the button on your pants undone before the tryptothan kicks in; a beer that's not going to have you filled-up by the first pass of cornbread dressing; a beer that, if one chooses to quaff with dinner, won't clash with those traditional trimmings. The ideal Thanksgiving beer can be tricky.

However, I think I'm on to something with this years brew— a 3.7%, Märzeneque-gristed-hopped-like-a-Pale-Ale, session brew. It's light in body and slightly sweet, mildly bitter, with tangerine upfront and bread at the backend. It's golden orange with a slight haze, and very drinkable. The beer is pretty simple, in make-up—Pilsner, Munich, Vienna and Crystal malts. Chinook for bittering, Cascade for aroma and Perle hops in the middle to round everything out. An American Ale yeast is clean, and lets the malt and hops do their own talking. I think this one is going to work out nicely.

My question is, what's your perfect Thanksgiving beer?

Now, I realize that some of you don't "technically" celebrate Thanksgiving, so I'll rephrase the question: What's your perfect argue-with-Uncle-John-while-eating-large-quantities-of-food-as-any-number-of-professional-sporting-events-play-out-on-television beer?

Thanksgiving, Christmas, La Tomantina, Festivus—they're all really the same.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Albany Ale: The British Invasion...Sort Of

I swear, I don't intend these posts to be so long. Any how, here goes.

British colonial Albany is a bit unusual in that it wasn’t particularly British— at least not culturally, any way. Now, I realize that sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit—a Mike Myers as Linda Richman, “I’m a little verklempt … talk amongst yourselves … I’ll give you a topic” bit, but it’s true. Albany still thought of itself as Dutch well into British control.

The plan for the city of Albany, c.1790
Courtesy of the New York State Museum
In August of 1664 the growing might of the British Royal Navy made itself known to Dutch residents of the island of Manhattan, when four frigates sailed into the harbor and demanded the surrender of all New Netherlands. With that, Director-General of New Netherlands Pieter Stuyvesant acquiesced, and Dutch New Amsterdam became British New York. The colony would fall back into Dutch hands briefly in 1673, but by 1674 it was back under British control.

It wasn’t as if the Brits didn’t try to assimilate the New York Dutch, they did. Beverwijck was re-named Albany in honor of Prince James the Duke of Albany (who would go on to become James II of England), and its street names were anglicized—Jonkers Street became State Street, Handlers Street became Market Street (and later Broadway.) The Dutch became the butt British jokes, as well—implying that New Netherlanders were cheap and lazy. Worst of all, some New Netherlanders were actually sold into slavery and sent to the southern British colonies. However, one last negotiation by Stuyvesant made all the difference to those Dutch living in the Hudson valley—Article VII of Articles of Transfer. Article VII protected religious freedom, and while the British almost everywhere else in the colony ignored the article—and in fact acted against it—it stood fast in New York City and up the Hudson River. This cornerstone of religious freedom allowed the Dutch Reform Church to continue to operate in the colony. Even after British control, Dutch reformed ministers in America were trained in the Netherlands, and therefore church services were held in Dutch, and language affects culture. Had the British quelled the Dutch church, New York may have adopted British culture sooner, but since they did not, Dutch culture thrived well into the second half of the 18th century. It wouldn’t be until the North American extension of the Seven Years’ War—the French and Indian War—in the 1750s, with its influx of British soldiers and supporters that Albany would finally embrace its Anglo alter ego.

Albany was at the edge of battleground New York, during the French and Indian War. It was the largest town between New York City and French controlled Canada, and therefore became the billet and headquarters for a large part of the British Army in North America. It was both a target and a jumping off point of a number of military endeavors. It was the site of the 1754 Albany Congress—an inter-colonial cabal organized to gain support for the war. The city continued to act as a base of operations for the British through the war’s end in 1763. With that conflict over however, British-national support wouldn’t last long. The sentiment quickly turned decidedly anti-British by the end of the decade. The city soon became a hotbed of political dissidence—revolutionaries and tory loyalist vied for control of the city. With the outbreak of violence in 1774, Albany was once again in the midst of war—the mayor, Abraham Cornelis Cuyler celebrated the King's birthday, while the sign of the Kings Arms Tavern was burned at the foot of State Street. Within three years Albany would be the target of British General John Burgoyne. His plan was to head south from Montreal and link-up with redcoat forces moving east from Niagara Falls—at Albany—therefore cutting off New England from the southern colonies. Burgoyne never made to Albany. His army was stopped, as it moved south from Canada, by American forces at the Battles of Saratoga. The British and loyalist militias to the west, never made it to Albany either. This was partly due to the actions of Colonel Peter Gansevoort at the battle of Oriskany and the Siege of Fort Stanwix, in central New York. Gansevoort was the great-grandson of Harmen Harmanse, a Beverwijck patriarch and the proprietor of the brewery on Broadway and Maiden Lane.

Regardless of military strife and shifts in colonial power during the one hundred plus years of British control, Albany continued to grow. By the 1750s the old stockade had been removed and replaced. By the 1790s, that stockade would be gone as well. The city would expand north, south and east. By the 1790s, the city's borders extended south from what is today Clinton Avenue, to modern day 3rd street and east from the river to Dove Street. Further north, along Fifth (now Patroon) creek settlements began popping up, as they did along the Beverkill to the south. By mid-century Albany’s riverfront also began to develop. No longer was it simply a collection of small docks and moorings, but rather a full-fledged commercial waterfront. By the end of the century, having survived colonialism from two major European powers and two bloody and destructive wars, Albany was now an independent, inland port and a capital city—poised on the edge of an industrial boom.

So, how did all this change affect Albany’s beeriness? Surprisingly, it didn’t affect it very much. Albany seems to have been a beer town in the 17th century and that trend continues into the 18th century.

You might think that a British controlled colonial town with river access to the Atlantic ocean may have gotten in on the rum trade, and rum production may have muted beer production. It didn't—and my reasoning goes back to the Dutch culture of New York. Whereas British settlements in New England took advantage of the importation of Caribbean sugar, and involved themselves in the triangular rum trade between the islands, colonies and England, New York did not—at least not until much later. Why? Because rum is British and New York was Dutch, and the Dutch drank what? That’s right—beer. 

“Wait a minute,“ you say “If there was an influx of British soldiers to Albany in the 1750s, didn’t they demand rum—and wasn't colonial rum production more important to the British than beer?”

The un-ghosted area represents the borders of
Albany as represented in the 1790s map above.
Click for a larger view.
They did, and it was—but as I said, not in New York, and especially not in Albany. Not that they're weren't rum distilleries in Albany, there were—a whopping two*. Rum distilling was not a major competitor of beer brewing in Albany. There simply wasn’t enough rum made in Albany to have cut into beer production. Secondly, the first of the two distilleries didn’t open until the late 1750s and the second not until the 1770s. While rum distillation got a late start, many of the old, Dutch family breweries were still operating successfully, garnering their owners both wealth and political power. Second generation Dutch families also began establishing breweries within the city, however it would not be until the second-half of the last decade of the 18th century that a non-Dutch brewer would establish a brewery within the city of Albany.

That being said, lets take a look at the map.

1. The old, Dutch family breweries of the Ryckmans, Gansevoorts, and van Schaicks, established in the 1650s, continued to operate along the Broadway corridor well into the second half of the 18th century. Albert Ryckman was elected mayor of Albany in 1702, while the Gansevoorts became one of the most influential families in all of New York. Brewing may have gained these families wealth and power, but by the end of the 18th century all three had diversified—he families had gotten into everything from from lumber to politics. The Ganesvoorts operated their brewery until tearing it down in 1807 and erected a hotel named Stanwix Hall, in honor of the fort defended by their now famous family member. The Van Schiacks moved further north ip the river, near Cohoes, New York, building a mansion on their namesake island. By the turn-of-the-century the other two families had left the city for country estates, as well.

2. While patroonships were a Dutch concept, the British honored the system after their take-over. In 1666 the first patroon to actually live—permanently—in the colony, Jeremias van Renssealer built a series of mills and a brew house to the west of his manor near the mouth of what is now Patroon Creek. It’s unclear if this was a commercial or personal consumption operation.

3. At some point during the 1680s Beverwijck-born Bastian Harmanse Visscher would open a brewery along Market Street (now Broadway), having learned the trade from his father. By the 1720s Visscher’s son Teunis had joined the family business, followed by his grandson Bastian T. Visscher in the 1750s. Like the old, Dutch families, these second-generation, Beverwijck family would become pillars of Albany society, and like those families, the Visscher's would also leave Albany by the end of the century. Unfortunately, the location of the Visscher brewery is unknown, other than being on what is now Broadway.

Abraham Wendell c.1737.
One of the Wendell's Mills' buildings can be
seen in the background of this painting.

Courtesy of the Albany Institute of History and Art
4. Sometime during the 1730s, the relative newcomers to brewing, the Wendell family, opened a series of mills and a brew house along the Beverkill, near what is now the basin of Lincoln Park. This area became an Albany landmark simply known as Wendell’s Mills, and operated almost to the turn of the 19th century, although it’s unknown if the brewery did as well.

5. In 1796, Scottish-born James Boyd established a brewery at Arch and Green Streets—of which now is the parking lot for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Albany County Department of Health. Boyd becomes the first non-Dutch brewery-owner in the city of Albany. A brewery will operate at that location for next 110 years.

So where does that leave us?

Surprised, actually. Remember at the beginning of the Albany Ale: Going Dutch post, I mentioned the "zones" on the Sanborn Insurance maps?
The first was in the South End along the River; the second was further west, near what is now Lincoln Park; the third was located in the Center Square; and the fourth was on upper Broadway, near the entrance to the Erie Canal.
Our map shows that we've begun establishing those zones, earlier than I expected—three of them at least: the southern zone near the river, the northern zone on upper Broadway, and the zone near Lincoln Park. The fourth, the Center square zone has yet to be established. The Broadway corridor zone also seems to be going strong—at least until the end of the century—since it doesn't exists on the 1890s Sanborn map, it remains to be seen how it fares into the 19th-century.

Speaking of the 19th century—that's up next. Stay tuned. 

Many thanks to the New York State Museum and Steve Bielinski for his work on the People of Colonial Albany website.

* The 1750s era Douw-Quakenbush rum distillery was unearthed by archaeologists in downtown Albany in 2004, just before a revitalization project in the city began. The New York State Museum has a permanent exhibition titled Beneath the City: An Archaeological Perspective of Albany, that includes a variety of artifacts, including two wooden vats from the distillery. Volkert Janse Douw, an early Beverwijck settler and patriarch of the Douw family was a brewer and opened the Dean Street brewery in 1654. The Van Schaicks would eventually buy the property and run their brewery there, into the 18th-century. It's not quite beer, but it's still cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quantity Over Quality and the International Stout Day Haiku Contest

The entry numbers were staggering—68 syllables staggering.

With so many entries it was, truly, hard to decide tis years winner of the second annual International Stout Day Haiku Contest. Alan came out strong with this beaut:

Stout: once craft's focus.
But roasted bite ain't a hop.

Tear drops on cream heads.

Derrick, the Beer Runner expounded on Guinness:

My first Guinness was
like mud, only then I was
just eight at the time

However, once again arn of Blood, Stout and Tears has run away with. It's not so much the quality of arn's haiku, but the shear volume of it—two poems for the price of one. He is like the Stephen King of beer-related, Japanese-inspired poetry. If that's not a talent and a niche market, I don't know what is. Here's what he brought to the table:

Engine oil colour
chilli, oatmeal, chocolate
brewdog up to ten

The bottle's last drop
like a black gold tear it falls
perfection acheived

In conclusion, arn, upholding his title as drinkdrank's official poet laureate (is poet laureate a defensible title?) has won the day! Congrats arn, please continuing rhyming and stealing (is that what the kids are saying today?) I'll contact you about your fabulous prize (it's not cash).

For the rest of you—remember the International Session Beer Day Haiku Contest is just around the corner!  


Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Point of Clarification

Here at drinkdrank, we strive for accuracy (riiiight). Because of that commitment to excellence (excellence?) I've updated the map of Beverwijck showing the brewery locations in the Albany Ale: Going Dutch post. It's not a big change—you probably would have even noticed—but a change nonetheless. The long and short of it is, I moved the shoreline closer to the stockade border and the stockade border closer to Broadway.

I know your relieved.

Any way, I should have the next installment of brewery locations—those in 18th-century Albany—up soon. I promised the map will be accurate the first time.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Waxing Poetically: The International Stout Day Haiku Contest

As usual, I'll get the ball rolling...

Velvety pitch black 
milk, dry, sweet, imperial
Midnight in my glass

Oh yeah, that's some epic verse, right there. What have you got?

You can post here, or to me at @drinkdrank1 on twitter (remember to include the #StoutDay and #DDISDHC* hashtags). I'll announce the winner (and the prize) next week—so bring it!

*drinkdrank International Stout Day Haiku Contest, that is.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Albany Ale-less

At long last—the menu! 

While I was researching my post about the Beverwijck breweries, I came across this little gem of a menu from Stanwix Hall (thanks to the New York Public Library). Stanwix Hall was a swanky little joint on the corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane in downtown Albany during most of the 1880s. The gold-domed building (to the right) was built on the site of the Ganesvoort brewery in the early 19th century and remained there until it was leveled to make way for Union Station in 1899. The building housed offices, a hotel, and obviously a restaurant.

Courtesy of the NYPL Labs What's on the Menu?

This particular mid-day menu is from June 21, 1880. For those who may be confused, sometimes dinner is lunch while supper is dinner—clear? Along with delectable offerings of Chicken Croquette’s smothered in a Sauce Supreme, and a fancy pants version of Mac N’ Cheese—Macaroni lie au Fromage, a la Napolitan. The  restaurant at the Stanwix also served up a good bit of booze—from claret and hock to port and porter. Interestingly enough, there’s no mention at all of Albany made beer, let alone Albany Ale. They served Bass, Guinness, Youngers, even Rochester lager—perhaps a nod to the newly opened Genesee Brewery in that city? But, nothing local—why would a restaurant smack in the middle of a city filled with breweries not offer a locally made beer?

Here’s my theory: Local is local.

While that’s super-cool and hip today, maybe not so much 130 years ago. What’s exotic about Amsdell Brothers? Nuthin’. They’re, just up on Lancaster Street—big deal. Quinn and Nolan? Bah, I remember little Mikey Nolan when he was knee high to a tadpole. But this Guinness Stout, and these Younger’s and Bass beers must be better they’ve been imported—from Europe.

Look at the rest of the menu. Stanwix Hall offered ten varieties of champange, eight clarets and a slew of liqueurs—all imported into Albany, and none particularly cheap either. I’m equating the lack of Albany beer, not as an indicator of an industry past it’s prime but rather that Stanwix Hall may have been a bit highfalutin. I can’t blame the hotel folks, totally on this either—the grass is always greener, right? The exotic is always desirable, and if you’ve got the means, someone will always be willing to satisfy the need.

Think of it this way—it’s like the import beer craze of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Back then high-end bars and restaurants may have been just a little more inclined to sell Lowenbrau and Becks over Iron City and Rainier to their power tie wearing, Magnum P.I. mustachioed, clientele. Trade mutton chops for the moustache, a top hat for the tie and Bass for Becks—viola 1880.
Like I said, the grass is always greener. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Of Poetry and #Stoutday

Yeah, yeah, I know I promised something about a menu today. But, you may have heard that New York City is a bit damp of late and so, apparently are the New York Public Library's internet servers, so no menu post—again.

That has no bearing on the fact that this upcoming November 8th (that's one week from today), is International Stout Day, and therefore it is—as it is on every International (insert your choice of beer style) Day—a time to honor our malty friend with Japanese, 5–7–5 syllabic, poetry. That's right folks, it's time once again for the 2nd Annual International Stout Day Haiku Contest.

You may remember last year's winner:

vanilla slips in
dark magic takes hold of me
roasted bliss deepens

Now that's poetry!

But wait—you think you can do better? 

By all means enter early and enter often (in the comments box here on the blog, or email your entry(ies) to me at between now and Thursday, for you chance to win fabulous prizes! Okay, maybe they're not fabulous, and maybe it's more like prize than prizes, but it's still free swag, right?

So, get ready to get your kireji on, and I'll catch you back here on the 8th!

Konichiwa bitches.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Courtesy of Rob Gale
Sorry. I've been waiting a year to do this.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Ruins Everything

Storm King— get it?
I have to admit for today's post I had every intention of writing this great piece about an image of a beery dinner menu from a late 19th-century, Albany hotel. Unfortunately Sandra (Sandra is here real name, she just goes by Sandy so she doesn't sound snooty), has put a bit of a scare into the greater New York City metropolitan area, thusly resulting in the closure of the New York Public Library system, including its internet services—the source of said image. Plans have been altered, accordingly.

Albany, while still on Sandy's route north, is expected to only take a glancing blow (I say that now). I have decided to simply sit back in my house for the evening, watch the all the ruckus and as they say, if I can't beat her, join her—with an appropriately named treat from Victory.

So, stay tuned on Thurday for the menu post, and if you're in the storm's path, batten down the hatches, be safe and most importantly—protect the beer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Albany Ale: Going Dutch

Alan warned you. This post is downright Cornellian in length.

Last week, you may have seen Alan’s post about the 1890’s Sanborn insurance maps, of the city of Albany, that I came across. The maps are fantastic, detailing every home, business, and yes brewery in the city at the tuen-of-the-20th-century. While Alan pondered the odorific effects of the eleven breweries in Albany at the time, I was intrigued at the “brewing zones” that seem to have been established over the cities beery time line—four zones to be exact. The first was in the South End along the River; the second was further west, near what is now Lincoln Park; the third was located in the Center Square; and the fourth was on upper Broadway, near the entrance to the Erie Canal. Seeing this pattern led me to a question.

Albany c1695. What looks like
north is actually west on this map. 
Did Albany always have brewing "zones?"

And, that is what I’m proposing to find out—by mapping as many breweries as I can throughout the city's past. I have known idea what I’ll find, but hopefully we’ll start to see a pattern.

If I’m going to collect this data, it makes sense to start at the beginning, and the beginning started 398 years ago along the banks of the Hudson River. Not many North American cities can boast a nearly 400-year history—let alone one filled with beer. In any case, in order for any of this to make any sense, a little background on the Dutch and New Netherlands is in order. 

In 1609, Henry Hudson first sailed the river later named for him, eventually resulting in a colonial province, established on behalf of, first the Dutch East, and then West India Company (WIC). This province dubbed Nieuw-Nederland, would eventually stretch from southern Delaware to eastern New York. The first permanent settlement in this new territory was roughly 150 miles north of the mouth of the Hudson River. This bit gets a little confusing, but here goes—Basically there were two entities around what would become Albany at this time. Both represented and supplied goods and materials to the WIC back in Amsterdam, but operated and controlled autonomously of each other. The first entity was Fort Orange, built as a small outpost and trading site in 1624. It sat just north of where the South Mall Arterial of U.S. Interstate 787 runs along the river today. The fort—and all of its 30 inhabitants—fell under the control of Petrus Stuyvesant, the WIC appointed, peg-legged Director-General of the New Netherland Colony. Surrounding the fort on all side, for 24 square miles, was the patroonship of Rennselaerwijck, of which all its inhabitants; materials and businesses fell under the authority of Kiliaen van Rennselaer. In order to facilitate the colonization of New Netherlands, the WIC drafted the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions of 1629, which set the basis for the patroon system. Basically the Charter allowed for the purchase of land in the new world by WIC invested members. In return the investor, entitled “patroon”, would agree to establish a settlement and oversee its development through the use of indentured servants. Think of patroons as 17th-century, new-world, feudal manor lords. 

See how that may have been a problem for the Director-General?

By the 1630s van Rennselaer made good on his promise and the first large groups of Dutch settlers began arriving. The strife between Pete and Kil only increased. Both men felt they had the authority over either’s responsibility. Van Rennselaer felt the fort fell under his jurisdiction, while Stuyesant felt the same about Rennselaerwijck. By the 1640s nearly 100 “illegal” structures had popped up around the fort. Stuyesant at first threatened to destroy these little hovels. Kiliaen van Rennselaer having since died in 1643 and replaced by his son Johan living in Amsterdam, was no longer a threat to his power—instead, he decided to establish a permanent village. The center of this new settlement would lie nearly a half mile north of the fort, at the intersection of Jonkers and Haendlers Street. That village—Beverwijck—and those two streets, now State and Broadway in downtown Albany, would become the center of the North American brewing world for well over 200 years.

Now that you know how Beverwijck came to be, let’s get to the beeriness.

Click for a closer look.
The Dutch were a beer-loving folk, and since water wasn’t always the safest thing to drink, brewing became pretty important, especially in the colonies. Brewers in Europe, and now in the new world, could make quite a living and often found themselves in positions of power. Beverwijck and Rennselaerwijck were no exceptions. From the late 1640 to the 1670s, the area had between eight and fifteen breweries—and far more brewers making beer in it. These were not settlers simply making beer for personal consumption, either. These were commercial brewers selling product to taverns and individuals. The brewers were both regulated and taxed accordingly. The first individual allowed to brew legally was Jacob Albertsen Planck, who was authorized by Kiliean Van Rennselaer to "at his own expense and risk and full charge ... brew beer to be sold to the men of the Company or to the savages, or do otherwise therewith as he shall think fit" in 1634. Rennselaerwijck, in fact, had a number of breweries within its boundaries. In 1643 Van Rennselaer contracted Evert Pels to work as a public brewer for six years between 1643-1649, in the colony at what would become the colonial brewery in Greenbush. Cornelis Cornelisz and Jan Witmont , William Brouwer, and Cornelis van Nes and Jan Oothout operated across the river in Greenbush as well, while Jacob Hevick and Harmen Hermanse van Ganesvort owned breweries to the south of Beverwijck, near the Beverkill* and in what is now the town of Bethlehem. 

The area in and around Beverwijck, however had by far the greatest density of breweries—twelve originally, with eight surviving into the 1650s—I’ve mapped seven of them, so far. The black outline around the area, was the stockade boundary circa 1690s.

1) Beginning in 1647, Jan Labatie operated a small brewery with Fort Orange. There is no record of Labatie brewing past the mid-1650s.

2) The brewery on Broadway between what is now Hudson and Division had a rather long life span. Operated first by Pieter Bronck in 1645, then by Jacob Hevick and Reyndert Pietersz. Harmen Hermanse and Jan Harmenz Weendorp rented it and finally it was sold to Albertus Rijckman in 1678. It continued to operate until the 1730s.

3) The brewery off the Ruttenkill, on State Street between South Pearl and Green Streets didn’t fair so well. Opened in 1649, Rutger Jacobsz and Goosen Gerritsz operated it on Jacobsz property, but in 1657 he tears down the brewery and sells the land to Harman Vedder.

4) Franz Barensten Pastoor established the brewery on Broadway between Stueben and Maiden Lane in 1653. Jan Dirscksz van Eps also brewed there until he settled in Schenectady. Unfortunately, he was killed at the infamous 1690 massacre. The site , however, would remain a brewery until being sold in 1736, to be used as a parsonage.

5) Dean Street is a courtyard now, but it in 1654, partners Pieter Hartgers, Volkert Janse Douw and Jan Thomase built their brewery where the “Old Post Office” building sits today. Ownership would transfer to Goosen Gerritsz van Schiack, and Sybant van Schiack would eventually buy the brewery from his father. The van Schiack family would continue run the brewery well into the 18th century.

6) The brewery on Beaver Street between South Pearl and Green streets, backing up to the Ruttenkill has a tough go. Jacob Janz van Noortsrant originally purchased the land and built a brewery. Jacobsz Rutgers buys the property in 1654 and brews there until he sells off his brewing equipment and closes shop in 1662.

7) Last but not least—when the Rennsalearwijck brewer, Harman Hermanse van Ganesvort moved to Beverwijck, he initially rented the brewery on Broadway between Hudson and Division, but would purchase his own brewery at the southeast corner of Broadway and Maiden—the site of two well known Albany landmarks throughout history—first the Stanwix Hall Hotel, then Union railroad station. That brewery would continue to be run by the Ganesvoort family until the turn of the 19th century.

So what does the map show? It shows that even in 17th century Albany, there were indeed, brewing zones. It, along with the research,** show that some locations were more advantages than others. The two breweries to the west along the Ruttenkill close within a short period of time, and the brewery in the fort doesn’t fair much better. The other four breweries, on the east side of Broadway in the heart of the village, thrive for decades, and in the case of the Ganesvoort’s, for well over a century. It’s fairly easy to see why those breweries along Broadway survived—access to the river. The river provided clear, clean water year round, as well as easy transportation to and from village. The breweries along Broadway had clear access to the waterfront, while the more westerly breweries along the Ruttenkill had to move their beer across the village to access the wharf. Also, the Hudson, even in the driest years, wasn’t going to run dry, while the smaller creeks, may have. The brewery in the fort, albeit close to the river, doesn’t have the support that the village supplied. It, like the Ruttenkill breweries, fails fairly quickly.

Along with the zones, the number of breweries operating also intrigues me. Twelve breweries operate in Beverwijck, alone—twelve breweries to supply, at maximum, 1000 people. That seems a bit much, to me. Kiliaen van Rennselaer gives a clue in a letter to Johannes de Laet in, 1632. Van Rennselaer states, “As soon as there is a supply of grain on, I intend to erect a brewery to provide all New Netherland with beer…” It’s an interesting concept to think Bevewijck may have been supplying the whole of New Netherlands with beer, just as Albany would for the rest of the country, 200 years later. No evidence of that, but interesting anyhow.

So there you go—brewing zones in 17th Century Dutch New York. The next installment is British-colonial Albany brewing.  For now though, lets just give a big ol’ whew this post is done!

*Kill is the Dutch word for creek.

**I can’t take the credit for digging a lot of this info up, most of the information came from Janney Venema’s amazing book Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652-1664 (2010), cross-referenced with volume 4 of Joel Munsell’s Collections on the history of Albany: from its discovery to the present time; with notices of its public institutions, and biographical sketches of citizens deceased (1865).