Death of a Contract Brewer

The Chosen One has arrived.







After 16 years as one of contract brewing’s loudest cheerleaders,Shmaltz Brewing company, handcrafters of HE’BREW – The Chosen Beer® and Coney Island Craft Lagers®, is breaking with tradition and opening its own New York State production brewery. Located in Clifton Park, NY, 10 minutes north of Albany’s capital district, Shmaltz’s new home boasts a 50-barrel brewhouse with 20,000 barrels of annual capacity. With a $3.25 million dollar budget and countless hours of planning and preparation, what began as an improbable fantasy only one year ago, has blossomed into a nearly 20,000 square foot brewing reality.

Barrington Brewery

Located in Great Barrington MA, the Barrington Brewery brews up barrels of bubbly beer in the beautiful Berkshires. (try and beat that alliteration)

We started with the sampler made up of their: Blonde, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Stout, & Oktoberfest. All of them were lacking body and seemed to be afraid of making a statement in flavor. Their conservative taste might appeal more to the masses but I was hoping for something a little more. They were, however, all clean and quality made.

A little investigation revealed a couple beers not on the menu. One was a dark amber and the other was an IPA. Both of these were the best beers there. (They also had a raspberry and something else we didn’t try) Still, these beers were only OK and nothing to write about. (unless you’re blogging about beer on 

The restaurant touts all of their home made food and overall it was pretty good. My home made split pea and sausage soup was great and the brisket wasn’t bad considering how far we are from Texas.

The dessert tries speaks for itself and the restaurant touts that it has been featured in magazines but as I walk out, I wonder why…

Reminder: Session #28 – June 5, 2009

The Session - Beer Blogging FridayThe Session is a monthly one-day event held by beer bloggers around the world, where they each post their thoughts on a unified theme.

That theme, for June, is Think/Drink Globally, hosted by Brian Yaeger at Red, White, and Brew.

American Craft Beer Week is May 11-17. But us beer bloggers know that craft beer is to be supported year-round, and that it doesn’t just come from America. So, in honor of Global Craft Beer Forever, I pose everyone writes about the farthest brewery (including brewpubs) you have visited and specifically the best beer you had there. Again, not your favorite or any old brewery you’ve been to, but the one that is the longest haul away, be it by airplane, car, ferry, rickshaw, whatever. (If you blog about beer but have never been to a House of Brewing, get on it!)

Then, the last part, since this exercise gives us an excuse to drink beer, do one of the following:

  • if you brought home a bottle while visiting the brewery and have it secreted away, crack it open.
  • if you don’t have any left from that visit but the particular beer is available where you live (or if not your fave from said brewery, another brand from it), go get one.
  • otherwise, find a local beer of the same style and do a little compare and contrast.

This episode of the Session will take place on June 5, 2009. Details here: Session #28:Think/Drink Globally

Utica Brewery Burns in Toxic Fire

Just hours ago, a fire broke out at the historic F.X. Matt Utica Brewery in upstate New York. The fire is believed to have started in the bottling portion of the plant where a machine is used to put plastic on six packs.

The roof and the 3rd floor have collapsed. Worse, the fire is burning plastics and other materials creating toxic fumes. Five blocks surrounding the brewery have been evacuated. Also troubling is a vat of ammonia which has the potential of exploding if the fire reaches it.

The building has many large cracks in it and firefighters fear it may collapse. The fire hasn’t yet spread to the main brewery next door.

The fire broke out just as the weekly Thursday evening Saranac Music event was getting started.

At least two people have been injured and have been sent to the hospital.

The FX Matt Brewery is primarily known for Utica Club and the Saranac line of beers, but they are also a large contract brewer for Brooklyn Brewery, Samuel Adams, and many others.

Look at the Observer-Dispatch for more coverage, photos and video.

Update: As of 11:30 PM, Thursday night, May 30 2008, the fire was not yet under control. The ammonia tank has not exploded which could level all of the buildings.

Update – 4-June-2008: The brewery is operational, although canning and bottling operations will need to be outsourced for a time. (via Dowd’s Brews Notebook)