By Steve Barnes Senior writerA little brew pub in Lake George Village is in the middle of an expansion in production capabilities that, within a couple of years, could vault it into the ranks of the top 10 brew pubs in the nation, as measured by volume of beer produced.
Published 12:01 a.m., Sunday, June 19, 2011
Adirondack Pub & Brewery, founded in 1999, grew slowly until last year, when owner John Carr began an aggressive plan to widen the reach of his Adirondack-brand beers. Adding a 60-barrel production tank quadrupled Carr's volume, and he plans to bring another 60-barrel tank online after expanding the pub's Canada Street facility.
This winter, the brewery began bottling its beer, and, after years of self-distribution, it is now represented by DeCrescente Distributing of Mechanicville, which covers 11 counties. A year after Adirondack brews were available at the pub and about 40 bars from Chestertown to Glens Falls, they are now sold at more than 150 locations including North Country Price Choppers and Capital Region beverage centers.
The brewery produced about 700 barrels of beer in 2010. (One barrel, the industry's standard measure of volume, is equal to 31 gallons.) Last year, Adirondack's production ranked 391st out of nearly 1,000 brew pubs tracked by New Brewer magazine. Within a couple of years, according to Carr's plan, his brewery will be making 5,000 barrels, which would put it in eighth place on New Brewer's list. (In the Capital Region, Brown's Brewing in Troy ranks 33rd; Davidson Brothers in Glens Falls 180th; the Albany Pump Station 241st.)
"The demand just keeps growing," marvels Carr, who started as a homebrewer in 1989 because, he says, "I was bored with the beer I could afford and couldn't afford the beer I liked."
He adds, "We have to expand more -- we can't keep up. We're at production capacity." (The brewery produces 50 barrels per week.)
The pub currently has 12 beers on tap and available in kegs, from light lagers and wheat beers to an intensely hoppy double IPA brewed with 45 pounds of honey from Ballston Lake Apiaries and a coffee-chocolate stout made with Guatemalan chocolate and coffee roasted by the nearby Caffe Vero in Lake George Village.
One of Adirondack's limited-production specialty brews, being sold only in bottles at the brewery, is a Belgian amber ale aged for three months in apple-brandy barrels. Available starting later this week, the beer costs $18 for a four-pack, about $10 more than the suggested retail for six-packs of the three beers Adirondack regularly bottles: the copper-colored Bear Naked Ale, a citrusy wheat beer called Dirty Blond and a seasonal brew that, for the summer, is a traditional Bavarian hefeweizen that offers hints of clove and banana.
"It's an excellent product that's always consistent and has been very well received by restaurants," says Larry Nichols, a district manager for DeCrescente, who brought Adirondack aboard as a distribution client. (Adirondack is the only brand made in the greater Capital Region carried by the distributor.)
The Adirondack name and the famed purity of Lake George's water, used to brew Adirondack's products, make the beer an easy sell to new customers, Nichols says.
"Sometimes, if a beer is too local it's a hard sell outside of its immediate area but everybody knows Lake George," he says. "The Adirondack name makes it a natural for places from Montreal all the way down the Hudson Valley and into the western part of the state."
Carr is pleased with the relationship with DeCrescente, which, as the largest beer distributor in upstate New York, has the infrastructure in place to handle billings, orders, delivery, retrieval of empty kegs and all of the other logistical hassles of getting Adirondack's products to a larger audience.
"It frees us up to do what we really should be focusing on -- brewing beer," says Carr, who was head brewer until four years ago, when he turned the duties over to a young Michigander named Adam Schmeichel.
Says Carr, "Adam represents the avant-garde of contemporary brewing. I'm excited for us to be a part of that."