A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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dave -

You might already have this info but here are some Albany, NY breweries from 1910 (not as old as the info in previous posts but it might help in searching):
Consumers Albany Brewing Co.
Kirchner Brewing Co.
Quinn & Nolan Brewing Co.
Hedrick Brewing Co.
Hinckel Brewing Co.
Dobler Brewing Co.
Beverwyck Brewing Co.


Jaco (Chile) -

all the Albany Ale research sounds great for become a documentary or something like it... hope some smart filmaker thinks the same...

Alan -

I just want the t-shirt.

Craig X -

Okay, I'm outing myself. Craig Gravina, 35 years old, married, two kids. Albany, NY (Hey, you see the connection now) Exhibit Graphic Designer, NYS Museum. I like beer (really?), WWII, and BBQ.

Stumbled upon this whole thing looking for Colonial Dutch brewing records of the New Netherland colony.

For Ron.

Even though he never asked me to do that.

I've had a long fascination with history. I love the city of Albany and all of it's quirky history, but believe me I never knew any of this. In fact I would wager that most of the historians that I work with on a day to day basis don't know anything about this topic. That's not to say I don't have them looking through out collections for anything with Albany Ale on it!

I do like the name Craig X, however

Alan -

Thanks, baby. You go. If you get real good at this we'll call you Craig XXX. And in 2016 we'll all be drinking this stuff, toasting the edge of the universe Dutch and William Johnson, too, on the 10% soft water wheat malt hoppy nuttiness that is Albany Ale.

Gary Gillman -

Alan, as this source shows, Albany means highlands in Celt tongues and is an old term for Scotland. It seems to me likely that the stronger type of beer made in Albany, New York in the 1700's-1800's acquired an unusual renown simply because by happy accident, Scotch ale was known internationally as a strong beer of fine quality. Sort of like bonded whiskey in the U.S. being regarded as special because bond happens to mean promise, not just a place in the warehouse where liquor may be kept pending payment of the excise. (It gets complicated, because bonded whiskey was a whiskey made to assure a certain minimum quality, but its special aura in the marketplace was due to more than that IMO).


Alan -

I think you will find "Albany" shows up fairly late in ths history of Albany, Gary. This is a little pocket of resilieint and autonomous Dutchmen that gets infused with Yankees at some next early point. They clearly figure out an seafaring export trade between 1800 and 1820 but were also doing something for over 150 years before that. The area is the bread basket of the pre-Revolutionary northern USA and is next to the fist US hops centre. They are up to something.

Gary Gillman -

Hi Alan. It's reasonable to suppose that a distinctive style of beer might have been influenced by inherited Dutch traditions, but the name of the city is very old, as Wikipedia attests (I removed the footnote numbers to make it quite easier to read):

"When New Netherland was captured by the English in 1664, the name Beverwijck was changed to Albany, in honor of the Duke of Albany (later James II of England). Duke of Albany was a Scottish title given since 1398, generally to a younger son of the King of Scots. The name is ultimately derived from Alba, the Gaelic name for Scotland. The Dutch briefly regained Albany in August 1673 and renamed the city Willemstadt; the English took permanent possession with the Treaty of Westminster (1674)".

Whatever kind of beer it was, it would have been known as ale from Albany from the 1664 on. And therefore, I speculate that the reputation of the beer benefited from the one internationally associated with Scotch ale in the 1700's and 1800's. I doubt much beer was dealt in commercially in Albany County until the 1700's and especially 1800's when transportation improved; by then the beer's origin had (I speculate again) a happy connection in buyer's minds with the quality of Scotch ale.



Craig -

I have to think that Albany Ale gained it's popularity in the mid 1800's. Say at at a height by about 1850. By that date, the dutch influence would have been almost negligible. The English viewed the Dutch as a bit slovenly. There reputation would be shall I say, sullied after control of the area fell to the Brits. Doing things in the "Dutch way" after 1670, probably would not have been very fashionable.

The extent of the distribution of Albany Ales is in direct correlation to the completion of the erie canal. The canal opened in 1825 and Albany boomed. EVERYTHING could now be shipped south via the Hudson River to the port of New York City and west via the canal to Buffalo, through the Great Lakes to Chicago and North to Canada. Cheap hops in central NY also helped a bit!

I do live off of New Scotland Avenue. Although, as much as I would love to get behind the Scotch Ale theory, Albany wasn't heavily populated by Scots. Albany was named after, The Duke of Albany, as a token of esteem, not because it had a high density of kilt wearing red heads. Some rich guy named it after another rich guy. By the time Albany Ale gained notoriety, around 1840, the major ethnic population in the Area would have been Irish and German.

The connection seems too great that Taylor & Sons was by 1850 the largest brewery in the States and that we have a noted distribution of Albany Ale as far west as New Orleans. I have to say that they to names are one and the same. What the actual beer was, is still up in the air. We do, however, have documentation that Taylor produced an Imperial Cream Ale of some note.

Gary Gillman -

I was thinking, in terms of a projected association in consumers' minds with Scotch ale, of export markets. Alan had mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and I believe other Colonial possessions, and also England. A provisioner on Water Street in St. John's Newfoundland, or one in Halifax, Nova Scotia, might have associated Albany ale with Scotch ale due to the similarity of the names. British/Colonial merchants of the day would probably have picked up quite quickly on the etymology, just as today many people know that Nova Scotia means New Scotland.

One thing I have noticed is that Albany ale was strong - very. Reports indicate about 8% ABV for barreled beer and over 10% for bottled. Scotch ale - the bottled was typical for export - was strong but not that strong, around 8%. As much as any association with Scotch ale, it may have been favoured in export markets for its high strength.


Alan -

I have the stuff in Texas and Newfoundland, Craig. As well as some reference to South America and California. I don't think I has seen it yet going east to Britain but that might require review of ads in ports like Bristol. It would be interesting if in the time between the coronation of George III and Vickie Taunton ale was coming west and the same ship going east included Albany ale.

Remember also that Brtian was blockading US trade off and on in the 1775 to 1815 period. That this ale gets to Newfoundland in the 1820s in quite remarkable from an international peace perspective. Also remember that Halifax after the Revolution was full of Anglo-American Tories who would have enjoyed Albany Ale before the war.