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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Gary Gillman -

Albany was in my mind too Alan, back in the 1980's when Bill and Marie Newman ran a pioneer craft ale brewery, William S. Newman Brewing Company. Bill had worked for the State government, I think as a budgetary analyst, before going into this venture, and made a number of tasty ales in an old industrial district not far from downtown.

Later in the 80's when I first went to England, my first taste of real ale there brought back, not the filtered, chilled west coast micro beers, but Bill's beers, he really nailed the style.

He used to hold brewing seminars on weekends to earn extra money and I attended one, which assisted my later extensive reading on the subject.

There was a bar next to the brewery which sold the beers, not owned by the brewery. It must have been an old working man's resort, a survival of the time when the area was replete with factories and employment.

The brewery later closed but Albany Amber, a bottled version, was sold for some years, made under contract in Utica I believe.

Bill and Marie were pioneers in U.S. craft brewing and as Michael Jackson wrote, ahead of their time. They may still live in the area, I don't know.

There were a couple of beverage discount stores (maybe still are) in the city, and the range of imports even then was very good. I used to buy Murphy stout in bottles which had a marked roasty/burned wood-taste, beers from Alsace (La Belle Strasbourgeoise), Germany (Dinkelacker - drink the Dink went the slogan), the spritzy Wurzburger, and many still available today. I remember that Merchant du Vin, the pioneering U.S. beer import specialists, had a display at one of them and so you could get gueuze, kriek, Trappist, oatmeal stout, porter, and other styles now mainstays of the international beer scene.

Jack's Oyster House was a favoured dinner place downtown, it is still there, and cherrystone clams and a Michelob were a pretty good combo let me tell you.

Finally, there was a corner bar and restaurant further uptown we liked, I think it was MacGregor's. The name in any case was the name of a nearby street - probably it had moved years earlier - so we always had a problem finding it the next time, which was part of the fun. It had a mix of regional lagers, national ones and the emerging micros. They made bloody marys with horseradish floating in it, first time I had seen that. It was in a leafy residential area.

There was a quietude around the downtown and river which suggested a much more active place generations earlier. The Egg was there, which gave it a hopeful modernity, but overall I had the sense of an old place which had seen a lot of changes.

I always liked it there and would like to go back some day.


Alan -

Here is more on Newman from a 2007 Beerjanglin' blog post.

Alan -

And that post links back to my cut and paste archive of the 1987 article "A Glass of Handmade" which contains this reference:

"...an authentic traditional brew was available in Albany, New York, a city once notable for its ales..."


Gary Gillman -

That's very interesting Alan, thanks. I remember the cubes well. It's true that they had to be consumed quickly, there was relatively little CO2 in them to start with. I didn't know about Saratoga Lager, it sounds like a good idea.

I didn't know Jim Koch had worked there either.

Bill Newman did know by the way about Albany's former renown as an ale brewing city. He was well aware of it and wanted in his own way to revive the tradition. But it was not an easy thing to promote at the time..

Thanks much again for finding this.


ethan -

Well! You have outdone yourself yet again...