So, we were in Albany for an Albany Ale Project event at the Albany Institute of History and Art. A five hour drive there and, oddly, a five hour drive back. We had a lot of fun over the 19 hours we were in town but most importantly we did three beery things. The event at the Institute, beers after at the Lionheart Pub and this morning a vibrant shopping spree at the ever excellent Oliver's Beverage.
First, the Institute. To say that the staff were supportive of the release of a recreation of a 1901 Albany Ale would be a vast understatement. The rooms in the Rice House where the event was held were adorned as much as accented by artifacts from Albany's brewing past. Trade posters going back to the 1840s, paintings of breweries as well as the actual brewing log from which the beer was reborn were set out with curatorial care. Ryan Demler from C.H. Evans, the brewer who revived the beer, co-hosted along with me following Craig's lead. Hop grower Dietrich Gehring was there. Historians were there, archivists were there, other brewers were there and a very nice camera crew from YNN news was there. That shadowy picture? That is me and Craig giving a little speech as Ryan ran back to the brewery for another keg. They say a black top slims. So does a half-lit room. Here is a better one, an action shot. Anyway, The beer was great and maybe represented a transition. By 1901, it is a weaker version of Albany Ale far short of the 8 to 10% form it would have taken half a century before. It is also a beer that represents its times so there is corn in the ale along with the malts. And there is invert sugar. So, the taste was a bit of a 1900s beer with a lot of an 1800s ale nicely cut with a black tea hopping.
After the event and after having dinner at the sort of Mexican restaurant that doesn't exist in my Canada, we hit the Lionheart Pub. We quickly learned that Halloween was still going and also that those under half my age still drink a hell of a lot. The place filled up and we made our excuses a little early. But the place is the sort of bar that the world needs more of. Dedicated to craft beer, there were a ton of taps. But not by the precious snifter if you didn't want it. Prices were reasonable and the staff were interested enough to agree to put the 1901 ale on tap. Ethan and some pals from Community Beer Works were there, too, after delivering some kegs from the Buffalo brewery. He gave me a hoodie. A big one. I gave him a big hug. I actually did. I am told he snuggled in. The US pint of their brown ale, The Whale, was a real treat. Brown malt yum.
And Oliver's. I came away with a couple of sixes from Bells, a mix box of craft beer bombers as well as a mixed box of craft ciders. That threw the border customs officer for a bit of a loop but as I paid my way I praised the need for the funkier sort of cider we have yet to develop in Canada. One point. The picture way up there? Look at the prices. Look at the prices for the same beers at the LCBO. Then look at the price for this upcoming beer dinner... [cough]*jacked*[cough]... Does not compute on a couple of levels. Likewise, to be fair, the prices of some of the upper end US craft beers at Oliver's though I suspect its due to others further down on the supply chain. The day is just not here I buy a 750 ml for well north of twenty bucks for an experiment from a brewer who has disappointed before. Especially in a place where so much to offer at much more realistic prices. I did buy a Mischief as well as a couple of bombers from the new NY nano, The Beer Diviner Which were selling for about a third of the worst offender above - and also a couple from a new brewery for me, Buzzards Bay at a very reasonable $5.99. That's a better experimental price point. Very best thing? I now have three bombers of Ron's 1855 East India Porter brewed by Pretty Things. A wee Christmas giftie to me and... well, just me actually.