A side note: While I love beer traveling for New England craft beer and beyond, I feel like there could be better coverage of craft beer in the Capital District and Upstate New York. I’ve decided in 2014 to do my part to advocate beer in Upstate NY, cover more local events, and try to speak to current discussions in the beer world from the perspective of someone living in the Capital District, rather than someone who can do a 17 hour long beer run on a moment’s notice. I’m floating around the idea of a new website. Stay tuned.
RateBeer released their annual “Top Beers in the World” list today and sadly, New York does not have any representation. (Evil Twin has moved their head office to Brooklyn, NY, but until they start contracting their beer here I cannot consider them a New York Brewery.) Concerned by this, I had to take a look back to the past lists to see which, if any, New York beers have appeared on this list.
Honestly, the results are pretty grim. Only four NY breweries have ever been on the list with Southern Tier taking the most spots overall.
- Captain Lawrence Cuvee de Castleton (2008, 2009, 2010)
- Ommegang Rouge Grand Cru (2010)
- Southampton Imperial Stout (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011)
- Southern Tier Choklat (2009, 2012, 2013)
- Southern Tier Jah-Va (2008)
- Southern Tier Oat (2008)
Personally, Ommegang’s beer shouldn’t be considered given that it was brewed by Bockor in Belgium and the recipe would eventually be tweaked, becoming Bockor’s acclaimed Cuvée Des Jacobins Rouge as a result. Captain Lawrence’s Cuvée de Castleton hasn’t been released since 2011 and has no indication that it will make an appearance again any time soon. And both Southern Tier’s Oat and Jah-Va have presumably been discontinued.
That leaves us with Southampton’s Imperial Stout, slated for release this weekend albeit under new brewer Evan Addario. And Southern Tier’s Choklat is ancient at this point when it comes to the craft beer world and as I’ve said before, it’s something I serve to people who do not like the taste of beer.
That’s pretty… bleak for NY Craft beer in general. The story over at BeerAdvocate is not much better. There are zero New York beers in their Top 50, and the first New York beer does not appear until #187 with Captain Lawrence’s Cuvée de Castleton. And with the same caveat mentioned above it brings us to again sadly to #213, Choklat.
All is not lost as some of the breweries that did make the list are seeing regular distribution in Upstate NY. AleSmith, Bell’s, Firestone Walker and Founder’s have exploded in our area recently and we even see some of their limited beers making it our way as well (even if acquiring them is not that easy).
Vermont beer dominates the list much like last year. And while getting your hands on any of the beers from The Alchemist, Hill Farmstead, or Lawson’s that appear on the list requires a three to four hour drive from the Capital District, it’s absolutely worth it. Anyone into craft beer around here who hasn’t taken the trip shouldn’t be taken seriously.
As for our lack of representation for NY breweries, this isn’t good, and I don’t think there’s much we as craft beer drinkers can do about it. The best thing we can do is demand the best from the breweries we have here, encourage them to continuously perfect their craft and to never settle.