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Beer, Booze & Brunch

September 29, 2017

Last weekend I got to organize something amazing. I say organize, because part of my “day job” is to put together Official Yelp Events with local businesses.

We call them OYEs and they are always a lot of fun. They are free, private events for the Yelp community, where businesses have a chance to demonstrate what it is that makes them super special.

There are people like me who work for Yelp in cities all around the world. And we all take different approaches to event planning. Mine is finding a great partner, who understands the value of the opportunity, and letting them run with it. Kurt from Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs got in touch with me over the summer, and wanted to get the Yelp community into his brewery. We found a date in September that worked for everybody. And from there, Dan Kravitz who is the new General Manager over at Artisanal took over.

Dan brought a couple other partners on board. Upstate Distilling Company has its still and tasting room in the same building as Artisanal Brew Works. Ryen and Glenna were giving tours and pouring samples of their spirits to taste. Chef Jeremy Roosa worked with Dan at The Bier Abbey, and is now working to elevate the food program at Gaffney’s. Currently his brunch menu runs on Sundays, and he agreed to come in and cook a few of his favorite dishes.

Coming out of this event, there are a few things I realized you should know.

1) Go to Gaffney’s on Sunday for brunch

I wanted to write this post on Monday immediately after the event, but I figured it would be too long between reading the post and waiting for Sunday to roll around. The pictures of the dishes below, are what Jeremy Roosa was able to produce in a tiny corner of the tasting room using portable equipment. His food was dynamite. You can read what people had to say about it here.

Chicken and waffles | Vegetable hash | Bananas foster french toast | Corned beef benedict

I’m just bummed that I only got to try the vegetable hash last weekend. Still, it was fantastic. The brussels, the potatoes, the sauce, the egg. Everything earned its spot on the plate. And unfortunately for me, Sundays are hard to get to Saratoga for brunch. The good news is that I hear Jeremy is going to expand brunch to Saturdays too. Then I might be able to get some of his corned beef benedict on a pretzel with beer cheese. It sounds incredible.

2. There is a serious distillery in Saratoga Springs

Every now and again I learn about a business that has somehow slipped through the cracks of my awareness. Local craft distilling has long been a passion of mine. I’ve been a fan of Harvest Spirits since the beginning and have enjoyed watching the distillery grow. I sat down with Matt and John at Albany Distilling Co. before they opened to the public, and gave them some ideas about how to put their spirits front and center in a few different classic cocktails.

Which is why it’s extra embarrassing that Upstate Distilling Company wasn’t on my radar.

In my defense, I think I was getting them confused with the other spirits producer in Saratoga Springs that also leverages “Saratoga” and uses horse racing words in its products.

But Upstate Distilling Company is the real deal. They have their own still, and they are making their own spirits. Yes, they have a vodka. It’s called Blinders, and it’s made from a blend of wheat and rye. But they also have a range of aged whiskeys that are made in small batches and in very limited quantities.

Anyhow, Glenna was mixing their vodka into a delicious white bloody mary. Yep. White. The flavors of tomato and horseradish are infused into a vinegar base, and the whole thing is topped with seltzer. Kind of like a bloody mary shrub. I’m not a big bloody mary fan, but this was great.

Before leaving, I bought a bottle of the unaged white whiskey, which I first experienced this summer at Pitney Meadows Farm in a delightful milk punch cocktail. Now that I own a bottle of it, I may try to recreate the experience.

Now I have to get back there and do a full tasting of Ryen’s aged whiskeys. A few Yelpers were able to walk away with the exceedingly rare bottles of rye aged in honey casks. As for me, my bar is already over full with brown spirits. I need to drink more so I can buy more.

3. Artisanal Brew Works is making some delicious beer

While I missed the tour, I spoke with Kurt before, and am aware of at least some of the things he and Colln go through to make their products. It seemed as almost everyone who came to the event had a different favorite beer.

I’ve been trying to expand beyond IPAs lately, and really enjoy the ABW brown ale. So I picked up a four pack of cans to bring back home, and had one in a warm bath later that night. Beer in the bathtub with a good magazine is a very special treat indeed.

Sorry for the mental picture.


Official Yelp Events happen all the time. It’s one of the most fun parts of my job. We’re having another one on Monday at IL Faro to taste all the items on the happy hour menu, and I can’t wait. Unfortunately, the event is totally full. Those who go will get to hang out with two local beverage industry living legends, Joe Armstrong and Jeremy Irving.

But keep your eyes open on the Yelp events page. New events are posted all the time. It’s always great when worlds collide and we get more FLB readers joining me in Yelp activities.

Have a great weekend. If you’re observing the holiday, I hope you have a meaningful fast.
See you in October!

 

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 29, 2017 11:52 am

    The even more appealing news about Gaffney’s is that they are going to start offering barbecue in the evening. Judging from Jeremy Roosa’s results with the brunch dishes, I will predict this will not be the typical Upstate meat with sweet sauce, but quality meat that is seriously smoked.

    Insert “feeling excited” emoji here.

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