Local Bounty: Stump City Brewing outside Gloversville weathers pandemic storm, eyes best year yet (with 9 photos)

Stump City Brewing co-owner Nick Sherman pours a glass of KL Honey Brown at the brewing facility in Gloversville.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Stump City Brewing co-owner Nick Sherman pours a glass of KL Honey Brown at the brewing facility in Gloversville.

GLOVERSVILLE When the weather turns warm, there’s nothing like gathering a few friends in the backyard and kicking back with a cold beer.

On a country road in Gloversville, Stump City Brewing has that atmosphere, with picnic tables under tall pines, a big white tent with a stage for live music, a food truck and burgers sizzling on the grill.

A few feet away, in a building that’s not unlike an Adirondack camp, nine taps pump out craft brews, including Cayadutta Cream Ale, High Hop IPA and Stump City Red Ale. From the 10th tap flows Secret Cider, made with apples from Rogers Family Orchards in Johnstown.

And did we mention the homemade sauerkraut?                                                                  

After a tough couple of years due to COVID, Stump City is hopping once again, with its operators predicting that the New York state farm brewery’s fifth year in business will be the best yet.

“It’s definitely picking up,” says Nick Sherman, one of five owners. “People are starting to get a little braver. They are coming back.”

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”63″ display=”basic_imagebrowser”]Nick, his brother, Matt, and their friend, Casey Oare, who started out home-brewing in the garage and basement of the Sherman house, now run their professional beer business in the backyard of the Sherman brothers’ childhood home on land that was once woods and fields.

Nick, Matt, Casey and Jerry Sherman, the brothers’ father, the original owners of Stump City, recently added a fifth partner, Kevin Lindsley of Johnstown. Matt, Casey and Kevin have regular jobs outside the brewery. Nick is a full-time employee, and there are four part-time bartenders and food truck workers.

Next to the taproom, Nick, Matt and Kevin create the beer in a five-barrel brewery (each barrel is 31 gallons) that has been upgraded with a new grain augur and grain mill to crack and transfer grain; a secondary pilot brewing system for small batches; and a canning machine.

A New York farm brewery license requires that at least 60% of the hops and 60% of all other ingredients must be grown in the state.

“We’re floating around 85%,” Nick Sherman says.

The taproom is woodsy and welcoming, with six tables and a handsome oak bar crafted from trees that were cleared from the property. The ceiling is made of donated corrugated sheet metal and the hemlock planks in the floor were salvaged from a nearby house. Old photos of the Gloversville leather industry, brought in by customers, hang on the wall.

“We got the zoning variance and cleared all the land. We built the building,” Nick Sherman says. “We did everything except physically pour the concrete, the electrical and the refrigeration. And there were plenty of people that came out that just wanted to help.”

When COVID hit in the brewery’s third year, local folks came to their aid, buying beer to-go.

“That helped us get over the hump, where we could half operate and pay the bills,” Sherman says.

This spring, production and distribution are ramping up.

“We were doing something like a 100 to 150 barrels. Now we’re probably going to be shooting for just under 200 this year. If we can manage it, we’ll be a little over 200 next year.”

In cans or kegs, the beer is served in a few bars in town and at two local beer retailers. At the taproom, customers can refill “crowlers,” 24.5-ounce metal containers.

“My goal is to put it in every place we can in Fulton County,” Sherman says. And word is spreading. Earlier this month, they were handing out samples at the popular Night at the Brewseum event in Saratoga Springs. This summer, their beer will be on tap during music events at the Caroga Arts Collective, a nonprofit that’s on a mission to build an 800-seat lakeside amphitheater on the grounds of the former Sherman’s Amusement Park. In September, Stump City will be returning to Gloversville’s Bacon & Brew Fest.

“And we have the 44 Lakes Craft Beverage Trail that started up last year,” Sherman says.

At the taproom, their red ale is the most requested beer and a mainstay of a menu that changes about once a month. With the new pilot brewing system, soon there will be “something new potentially every week or every other week,” Sherman promises. “But those will be one keg at a time.”

They don’t do a lot of IPAs.

“The local community hasn’t shown a lot of desire for it. They like your easy-drinking beers, your red ale, your cream ale, your wheat ale, something on the lighter side,” he says.

“There are a lot of people still learning about what beers are out there and we’ve had a lot of people change their minds. That was one of our goals coming into this, to try to educate the community about different types of beer.”

For nonbeer drinkers, they mix cocktails made with New York-produced vodka, gin and whiskey.

“We’re a farm brewery. We have to use farm products. So we can’t do rum, we can’t do tequila,” Sherman says.

The taproom is open year-round, and to keep things rolling when the weather was cold there have been Friday theme nights and occasional live music. In March, they did a chocolate night featuring confections from a local chocolatier, and on April 1 they did “pretzel night.”

Last July, Stump City hosted a mini music festival on the outdoor stage with Free Range Strange, Steve Tombstone, Insolent Willies, Tim Vee and Son of a Gun.

And each year they brew a special beer to raise funds for the Fulton County Regional SPCA.

Their food truck has been a hit, too.

“Smash burgers,” which debuted last year, are coming back, made with beef from nearby Dreamroads Farm.

“You can hear the cows moo from here,” Sherman says.

And the sauerkraut?

That project was the brainchild of brother Matt and the late Russel Dettenrieder, a beloved local chef. Made from Western New York cabbage, the kraut is sold in the taproom and to local restaurants.

“We’re going to try and can it this year,” says Sherman.

Connecting with the Fulton County community and other craft beer makers around the Capital Region is one of the pleasures of his job, he adds.

“We have our regulars who come in, and to some degree they are like mentors. They tell us their stories and we can learn from them.”

Every weekend, one or two owners are in the taproom, bartending or just hanging out.

“We find it to be pretty important to sit down and talk to people,” Sherman says. “They didn’t come up here to just try the beer. They want the whole experience.”

Stump City Brewing is located at 521 W. Fulton St. Ext., Gloversville. For information, visit stumpcitybrewery.com or call 518-831-0722.

Beverage trail

  • The 44 Lakes Craft Beverage Trail has expanded and now offers eight stops for craft beer, wine, spirits and cider:
  • Eisenadler Brauhaus, Palatine Bridge
  • Erie Canal Distillers, Fort Plain
  • Great Sacandaga Brewing Company, Broadalbin
  • Higher Ground Distilling, Mayfield
  • Hummingbird Hills Winery, Fultonville
  • Kessler Brewing Company, Mayfield
  • Stump City Brewing, Gloversville
  • Rogers Cideryard, Gloversville

“There will be a passport and smartphone app in the future, hopefully this summer,” says Anne Boles, director of tourism for Fulton County. For information, visit 44lakes.com or Facebook.

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