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At Drink Schenectady, 'you are supporting local'

At Drink Schenectady, 'you are supporting local'

Event on April 15 at Armory
At Drink Schenectady, 'you are supporting local'
A craft beer during LarkFest in 2015.
Photographer: Daily Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY -- The brewers, distillers, fermenters and vintners of the Capital Region will take over the Schenectady Armory for an afternoon next month to showcase their ever-increasing range of craft beverages.

Drink Schenectady follows the model of the Drink Albany events previously staged by the Capital Craft Beverage Trail, which is organizing this event as well.

The idea, said Joe Bonilla, executive director of the trail, is to spread the events through the three largest cities of the Capital Region: Albany, Schenectady and Troy.

The beauty of the Armory, he said, is that it’s weatherproof. Also, beer trucks with taps can be driven right onto the main event floor.

“It's a fantastic space,” Bonilla said.

The event will run from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 15. Tickets are $35 before April 1 or $40 after, and include a glass for the samples being offered. A $60 VIP ticket brings its holder some specialty cocktails made with spirits being promoted at the event. Ticket sales are online through Eventbrite.

Bonilla said the Capital Craft Beverage Trail originally was limited to the area surrounding Albany, but has since expanded. Craft beverage producers in 10 counties are eligible to participate.

Sixteen of them will be at Drink Schenectady.

Bonilla, who runs a public relations firm by day, said the idea of the trail is to promote beer, cider, wine and spirits produced locally on the micro-scale as an alternative to mass-produced beverages. The idea of the Drink events is to bring a bunch of these new tastes together in one space, so that fans can see what they like without a lot of traveling.

“We're building this trail [to] advocate for the market,” he said. “You are supporting local, you're supporting folks in your neighborhood.”

Bonilla is not himself a distiller, or even a home brewer. He just likes immersing himself in the craft beverage community as it grows, and uses the short history of the Nine Pin Cider in Albany to explain why. Nine Pin was just a concept a relatively short time ago. When the state in 2013 enacted tax breaks for smaller cider producers that use only New York-grown apples, it became the first farm cidery in the state. Today its cider is sold in 1,200 locations.

“I love just being part of that,” Bonilla said.

The range of products available at Drink Schenectady will be wide enough for most tastes -- not the same as what one finds on the mass market, but that’s the whole point, in a way.

“We want this to really showcase that we're able to compete against the big guys,” Bonilla said.

Beyond alcohol, Drink Schenectady will feature food and entertainment. The Trail is partnering with WEQX to put some local musicians on stage during the event.

Kids can’t drink at the event, of course, but neither will they be bored, as games including life-size Jenga blocks will be set up.

“Yeah, the purpose is try out local beverages, but it’s a day for everybody,” Bonilla said.

The producers

The following Capital Craft Beverage Trail members will be participating in Drink Schenectady on April 15 at the Schenectady Armory:

—The Albany Distilling Company
—Nine Pin Cider
—C.H. Evans Brewing Albany Pump Station
—Druthers Brewing Company
—Helderberg Brewery
—Helderberg Mountain Brewing Company
—Indian Ladder Farmstead Cidery and Brewery
—The Beer Diviner
—Wolf Hollow Brewing Company
—Brown's Brewing Company
—S&S Farm Brewery
—Altamont Vineyard and Winery
—Common Roots Brewing Company
—Crossroads Brewing Company
—Chatham Brewing
—Upstate Distilling Company

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