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Red, White & Brew party reigns at Proctors

Red, White & Brew party reigns at Proctors

Fun time on a warm, rainy evening
Red, White & Brew party reigns at Proctors
Michelle Contreras of Glenville samples some beer at the 5th Annual Red White & Brew Festival.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Cold bottles of beers are great company on a hot summer night.

They're also fine companions on a hot, rainy summer night.

The latter partnership was in play Friday as hundreds sipped and socialized inside Robb Alley and the GE Theatre at Proctors in Schenectady. The Red, White and Brew Festival gave people the chance to try 30 different craft beers and ciders, eat barbecued pork and bacon and listen to rock 'n' roll music.

"We decided to do a kick-off for the Fourth of July," said Molly Tocin, manager of special events for Proctors. "It's a fun Friday night activity."

Afternoon rain convinced organizers to move the show -- originally scheduled outside for the Clinton South parking lot behind Proctors -- into the Robb-GE spaces. Steady and occasionally heavy early evening rain validated the decision.

For $30, beer lovers received a miniature hard plastic mug that held four ounces of beer. The mugs came stuffed with 15 red tickets, each pass good for a sample of suds. Designated drivers paid $15, which put soft drinks and safe rides into the party mix.

"We try to promote responsibility in having somebody in your party be a designated driver," Tocin said. "And we are blessed with Uber and Lyft getting here. Hopefully they will be a success for our folks."

Proctors Chief Executive Officer Philip Morris stood behind ice-filled tubs that contained bottles of Brooklyn Brewery's Summer Ale and American Ale. "Welcome to Brooklyn!" he said to a visitor.

Morris said he liked Brooklyn beer on draft, but confessed he had not tried the potions under his personal promotion outside the GE Theatre. He could fully endorse the festival, though.

"The thing I love about everything at Proctors is that it brings people together," Morris said. "It's about creating community, it's one more thing where people come together, they gather, they talk. I just like watching that."

Drinks from Brown's Brewing Co., Harpoon, Saratoga Brewery, Brewery Ommegang, Yuengling and Sam Adams were all on the menu. Many were summer beers, sweetened with lemon, strawberries, grapefruit and other fruits.

Marcia and Thomas Adams of Rotterdam were happy to sample beers, mingle and celebrate the Fourth of July weekend. Both wore shirts decorated with the U.S. stars and stripes.

"I like beer and I like Proctors," said Marcia, 70. "I think it's a jewel in Schenectady and I want to support it. And I just like to have fun."

The couple also was celebrating a new 39-foot-tall flagpole in front of their home on Tollgate Lane. 

"It's a nice way of sampling beers and meeting new people," added Thomas Adams, 72, who could joke about beer and tall flags. "We should be lit up like our flagpole tonight," he said, laughing.

Many appreciated the chance to try craft beers. Some said if they liked the lemon and strawberry fortifications, they would look for the fruit-flavored products in the supermarket.

"Anytime you can go out and try different foods and beer, especially craft beer, it's a good time to come out," said Andy Santillo, 33, of Niskayuna. "But it's too bad they had to move it indoors. Still, it's kind of cool to mingle indoors."

Ryan Rhoads, 25, did his first mingling at Proctors. He just moved to the Capital Region from Buffalo for work at Stratton Air National Guard Base. "I like the display cases and I've heard they have some good shows here," he said.

Julie Bifaro of Clifton Park was on the team of Proctors volunteers that poured the four-ounce drinks. Bifaro's brand for the evening was Vermont's Switchback Ale -- described as "Orangey, grapefruity hops with a toasted malt to balance bitterness."

"A lot of people are saying it's their favorite," Bifaro said. "It's a lot of fun, there are a lot of nice people. They all have a story and they all tell you what they like."

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. 


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