Great Sacandaga Brewing Co. marks opening
BROADALBIN — Since opening its doors on Labor Day weekend, Great Sacandaga Brewing Co. has had to maintain a brisk production pace to keep up with demand and is already looking to expand brewing operations.
“I think we’re going to have to,” said owner Erik Stevens.
The brewery located at 3647 Route 30 just north of the Vail Mills traffic circle opened by Stevens and his wife, Jerrianne, and a friend who prefers to remain a silent partner has officially been just two years in the making, but its origins actually date back to the early 90s when Stevens began brewing his own beer while in military service.
“Moving around from place to place in the army, I would take all of my equipment with me and just brew my own for family and friends,” said Stevens. “This has always been my dream to take my home brewing skills and just go commercial with it.”
After retiring from the military, the village native continued to hone his home brewing skills and while enjoying his own craft beverages with a friend around a campfire the pair decided to open their own local brewery.
“These breweries were popping up all over the place, so it was only a matter of time before somebody opened up one in this area,” said Stevens. “It morphed into what we’ve got here.”
“We intended to start out much smaller than this, but once we decided on the name, the Great Sacandaga Brewing Co. and we trademarked that, we couldn’t start out too small, it had to fit the name,” he continued. “It tied in well with the area, I’ve always loved the history, the landmarks, we name all of our beer after local landmarks.”
In the month that the business has been open, Stevens said it has been a challenge to keep up with customer demand with the brewery’s current five fermenter system that turns out kegs of standard recipe and seasonal or limited run beers that are put on tap and sold as drafts or canned Crowlers to enjoy in or at home.
Great Sacandaga Brewing’s pale ales, stouts, lagers, IPAs and more are made with at least 90 percent state sourced ingredients at the state licensed “farm brewery.”
The official grand opening attended by local leaders and business officials with the Fulton County for Center for Regional Growth’s quarterly business tour certainly did not reverse that course as another new wave of customers made their way inside following a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
CRG President and CEO Ronald Peters thanked Stevens for investing in Fulton County while presenting a $25,000 check through the Microenterprise Grant program to support the small start-up business.
“This is the perfect project,” said Peters, who along with other county officials has been pushing for the development of local breweries and distilleries to create a craft beverage trail to promote tourism.
Stevens indicated that he could see the beverage trail coming to fruition in the near future and noted that Great Sacandaga Brewing Co. has already begun establishing relationships with other area breweries by offering guest taps featuring craft beverages from Stump City Brewing in Gloversville, Rogers Orchard in Johnstown and Indian Ladder Farms Cidery and Brewery in Altamont.
“As fast as we’re going through beer, we started reaching out to other farm breweries to put on guest taps, so we’ve already established that business relationship with other breweries,” said Stevens. “It showcases other breweries that people might not get a chance to go visit themselves.”
Although the village-based brewery opened later this year than originally planned due to state restrictions related to the coronavirus, Stevens said the delay likely served as an advantage by helping to soften the already busy start the business has experienced.
“If we did open at the beginning of the summer like we wanted to, we would have been overwhelmed, not that we aren’t right now,” said Stevens. “I really didn’t think that we would have been as well received right from the start, but at least going into the fall and the winter months we have a bit more reaction time, so we’ll be better prepared next summer.”
Already employing around a dozen part-time staff members during the Thursday through Sunday afternoon and early evening business hours, Stevens said he plans to hire a brewer in the near future and will add at least one more fermenter to increase production capacity.
“It’s turning into a bigger business than what we had anticipated,” said Stevens.
Stevens also plans to make improvements to Great Sacandaga Brewing’s outdoor space to convert a pavilion stile tent on a concrete slab into a permanent structure and develop a lawn area where picnic tables and Adirondack style chairs surround fire pits near a recently built stage to serve up live music.
“We want to develop that as we go,” said Stevens.
He even has plans for the continued development of the already polished interior of the brewery that formerly served as a hair salon and was in admittedly “rough shape” when Stevens and his business partner began renovating the space themselves over a year and a half ago.
Now the walls of the taproom are adorned with salvaged barn beams original to the building for a rustic feel only deepened by the custom bar built from scratch by Stevens and his business partner in the space decorated by Stevens’ wife with a mountainside cabin feel and serviced by a large stone fireplace.
“We did all of the work,” said Stevens.
“And I don’t know if it will ever be done,” he added taking in the quickly growing brewery and taproom.
For more information about Great Sacandaga Brewing Co. including the menu and business hours, visit greatsacandagabrewing.com.