The O-town Scene

March 08, 2012

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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Scene the O-Town Vol. 2, No. 16 102 Chestnut St., P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820 The O-Town Scene is published the second Thursday of each month by The Daily Star Inc. Free copies are distributed throughout Oneonta, Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties. The O-Town Scene online at is updated regularly with blogs, stories, reviews and calendar listings, in addition to hosting content from the print edition. EDITOR IN CHIEF/ DESIgNER Cassandra Miller, (607) 432-1000, ext. 255 ARTS CALENDAR/ COpY EDITOR Adrienne Wise, (607) 432-1000, ext. 206 CONTRIBUTORS Mark Boshnack, John Champlin, Emily Ernsberger, Josh Hammonds, Ashok Malhotra, Robin Nussbaum, Raul O'Toole, Jeffrey Pegram, Heidi Tanner-Brantley and Justin Vernold EDITOR'S NOTE|by Cassandra Miller Serendipity of The Beer Issue Oneonta is a beer town. The taps at most area restaurants include thoughtful, diverse beers from microbreweries, and many don't even have options from macrobreweries, like Budweiser, on tap. Hometown Deli has the craft beer selection of a well-stocked Brooklyn bodega run by hipsters. (It's often my go-to place for picking up something on the way to a potluck dinner.) And then there are the breweries _ Om- megang, Butternuts Beer and Ale, Cooper- stown Brewing Company, Tundra and the soon-to-open Council Rock. For this issue, I spent several arduous hours at Butternuts Beer and Ale brewery in Garratsville, which makes the popular Porkslap pale ale in a can, among others. What I was most surprised and intrigued by Oneonta's beer culture while research- ing for this issue is the popularity of home brewing. I knew next to nothing about the hobby. My brother tried home brewing one winter, but he lost interest before I could even taste any of his beer. It wasn't until talking with Josh Ham- monds, president of the Homebrewers of Otsego County Proper Society, that I learned what an incredible culture there is for home brewing, which truly is an art form. It takes patience, creativity and pas- sion. Homebrewers are artisans constantly honing and learning their craft. Hence, the term "craft beer"; craft as in craftmanship, not Sculpey rabbits. Home brewing is a hobby for those obsessive about beer. TO ADVERTISE, CONTACT Advertising Director Sean Lewis, (607) 432-1000, ext. 235 EDITOR OF THE DAILY STAR Sam Pollak, (607) 432-1000, ext. 208 Member of The Associated Press and CNHI News Service. 2 O-Town Scene March 8, 2012 I asked Hammonds to write a step-by-step guide to making beer for this issue, expect- ing something like 1. Mix hops. 2. Ferment. 3. Drink beer. Instead, Hammonds, a pro- fessor at SUNY Oneonta, wrote a scholarly 1,500-word essay, complete with historical references and scientific facts. This wealth of knowledge is not an anomaly among homebrewers. Hammonds was not the only homebrewer I talked to who referred to himself as a "beer geek." Homebrewers, I imagine, are a bit like gamers. But, instead of Dungeons and Dragons, they have stouts and quadrupels. Researching this issue was both delicious and serendipitous. Last week, while talking about how knowledgeable and passionate Hammonds was, Daily Star copy editor Justin Vernold mentioned that his brother was a home- brewer, too. Not only is his brother, Bill Vernold, a homebrewer, but he also works at Butternuts Beer and Ale and is the presi- dent of the brand new Delhi Homebrewers Club. I went to the group's first meeting this Tuesday, which I talk about in the "Beer Artisans" article on Pages 16 and 17. I've shared my excitement about this issue with all my coworkers at The Daily Star, where I'm also a copy editor, a reporter and the Celebrations and Religion editor. Daily Star clerk Johnna Nesteruk found during her archival research a folder from the mid-'90s labeled "Breweries and Bot- tlers" with about a dozen clippings noting the emergence of craft beer in the area. The mid-'90s is when a few breweries opened here, including Ommegang, then an eight-person business run by a married couple; Cooperstown Brewing Company, opened by a father-son duo; and then an Oneonta brewery. A brewery in the city of Oneonta?! I missed that chance to taste DryTown beer during its year-and-a-half tenure because I was in elementary school, when I was interested in making Sculpey animals, not drinking beer. The area's beer past is fascinating, and it's future is exciting. Daily Star reporter Denise Richardson forwarded me a press release Tuesday saying that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to pass legislation for it to become easier to open a brewery in New York state. Ommegang has grown into a major corporation, complete with a British CEO and more than 13,000 fans on Face- book. Butternuts has bought Cooperstown Brewing Company for one mega-beer part- nership. And new breweries are opening to provide even more diversity. Enjoy The Beer Issue. Cheers! Cassandra Miller is the founding editor of the O-Town Scene, and an avid beer appreciator with a particular fond- ness for IPAs and Belgium quadrupels.

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