(and the surrounding cities)
Honestly, I wasn’t huge into beer for most of my teenage years. It often made me super sick and it just wasn’t appetizing for me. Once I started working at a brewery during college though, I found myself more and more intrigued and drawn towards the craft beer ~culture~. I decided to curate a beer tour of what I think are the BEST breweries in our area, along with my friend Emily and Kyle so that we could maximize our consumption. All of these places have rotating beer lists, so it is always a good idea to check out their website to see what they currently have on tap/in bottles.
C.H. Evans Brewing Co., at Albany Pump Station
Our first stop was CH Evans, located inside the old Albany Pump Station, which sits steps away from The Palace Theater along the banks of the Hudson. The atmosphere is very industrial but with hints of the history and heritage of the brewery all along the walls. Definitely a place to hang around and peep all of the decor! Their Skyway Sour w/Concord Grape honestly tasted like the sparkling grape juice our parents used to buy us to drink with the adults on NYE, it’s 100% a summer beer. Their staple Pump Station Pale Ale was crisp and light with a little bit of bitterness from the hops, but overall very tasty. The Munich Lager was darker than both of the previous, but was surprisingly crisp and refreshing with the carmel/nutty notes taking over. One of the things I love about this place is that the food is fantastic and the space is nice and wide so you don’t feel like you’re on top of the other patrons.
Fort Orange Brewing
This was actually our first visit to Fort Orange, which is named after the original name of Albany, given by the Dutch when we were a colony. It’s located inside of a large garage, so it was nice and open with corn hole and games outside. There was an event going on the day we were there though, which made things a bit awkward and it wasn’t the most comfortable atmosphere. I was absolutely blown away by a stout I had of theirs at a beer fest a few months ago, so I was pretty stoked to finally hang out here. Their beer list was very IPA friendly, which didn’t help me much since I’m not personally a fan. Mo-mentum was fruity and hoppy, which was tasty but not my personal cup of tea. H2H was a great classic IPA with lots of hops and bitterness, definitely something to have a snack with. Fort Orange IPA is their flagship IPA, with its mild smell and subtle bitterness. Due to myself not being a fan of IPAs, I’ll likely wait until heavier beers are available so we can go back and hang out more. It was cool that they had little snack bags and drinks for kids as well!
I absolutely adore Druthers! For years I’ve been a fan of their food (aka their mac and cheese) but since I turned 21 in October, I’ve been able to fully appreciate their spot. We visited their Albany location, but they also have a location in Saratoga Springs with different beers and food available. On our visit, I found the beer that I want served at my wedding– Against the Currant. I’d compare it to a berry mojito, with the basil and mint giving it a nice freshness and the currant bringing out the juice and sessionability of it. I’d like a whole keg, please! Their Dark Weizen had a chocolaty taste at first with not much of an aftertaste, but still refreshing and not so bitter after all the IPAs and pale ales we had tried. I’ll always love Druthers because I’ve never had a bad bite of food and their brews are top notch.
Browns Brewing Co.
Disclaimer: I worked at Brown’s for over a year while I was in college. Their food used to be kind of meh but their beer has always been great. They have two locations, one in Troy along the bank of the Hudson and the other in the middle of nowhere in Walloomsac–we visited the Troy location on our trip around town, which has some great artifacts found in the building back in the 90s. Their beer lists are usually pretty expansive with at least one thing for everyone, which is great as someone who’s picky about her beer! Their Aurora was so delicious! It’s one of their limited release 500mL bottles and was extra juicy-perfect for hanging out in their lovely beer garden on a nice day. The Guava Gose was surprising–very herby and not too sweet, but good for a gose (in the words of Kyle). As she’s a fan of IPAs, Emily tried the Carla IPA which she wasn’t overly impressed by, as the hops seemed to take over all other flavors that were present. In recent months, I’ve really got to give it to Brown’s for stepping up their food menu and quality. The past couple times I’ve visited, the food has been better than I’ve ever had from there so I’m really really happy and excited to spend more summer nights hanging out there and watching the sunset over the Green Island bridge.
Rare Form Brewing
Rare Form is another spot in Troy that has some great brews and is a cool spot to hang out. It’s located right in downtown and even has old video games available to play while you sip! I’ve had some tasty drinks here before, so I was a little bit disappointed by what they had on their current selection. Practically Magic was a coconut-lime sour (which I expected to LOVE) and I was a little let down, as it smelled sort of funky. However, Raisin in the Dark was much better, with a graham cracker smell with a strong coffee taste. We’ll probably chalk this visit up as just an off time and we’ll definitely be back.