From the pioneers of the Leatherstocking era to the outdoor enthusiasts of the modern Adirondacks, upstate New York has a great tradition of adventure.
The craft beverage renaissance happening in Central New York celebrates its own traditions, namely its roots in hop farming.
Woodland Farm Brewery just outside of Utica taps into all of the above, embracing experimentation with its primarily homegrown beers.
Co-founders AJ Spado, Keith Redhead and Nick Natishak wanted to combine their passion for brewing with an appreciation of Central New York’s history as turn-of-the-19th-century hop king. They established Woodland and captured the essence of Brew Central, America’s Craft Brew Destination.
“We wanted to be involved in the brewing process as much as possible,” Spado explains. “Just like a winery grows its own grapes, we think it’s important to produce our own ingredients.”
The hop yard is a work in progress, but the young brewery already employs local maple syrup, honey and even dandelions in its brews, some which are aged in barrels made by a nearby cooper.
“We’re not just pumping out the same beers,” Spado says. There are up to 12 on tap in Woodland’s tasting room. “We’re always trying new styles and using as many New York ingredients as possible.”
It’s paying off, as you’ll often find the sun-soaked patio at Woodland’s tasting room full of craft community members of all ages from near and far. Of course, Woodland invites Utica-area food trucks to serve the patrons in this laid-back atmosphere.
As part of the just-launched Heart of New York Craft Beverage Trail, Woodland plans to eventually offer tours of its hop yard and brewery so they can walk patrons through the entire handcrafted process the owners love so much.
You can visit the traveler and dog friendly tasting room from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays.