In fall of 2014, Jennifer Earl and her husband took a trip to Dusseldorf, Germany. They didn’t realize how it would transform their lives. While experiencing the Altstadt (old district) of Dusseldorf, they found beautiful buildings and businesses that had been flourishing for hundreds of years. They noticed that these establishments were cornerstones of the community. One place specifically caught their eyes.
It was a brewery named Uerige. This brewery was always busy and full of patrons. It was quaint and old, unlike anything they had previously experienced. It had two beers on tap and a very limited food menu. The two beers were an alt bier and a light bier (lager or pilsner). There was community-style seating indoor and out. The bar was very small and intended for only picking up drinks, not sitting at. The glassware was perfect for the beers that were served. They recycled their spent grain from the brewing process by leaving it on the cobblestone streets for the local farmers. The farmers would pick up the spent grain in their wagons and feed it to their farm animals. The simplicity of it all was refreshing.
The idea behind their brewery was born from this trip. They wanted to recreate their wonderful experience tailored to the history and culture that already exists in Utica, New York. Bagg’s Square East seemed like the perfect home for this new project.
Bagg’s Square Brewing Company is located in the Doyle Hardware building, inside the Bagg’s Square district of Utica NY. The Doyle Hardware Building is a historic factory building located at 330 Main Street. It was the work of Utica architect Frederick H. Gouge. The Doyle Hardware building was constructed in three sections between 1881 and 1901. Built originally as a clothing factory, in 1934 it became a factory for the manufacture of spark plugs, in 1947 it became home to Utica Distributing Company, and then later Doyle Hardware. Besides being home to BSBC, the Doyle Hardware building also houses a few other commercial spaces as well as loft-style apartments.
Utica has a long history with brewing. Since 1801, Utica has seen 44 different breweries. Of these 44 breweries, two have lasted over 100 years. Oneida Brewing Company operated from 1932 to 1942. F.X. Matt Brewing was incorporated in 1888 and still exists today. New York’s canal system and hop production are what allowed breweries to flourish early on. During the mid-1800s Central New York was the hop capital of America, in 1855 New York State was producing 3 million pounds yearly of hops.