Russell Scimeca quite literally went back to his roots when he decided to start a brewery. The Leatherstocking Home Brewers club he joined more than a decade ago used to meet in the building that is now the home to the Roots Public Social Club.
Russell spent a good chunk of his 20s seasoning his palate with the help of publications like Yankee Brew News. Back in the day, he would rip out portions of the paper that contained breweries he wanted to visit throughout the Northeast.
After meeting co-founder Jason Parrish through a friend of his wife’s, business plans started brewing. Eventually Roots Brewing Co. transformed into the Roots Public Social Club, a pub serving over 80 craft beers. Their roots in brewing remain, however, in the form of small-batch, limited-release house beers occasionally on tap.
Russell: “Roots for us is about grass roots. It’s about coming up out of the earth, coming up out of a place of not being in the industry, coming up and building this essentially from nothing. We’re all self-funded. We had to use every penny very wisely and put together the space that we knew we would want to come and hang out in with our family and friends, bringing in artists to come and decorate our walls, bringing in different colors. This bar, for example, was hewn from my father-in-law’s uncle’s property. We went out, reclaimed it, brought it to another sawmill, had it planned, and so we built this by hand. It took quite a while. I’ve got limited business experience. My partner’s got a bit of brewing experience. He’s a well-seasoned scientist.”
Jason: “I was in drug design. I wanted to get into drug delivery systems. We’re just going to narrow down the drug to alcohol, and we’re going to design the systems for it. Brewing is a lot like cooking. It’s like cooking soup, in a way. It’s a blend of flavors and being able to see what you want. A lot of people think science is very rigid and following a recipe, but it’s really more of an art. I think the most successful scientists are very creative,. I like to be creative, and express myself creatively. Brewing is perfect for that.” “We like to keep maybe three solid regular beers and then rotate the rest as needed. Inconceivable to straight Belgium triple. Like I said, Abbey style, no spices, all pale and Pils malts. We do add Belgium candy syrup to it. Another one of our cores is the bonafide black. That was a recipe … I think Russ spontaneously came up with it. Not spontaneously, you know, a little bit of research and stuff. We tweaked it a little bit, but it’s one of the customer favorites. So far the beer’s been really well received.”
Russell: “There’s two colleges. There’s a lot of professionals that want beer and want to come here to drink beer. We believe in supporting local main streets. Not interested in supporting sprawl. We really want to bring people together where they shop and buy historically storefront. Upstate New York’s downtowns are shriveling. We want to be a part of revitalizing that.”