MARCY, NY — It started with three school teachers who discovered a common bond in their homebrewing hobby while talking during their lunch breaks.

Now they are partners in Woodland Hop Farm & Fermentation, a new farm brewery thatopens Friday (Jan. 8) at 6002 Trenton Road in Marcy. That’s just off Route 12 north of Utica, close to the campus of the SUNY Institute of Technology.

It is one of more than 200 breweries in New York state, and one of the more than 100 that qualify as farm breweries. But it’s the first farm brewery in Oneida County.

It’s starting with a brew house and a tasting room offering pints and tasting flights. Soon, it will also have its own working hop farm. That will help qualify it for tax breaks and other incentives given by the state to breweries who pledge to use an increasing percentage of New York grown or produced ingredients in their beers.

Woodland is run by A.J. Spado and Nick Natishak, who teach at Rome Free Academy, and Keith Redhead, a former RFA teacher now in the Oriskany school district.

“We all love beer and making it, so we looked into doing this in our spare time,” said Spado, who teaches earth science at RFA.

They’ve installed brewing equipment that can brew 5 barrels at a time, but will “double batch” each brew in 10-barrel fermenters. (A barrel is 31 gallons).

That makes it a small brewery, but bigger than many of the 1- or 2-barrel “nano” breweries that have recently opened.

The board showing the first four beers on tap at Woodland Hop Farm and Fermentation brewery in Marcy, near Utica.

The three brewers will make all styles of beer — from extra hoppy IPAs to malty stouts and everything in between, Spado said. They will specialize in barrel-aged beers and beers served in “real ale” casks or firkins (naturally carbonated with no added gas).

For opening week (it had a ‘soft opening’ last weekend), it will pour four beers: Batch 1, a 5.9 percent alcohol malty Scottish ale; Sagey, a fresh and herbal 5.1 percent saison-style beer; Marcy Stout, dark and smoky at 5.5 percent; and Karl the Goat, a 5.5 percent kolsch-style beer.

In the near future, Woodland hopes to boost production to 8 beers on tap, Spado said. The three partners will keep their teaching jobs, and plan to brew and keg beers about once a week to keep up the supply.

For now, all beers are sold out of the tasting room (pints or growlers), but eventually the brewery made be able to supply off-premises accounts in the Utica area, Spado said.

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