By Rebecca Platel, Program Manager
We’re often asked why we started a brewery and developed a project to support the region’s craft beverage industry. While brewing beer for our local market is an exciting and valuable outcome of the project, it’s not entirely about the beer. We see our work as an exercise in local food systems and agricultural economic development. First, locally-minded craft beverage producers are creating a new opportunity for New York State farmers by using New York State small grains and hops. Second, they are creating new jobs and new places for residents and visitors to gather and spend money in the local economy. Third, the new market for small grains is spurring the development of grain processing infrastructure across the state, and there is need for more. Last, the craft beverage industry’s shift toward local grain sourcing is bolstering an existing effort to rebuild a regional grain sector in the northeast.
This new face of the craft beverage industry exemplifies what we hope to foster through the Sustainable Communities Initiative: the development of community-scale strategies to enhance the health of local economic, social and ecological systems while contributing to global climate change mitigation and resiliency goals. Our current programs and special projects explore local and regional food systems, small business development and community-scale sustainability. In addition to the Helderberg Brewery project, we will launch a Hill & Mountain Farming project and a Sustainable Communities Partnership program in 2016.
On the topic of the Helderberg Brewery Project, the Carey Institute received grants from USDA and ESD to create Source NY, an online platform to connect farmers with craft beer and spirit producers across the state. The project coincides with Governor Cuomo’s announcement in early December that more than 100 farm breweries are now in operation in New York State. As that number continues to grow, the demand for locally grown ingredients will increase as well. Source NY will facilitate industry-wide communication and marketing by providing users with: a visual directory of growers, beverage producers and service providers; an online marketplace to sell and procure products; and a supply chain mapping tool to manage and evaluate transactions.
Helderberg Brewery Incubator will host a brewery incubator workshop for craft beverage producers in March 2016. The workshop will cover wild and cultured yeast management. This will be the second incubator workshop; the first one was held in November. Fifteen participants were in attendance, representing six startup operations across New York State for the day-long program a quality control in small brewery settings. Instructors included Jamie Caligure from Rare Form Brewing Co. in Troy, Matthew Falco from Brown’s Brewing Co. in Hoosick, and Aaron MacLeod, Director of Hartwick College Center for Craft Food and Beverage.