SCHENECTADY, NEW YORK
The centerpiece of downtown Schenectady’s refurbished and redesigned Mill Artisan District, FROG ALLEY BREWING COMPANY is a behemoth multifaceted pub and eatery established in 2018 and still under construction during my early Saturday afternoon jaunt, March ’19.
Though we quaff suds in a quaint white-walled backspace taproom, by the end of summer Frog Alley will be operating at full capacity. Expected to distribute 14,000 barrels of beer per year, its massive square footage will allow for a 40-draught U-shaped central bar with an overhead door extending its perimeter to a large outside deck when weather’s warm. There will be a viewable brew pit below the gargantuan bar-restaurant area where a beautiful warehoused keg room, canning line, pilot batch room and state-of-the-art quality lab exist.
Reclaimed wood furnishings and several large community tables will decorate the urethane-floored main bar. Plus, five plastic kiosks and a back classroom promote brewing and distilling for interested Schenectady Community College students.
Two veteran brewmasters were tapped to head Frog Alley’s zymurgy chores. Rich Michaels, a historic figure originally Founders Brewing’s first employee, worked at a Disney World brewery and Saranac before hooking up with Drew Schmidt (formerly of NYC’s defunct Zip City, Baltimore’s Oxford Brewing, and most recently, Van Dyck Lounge’s Mad Jack).
After Mr. Michaels takes me on a tour of the soon-completed facility, I get to sample eight prized jewels as the place fills up with local brethren.
For openers, stylishly robust Kikkey German Pilsner let lemondrop hops and oaty pilsner malts pick up mild herbal restraint at its lemon-candied finish.
Another Bavarian brew, tidy pre-Prohibition-styled 1903 Vienna Lager took raw-honeyed fig and apricot desiccation to leafy hop astringency, dewy fungi musk and sweet Vienna malting.
Honeyed caramel spicing and roasted chocolate malts lingered for Mc Carthy’s Red Tag Ale, leaving tingly orange-red fruit spicing on the tongue.
Engagingly sweet-tart cherry lusciousness gained grenadine syruping, floral niceties and sour lemon piquancy for cheerily fruitful Cherry Hweat, a sugary springtime sensation.
Straightforward Refresh IPA let lemony grapefruit-orange tanginess glide above piney hop earthiness, fennel herbage and juniper bittering.
Cedar-like Chinook hop dryness crowded FINA West Coast IPA alongside orange-peeled tangerine tang and earthen compost soiling, resulting in a bitter citrus-pined finish.
Juicy grapefruit tang brightened Mohop #5 – Mosaic New England IPA, leaving dry wood tones upon sweet peach-mango-orange subsidy.
Named after the ancient local Frog Alley baseball team captain, Captain Ellis Porter aligned black-malted dark chocolate bittering with Blackstrap molasses and day-old coffee tones.
Upon December ’19 noon time revisit, sat at wide L-shaped front bar (with three TV’s, beer menu and gas-piped tap system) to consume four new brews.
Sessionable IPA, Calico Frog, a collaboration with local Margareteville’s Faith American Brewing, lavished mild grapefruit-peeled lemon musk with dry-wooded hops and black peppered herbs.
Dewy F in A West Coast IPA retained the woody citric appeal and crystal malt sugaring of a Northwest US version to contrast the mild herbal hop musk and dry earthen graining of an English-styled IPA.
Sparkling champagne fizz dotted Brut Frog IPA, a bold dry body with a slight rye twist, hard cider kick and candied lemon licks.
Fudgy dark chocolate faded over light hop charred bittering and sour nuttiness for Charley Brown, a maple molasses-dripped brown ale.