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Right in the heart of downtown Schenectady setback from Union Street’s main drag, CENTRE STREET PUBLIC HOUSE & GARDEN is conveniently located just down the block from Mad Jack Brewing. A friendly cement-floored roadhouse with an enormous side beer garden, Centre Street features an olden 20-seat wood bar serving right side booths and tables with gastropub fare and wood-fired pizza.

My wife, son and I grab a booth below the large glass-encased beer can collection to sample eight previously untried brews emanating from the 26 taps. Several bar-bound TV’s (and a large screen TV near the pizza oven) concentrate on college football as we eat dinner during early December ’19 trip.

Image result for centre street public house and beer garden schenectady ny

Tonight’s elixirs included a fabulous array of New York suds (reviewed fully in Beer Index) including Wolf Hollow Amber Ale, Woodstock Zen of Anxiety Saison, Sloop Pixie Dust IPA, Grimm Cyber Café IPA, Thin Man War Sombrero IPA, Barrier/ Grimm Manual Wind IPA, Unified Beerworks Even More Juicy Things Imperial IPA, and Mikkeller NYC It Was Professor Plum (a sour IPA).



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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.



Great Flats Brewing (@greatflats) / Twitter


Just minutes from Rivers Casino & Resort in the light industrial Adirondack-bound city of Schenectady, GREAT FLATS BREWING opened March 2017. The brainchild of former homebrewer, Tom Owens, this nifty garage-doored, cement-floored pub serves a wide range of ambitious stylistic pleasantries and varied one-offs.

Six metal tables and one community table lead to the central 12-tap serving station. Brew tanks are stored to the right and the high aluminum ceiling has exposed pipes.

An English and Belgian ale fan, Owens was partially inspired by early ’90s craft brewery’s such as Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head.

During my one-hour sojourn in August ’18, tasted nine fine draught samples.

Demure German pilsner malts gave Pining For Pils its musky herbal graining while grassy hop astringency ascended beside lickety-split lemon snips.

Dry-hopped Summernight American Pale Lager developed a sour lemon wedge for pureed tangerine and tart orange illusions.

Dry wood tones saddled dewy pilsner malts for Extra Pale Crescent Ale, a mossy moderation with unripe fig notions.

Mellow pink-hued Raspberry IPA retained easygoing lactose-soured raspberry tartness that drifted into mild Cascade-hopped pink grapefruit bittering as well as slightly vinous green grapes esters and oaken cherry piquancy.

Fruitful West Coast-styled delight, Bad Manners IPA, merged tangy grapefruit, pineapple, orange, peach and mango juicing with sharp piney hop bittering and sugary pale malts.

Piney orange-peeled yellow grapefruit bittering endured for Old Dorp Double IPA, an herbal-spiced citrus-laced medium body with latent rustic hop astringency.

Peanut-shelled Brown Chicken Brown Ale brought dry walnut and sweet hazelnut together over murky mocha malts.

Electric City Roasters Coffee and brown-sugared molasses oats inundated Super Brunch Stout, an easygoing dark ale with milky espresso tones and, quite uniquely, wispy raw-sugared peach and tangerine adjuncts.

The most askew hybrid, complex Cabernet Sauvignon-barreled Smoked Belgian Amber Ale revealed peat-smoked pale malting for its phenol wine-perfumed red grape, date and fig tartness – losing much of the kiln-smoked Rauchbier likeness by the musty dried fruited finish.



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Inside Van Dyck Lounge at an infamously historic haunted brothel inconspicuously hidden among a residential Schenectady neighborhood, MAD JACK BREWING COMPANY re-established a former local brewery in 2011.

With the appearance of a low-ceiling upscale English pub, Mad Jack’s rounded beer selection benefits from Van Dyck’s great pizza, fine entrees and signature cocktails. A black canopy welcomes patrons to a separate right side dining area fronting the 20-seat bar area featuring walnut furnishings, booze-lined mirrors, a few tables and 2 TV’s.

A prominent carpeted dining area with tiled hearth opposes the left bar while a brick and windowed brew room adorns the rear nearing the back deck.

Keeping with its antiquated brothel setting, curtained front windows and dim lighting complete the score during my March 2017 mid-afternoon sojourn.

First up, light German-styled Pinhead Pilsner brought dank pilsner malting and mild grassy hop astringency to laidback lemony licks.

Nonchalant Washed Out Belgian White plied tingly sugar spicing to sweet orange-peeled banana and clove expectancy as well as distant lemony grapefruit bittering.

Musty earthen peat and dewy pale malts anchored dry-bodied moderation, Irish Red, a crisply barley-roasted delight.

Locally popular flagship, Fightin’ Irwin IPA, put apple, pear and peach fruiting on par with stylish grapefruit-peeled orange tang and spruce-pined hops above mild crystal malting.

Raisin, plum and black cherry pureeing pervaded Dunkel-Weizenbock, a sweet caramel malted medium body (with well-hidden 8.5% ABV).

“Intense coffee and chocolate” flavoring secures smoothly Vienna-malted Mount Pleasant Porter, a milky mocha delight with plenty of caramel sweetness.

Before heading to Saratoga, dark-roasted barley crisping deepened Stockade Stout’s mild coffee tones and chalky cocoa dryness.

On early December ’19 nighttime revisit, quaffed four fabulous seasonal brews.

Brown-sugared pumpkin pie sweetness glazed Upstate Harvest Pumpkin Spice Ale, a delightful Nugget-hopped autumnal offering with glistening cinnamon-spiced nutmeg, allspice and ginger seasoning.

Wonderful winter warmer, Uncle Jack’s Christmas Ale, brought Scotch-licked cinnamon stick sweetness to ginger, nutmeg, fern and pine nut illusions while retaining bruised orange and cherry undertones.

Milk-sugared cold brewed coffee elevated Rooster’s Wake The Clock Up Coffee Cream Stout to blissful digestif serenity, leaving vanilla, cocoa and caramel latte illusions to sweeten the persistent java exuberance of this hearty nightcap.

Fudgy nitrogenated Holy Cannoli Coffee Stout maintained its creamy milk-sugared coffee affluence and pastry-like ricotta creaminess above honeyed Graham Cracker malts for a nifty dessert treat.

My son, Christopher (living in Schenectady workin’ for Beechnut), brought back two worthy Euro-styled dark beers during July ’20.

Befuddlingly chameleonic helles bock, To Helles And Bock Again (a collab with nearby Helderberg Mountain Brewing), combined English IPA/ Scotch Ale facets as dewy compost-wafted moisture enveloped light cocoa, almond extract, chestnut, hazelnut and Scotch whiskey illusions corrupted by lemony Hallertau hops above caramel-spiced malts.

For full-bodied Northern English-styled Brown Ale, maple-sugared dark chocolate syruping draped unsweetened cocoa powdering to contrast modest walnut-charred hop bittering while dark floral spicing stayed distant.

Prior to Halloween ’20, consumed busy Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Spice, a briskly pumpkin pie-spiced autumnal dessert embedding brown-sugared cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice seasoning into honey-glazed hazelnut sweetness (and crisp brown leafed hop foliage), finishing like a spicy gingerbread cookie.

During October ’20 stopover, grabbed a table near the beautiful tile-chimneyed hearth with wife and son, Chris, at dinnertime to consume four previously untried brews.

Frisky Munich-styled lager, leafy autumnal moderation, Oktoberfest!, contrasted sweet-spiced dewy malts against herbal Tettnang hop restraint with rewarding results.

Rye-floured barley-malting nudged chestnut-acorn sweetness and earthen gourd for Upstate Harvest NY Pale Ale, leaving herbal lemon rot in the recess.

Tangy Mohawk Sunset Juicy New England IPA let mild milk-soured creaming seep into grapefruit-juiced orange, pineapple and peach effervescence while honey-spiced barleymalts, raw oats cereal graining and limey Cashmere hop herbage retained balance.

Marvelous lactose-infused Halloween candied dark ale, Big Stoopid Stout (a collaboration with Wolf Hollow) spread creamy peanut-buttered chocolate sweetness across candy-corned marshmallow sugaring as cumin-spiced vanilla beaning enriched the autumnal dessert confection alongside tertiary milk-sugared coffee, cocoa and black cherry puree illusions above a persistent cedar-burnt hop char.