Fall is the time to harvest!
I am a big fan of the autumn months, and a big reason is the bountiful harvest that comes around at this time. Growing up on Lake Erie, I remember going out to Patterson Farms to pick apples that would be used in pie, applesauce, and a personal favorite apple slices with peanut butter. The difference between a fresh picked apple at its peak ripeness from right on the farm was a world away from the bland apples I found at my local supermarket shelves. New York is obviously know for its apple orchards, but hop farms have been making a steady comeback over the past five years. This is due in part to the farm brewery bill along with an increase in hop education at such universities at Cornell, SUNY Morrisville, and SCCC. If you are looking for a nice weekend adventure, I would suggest visiting a hop farm, local orchard, or even a brewery. Why not even combine two or even all three into a trip to gain a better understanding of the terms “farm to table” and “grain to glass”. Here are a few ideas for each, but this is only a small sampling of places within a two hour drive of the district.
My first suggestion, and probably the closest of the bunch, is Indian Ladder Farms. This spot will certainly cover all your bases, with a apple orchard, cidery, brewery, hop farm, and a great taproom to enjoy all the finished products. They also carry other New York State products including locally produced spirits. Another great spot to check out is Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, which is one of the providers of apples to our pals at Nine Pin. A few other suggestions at Lindsey’s Orchard near Clifton Park, Terrance Mountain Orchard in Schoharie, and Philip Orchards in Claverack. All have pick your own options and have different varietals becoming available over the next 2 months.
From when planted, hop rhizomes take two growing seasons to produce useful hops. With this in mind, it is easy to understand that great hop growers have a combination of patience and attention to detail. Unlike most crops, hops are trained to grow up bines, or tall posts that are put into the ground. Seeing these plants creep up almost three story poles and bloom over a summer is really something to marvel at. Most of these farms are working farms and do not necessarily advertise tours, but I am sure if you called ahead with interest in visiting I am sure they accomodate. Rockin’ Hops up in Ballston Lake mentions just that on their website. Other options include Alta Vista Farm Hops in Cherry Valley(Northwest Catskills) and two spots in the Finger Lakes region, Ledyard Farms and Pedersen Farms both cater to visitors.
Plan Bee in Poughkeepsie is a nice day trip from Albany, at about 90 minutes with a quick zip down I-87 or the more scenic Taconic. The tap room just opened back at the end of July, and it’s nice to put a face on the place that brews magical concoctions with the resident yeast and microflora. Good Nature’s Farm Brewery & Taproom is a two hour drive out along scenic route 20, and it passes conveniently close to Ommegang in Cooperstown. If both of those trips are too far, you can take a quick trip up to Common Roots in South Glens Falls like I did for last weekend’s Fermentation Festival. Don’t forget to try their 100% coolship fermented beer, Rooted, or their new Octoberfest beer. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy all these breweries and more here at The Ruck. Oh yeah, one other thing I guess I should mention…… Pumpkin Beer.