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Craft Producers Ready To "Drink Albany" This Weekend

Lucas Willard

Take a walk through Albany’s warehouse district and you’ll notice some new businesses in the old brick structures. The strip has become a hotbed for craft beverage producers.

Those producers banded together last year to form the Capital Craft Beverage Association. Now expanded into three counties and a dozen producers, the industry is bubbling up quickly, says spokesman Joe Bonilla.

“You have Albany Distilling, you have Nine Pin Cider, you have CH Evans Brewing and Druthers Brewing right here along the Broadway corridor, but also in the surrounding counties as well that you find that people want to do this. It’s really part of our innovation economy for the area,” said Bonilla.

The Association has created and continues to develop a Capital Craft Beverage Trail, connecting locals and visitors to the craft beers, spirits, and cider made at home.

Supporting the effort is the Drink Albany event this weekend in Quackenbush Square in downtown Albany.

Twelve producers will be represented and a ticket will net you a glass and one libation of your choice. Producers from Albany, Schenectady, and Rensselaer Counties will be slinging their signature drinks. 

After a collaborative meeting Wednesday afternoon, Albany Distilling’s Rick Sicari said the craft beverage community is close knit. His company, founded in 2011, produces whiskeys, rum, and a coffee-flavored vodka in conjunction with Saratoga County’s Deathwish Coffee.

“Whether it’s the brewing world, cider world, spirits world, we look at each other and we say, ‘What makes your day easier? Because I want to be able to do that. What struggles do you have? Do you have a way that we can improve our process to make us all succeed.’ And there’s always a freeflow of information,” said Sicari.

Sicari said while there are 12 producers in the Association, as well as some associate members, there is room for more.

“There’s always a new craft beverage producer popping up every day and we want to help them get their feet on the ground because we know how challenging it was when we started,” said Sicari.

Nine Pin Cider’s Sonya Del Peral said supporting the craft producers and their employees also supports local agriculture.

Her company, which opened its Albany tasting room to the public two and a half years ago, sources its fruit from New York farms.

“We incorporated that mission into the mission of the Capital Region Beverage Trail because we’re able to support agriculture in the surrounding counties,” said Del Peral.

The Association’s fundraising and Drink Albany festival will help develop a map of the trail and promotional materials.

The event runs Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit:



Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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