One Man’s Plan For the Van Dyck

Here’s another freelance piece from a local blogger. It should be noted that he has no business training or experience, and this plan was hatched recently over beers at the Van Dyck. It does make for an interesting read, though, and is not without its merits. Besides, he owed us, since we fixed his car over the internet.

Okay, so this is my plan. Here goes. I enjoy a good microbrewery. I do. Small-batch craft beer is a beautiful thing, and by and large, it is a generally wonderful experience to walk into a place like the Albany Pump Station or Davidson Brothers Brewing and partake in a good brew. However, a place like the Van Dyck, while rife with potential, can often be the weak link when it comes to microbrewed beers. It’s a great site, in a historic building, with on-site brewing facilities. They’ve made some good beers (a doppelbock that they had last summer comes to mind), some decent beers (the “Coal Porter”), and some terrible beers (their last batch of Brown Ale was…ugh). And they haven’t really been able to establish a toe-hold as a microbrewery. So, I thought of a business model that I think could theoretically work: for lack of a better term, I’m calling it “franchise microbreweries.” I know what you’re thinking: franchise microbreweries? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of on-site brewed beers? Well, not really. Here’s how. For the purposes of this quasi-intellectual exercise, I’ll choose the Van Dyck site – located in a downtown urban area that is going through a revitalization process. And I’m going to choose a somewhat established brewer – for the purposes of this, I’m going to go with the Brooklyn Brewery, because it has a name that is dually recognizable. Brooklyn is known for its quality beers among beer aficionados, as well as being named after a recognizable, hip area of New York City. In addition, Brooklyn Brewing has a presence throughout the state, as it is primarily brewed in Utica. Here’s the idea: the Van Dyck would become “The Brooklyn Brewery And Restaurant At Schenectady” or “At The Stockade” or what have you. This brewery/restaurant would feature an 10-tap setup. 3 of the taps would remain static: they would be kegs brewed off-site but fresh-delivered from the brewery in Utica to Schenectady. These would optimally be the three best-sellers from the brewery: in this case, it could potentially be Brooklyn Lager, Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55, and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. There are probably better three to pick. I’m just going off the cuff here. 2 of the taps would be rotated from the brewery’s other craft brews – in addition to the 3 beers I mentioned, Brooklyn, under the supervision of Bojangles’ man-crush Garrett Oliver, offers – in bottles – a Brooklyner Weisse, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Brooklyn Pilsner, Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, Oktoberfest, Monster (a barley wine), and Post Road Pumpkin Ale. These would be constantly available in bottle form, in addition to being available in rotating kegs. Oliver also offers two limited batch, draft only beers – a strong pale ale called “Blast” and a hellesbock called “Blond Bock.” These could also be featured here. The remaining taps would be supervised by an on-site brewmaster. This brewmaster would be hired by Brooklyn Brewing Company, and would brew special site-specific beers under the Brooklyn name. For the purposes of this quasi-intellectual exercise, these would be called “Brooklyn Brewing Presents: Electric City” series beers. The Electric City series – thanks, Hoff, for the name – would be site-specific beers made in small batches exclusively for the Schenectady site. This could literally be anything. Finally, a small selection of “other” beers would be available in bottles (2 or 3 mass produced beers that should never be offered at a rate cheaper than the craft brews) and beverages would be available, as well as a menu of pub food. This would be the best of all worlds: – quality craft brews from an established brewery – fresh, microbrewed beer with quality assurance – an established brewery expands its name recognition – a city can use the quality name for a draw and – free advertisements for a place like this in every reputable beer distributorship in the city. So, yeah. That’s what I got.

Editor’s Note: Obviously, this is mostly wishful thinking. Brooklyn Brewery wouldn’t necessarily have all that much to gain from it, and Schenectady (and specifically a financially strapped jazz club located slightly off the main commercial strip) probably wouldn’t be anybody’s first choice. It would be nice to see more successful breweries pursue some sort of similar arrangement though. We’ve been saying for years that Middle Ages could make a killing if they took over the space that formerly housed the Empire, or some other spot in downtown Syracuse and opened a brewpub. If you’ve ever seen the crowds that line up in the tasting room at that brewery, you’ll surely agree. Craft beer sales were up almost 12% in 2006, and nearly 30% over the last three years. Annual sales of craft beer now account for $4.2 billion of the $87 billion beer industry, and are growing at a much faster rate. Brooklyn Brewery is among the top 40 in sales in the United States. Does it make sense for an established brewery to get involved in this sort of thing on a larger scale, or in a new location? Is this type of thing already happening without our knowledge? We clearly need to hit the road for some real world research. Maybe we should even read this book.

Brookyn Brewery’s MySpace Page
Van Dyck official website

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~ by bojangles on February 24, 2007.

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