July 31, 2012
Dryden brewery taps local ingredients
DRYDEN — The perfect beer starts with local ingredients and a little imagination, says Dryden brewer Randy Lacey.
Standing in the brewery he designed himself, Lacey, a 57-year-old engineer from Cornell University, talks about creating an all-local beer — made with hop plants, berries and other crops cultivated on his Route 13 farm or other nearby farms.
“Everyone is always on the search for the best local beer,” Lacey said. “My big thing is I want to take as many New York ingredients as I can and put them in my beer.”
Lacey’s vision for Hopshire Farm and Brewery is still a work in progress, but he has big ideas.
As he walks through the brewery, located on a 37-acre property he bought last year, Lacey talks about how he got his start in brewing eight years ago.
“I love home brewing and I love to plant,” Lacey said from his brewery at 1771 Route 13 on Thursday. “It’s kind of a natural fit.”
Lacey is the third local brewer to start his own small brewery in the last two years. The Cortland Beer Co. on Court Street opened in December 2010 and Bacchus Brewing Co. opened on Ellis Drive this past March.
Lacey’s brewery is slightly different from the others as he plans to grow many of the ingredients he needs for his beer on his farm and buy other ingredients from local farmers.
Lacey said he will plant about 5 acres of hop plants, which are used in beer production to add bitter flavor and act as a preservative. The ingredient balances the sweetness of the malt added in the brewing process.
Lacey is a longtime home brewer, engineer in Cornell’s Office of Planning, Design and Construction, and now a businessman.
He is working with his wife, Diane Gerhart, to get the brewery on Dryden Road open sometime this fall.
Lacey said he and other local brewers will take advantage of new state legislation signed into law last week that creates a new farm brewery license, which will allow farm breweries to open restaurants, conduct tasting and sell other related products.
To qualify, 20 percent of hops and 20 percent of all other ingredients used must be locally grown by 2018. That figure rises to 90 percent locally grown by 2024.
Lacey said the state is trying to get behind the craft beer industry, seeing it as one of the few bright spots during overall bleak economic times.
There are 90 craft breweries in New York, with another 20 expected to open soon, according to the state.
“Even as the economy has struggled recently, there has been a lot of growth with the small breweries,” Lacey said.
The Dryden resident says he is not competing with other small brewers. Instead, he imagines working with them to develop a craft beer following that could mirror the success of the wine trails on the Finger Lakes.
Lacey said he is already combing through his recipes to pick his lineup for the fall. He has some ideas about using berries or local maple syrup for his beer, and other designs for some darker and lighter seasonal beers.
“But ultimately,” Lacey said, “it’s the customers who will get to decide.”
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