The day starts as usual when I’m away. With a plate full of fried things.
Craig is picking me up quite early. Today is Albany’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and lots of streets will be blocked off. He whisks me off to his favourite Greek diner for those fried things I just mentioned. I love old-fashioned diners, me. They make me feel like I’m really in the US.
Fellow blogger Alan Mcleod is coming down from Canada and we head to his hotel to see if he’s arrived yet. He hasn’t. But handily there’s a pub on the ground floor of his hotel. Seems a good enough place to wait. And to have the first beer of the day. A coffee Pale Ale from local brewery Crossroads. It isn’t as awful as it sounds. Not sure I’d have a second one, mind.
I’m halfway down my pint when Alan wanders in, looking much the same as last time I saw him. He joins us in a beer and we discuss the plan for today. Which should see us hold a joint book signing. At least that’s the plan. You never know how these things will work out. I’ve learned to take things as they come.
Our first appointment, however, is at Reed’s home brew shop in Saratoga Springs. Saratoga Zymurgist is its name. Not quite sure what we’ll be doing there. It’s all a bit vague.
As we drive North up the Hudson Valley, Craig tells me a little about the history of the area. Just the sort of thing I like.
Once in Saratoga Springs we struggle to find the shop. It helps when we try looking at the correct address. Inside there are a few people hanging around, looking expectant. Reed then explains that he’s expecting me to speak a little about my book. No problem. Always ready to talk about the book. And having had this sort of thing sprung on me before, I’m always sort of prepared.
After my little talk I manage to flog a couple of books. Result! Only 18 more to go. Books to sell, I mean.
Reed tags along with us as we head back South to Clifton Park and Shmaltz.
Shmaltz has a fairly basic tap room at the front of their brewery. It’s fairly basic, but welcoming enough. We find a seat and start setting out our books. Me and Craig/Alan are both supposed to be giving a short presentation. At least that’s the plan. But nothing seems to have been set up. And the person who was supposed to be organising everything is nowhere to be seen.
“They did try to cancel yesterday.” Craig says helpfully. I’m beginning to see why.
We console ourselves with some beer. From a beer engine, which is even better. The bar is fairly full. But no-one seems very interested in us or our books. What can we do? Nothing. May as well just enjoy the beer.
We get to look at the brewery by tagging along on a tour. It doesn’t take too long. They have all the usual shiny things. Plus the usual wooden things. Some firkins, too.
Finally we admit defeat, pack up our books and leave. Looking on the bright side, I’ve had a beer in my hand most of the afternoon. So it hasn’t been a total washout.
On our way back to Albany we stop in Troy for food and more beer. Starting in The Ruck, an appropriately raucous>, big boozer, with a good selection of beer and an all-age-groups sort of crowd. It’s rather fun, in a Saturday night out sort of way.
After a couple of drinks we move on. Around the corner (literally) to Rare Form, a fairly recently opened brewpub. A bigger contrast with The Ruck is hard to imagine. There’s no-one over thirty, other than us. And it’s quiet. Quiet to the point of ennui. It doesn’t look like anyone is having much fun.
“Can I have a Porter. NOT the nitro version.” I ask the barman.
“A Porter it is.” He replies.
“Yes, NOT the nitro version.”
He pours me the nitro version. I can’t be arsed to complain.
“Look at the couples,” Alan remarks, “it’s the women in charge in all of them.”
Not sure how he spots that across the room. He’s not very impressed with the uncleaned wooden ceiling, either. With fans merrily spreading whatever muck is lurking there throughout the room. And the Brown Ale he’s ordered is undrinkable. Not his day.
We don’t linger long.
But that isn’t it for the evening. Back in Albany we drop by the Allen Street Pub for a quick one. It has three handpulls, so I took little persuading. As we cradle our pints the owner arrives. Looking like he’s had a long day at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. But he’s a happy friendly drunk, telling us every five minutes how much he likes us. It’s a good place, both physically and mentally, at which to end the day.
More bar and brewery hopping planned tomorrow.
112 Excelsior Ave,
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
6 Fairchild Square,
Clifton Park, NY 12065.
104 3rd St,
Troy, NY 12180.
Tel: +1 518-273-1872
Rare Form Brewing Company
90 Congress St,
Troy, NY 12180.
Tel: +1 518-326-4303
Allen Street Pub
332 S Allen St,
Albany, NY 12208.
Tel: +1 518-526-2455
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