Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Night Suds - Utica Club Pilsner Lager

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at the granddaddy of the Saranac beers - Utica Club Pilsner Lager.

A number of months ago I was talking to a fellow attorney about the Saranac family of beers and he mentioned to me that the first beer he ever had was the Utica Club. He told me that as kids, he and his friends used to sneak Utica Club out of his father's fridge in the garage. Since then, I have heard similar stories from other people of that approximate age (late 40s-early 50's) who tell me that their fathers had the small "fat can" Utica Club and that they used to try to score a few when their fathers were not looking. It sort of makes me think of Eric and Hyde from "that 70's show" trying to scarf some of Red Forman's beer...

With the beer occupying a prominent spot in Americana, I knew that I had to try it, but I could not seem to find it in any Long Island or New York City beer store. Then last week business took me to Utica, New York for a court appearance and I knew that this would be my chance to try some Utica Club. I brought along a suitcase for my trip back to New York (Jet Blue - one free bag!) along with some towels and Ziploc bags. After completing my court appearance, I stopped by Saranac and went home with a sixer of Utica Club, as well as a four pack of the new Saranac Pale Ale pub cans and some of the new organic juices for my kids.

Before moving on to give my take on the Utica Club, I feel compelled to give my thanks and praise for the good folks at Saranac. When I stopped in on Wednesday afternoon, I was given a tour of the brewery and the new canning line by none other than Brewing Supervisor Richard Michaels and Marketing Director Meghan Fraser. It was like something out of Laverne & Shirley, watching the bottles run down the line and into the boxes. However, the moving parts and packing was a lot more sophisticated than what was on the TV show as the brewery was running two different lines with two different size bottles at the same time. I also got a chance to talk brewing with their brewmaster Jim Kuhr who informed me that later this spring they will be introducing a Lake Placid Honey Rye beer. Sounds delicious!

If you find yourself in the Utica area (its about 45 minutes east of Syracuse) or are travelling I-90 between Albany and Buffalo this summer, I would highly recommend stopping in for a Brewery Tour. I have now done the tour twice and have found it quite entertaining and informative. (For more on the tour click here

So what did the Utica Club taste like? If I tell you that the Heineken man liked it, you should be able to figure it out for yourself. Utica Club is a lager and pours, looks and smells it. The beer is like a cross between Stella Artois and MGD, with a good amount of carbonation and a little bit of creaminess (there was more creaminess when I had it on tap at the Saranac tavern, but it does not come through the same in the bottle).

I would recommend this beer to anyone who likes a cold one on a hot day and is not looking for something with too much bite.

Utica Club is certified kosher by the Va'ad of Detroit, as is every other beverage manufactured for Matt Brewing at the Utica plant. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Utica Club, please follow this link Keep in mind that the formula has reportedly changed over the last few years, so some of the older reviews at BA may be obsolete.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

Finally, if you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

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