When the United States Army stationed him in Germany in the 1980s, Erik Stevens had the opportunity to taste some great German beer. When he returned to the states, he found himself disappointed with the offerings here. “It was not easy to get good beer over here at the time, and craft beer wasn’t readily available,” Stevens said.
That prompted him to start brewing his own beer in 1988. When he retired from the Army after two combat tours in Iraq, he returned to his hometown of Broadalbin and decided to create a place where people could gather, relax, and enjoy a variety of fine craft beers. Stevens founded the Great Sacandaga Brewing Company and plans to open its taproom by the end of 2020.
Stevens found local, county, and state government extremely receptive to his plan. “They’ve been very helpful and cooperative throughout the process,” Stevens said. The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth (FCCRG) assisted Stevens in acquiring a $25,000 microenterprise grant from the New York State Community Development Block Grant Program. In addition, the FCCRG worked with Stevens to procure two small business loans.
He was able to purchase an older building in Broadalbin and completely renovate it, stripping it down to the studs. Stevens, an electrician by trade, was no stranger to this type of work. “We wanted to raise the ceilings to get a little bit more space and an Adirondack lodge-type of feel,” he said.
The décor furthers the feel. Stevens found an elk’s head at a local antique shop, and he designed the fireplace around that piece. A carving of a northern pike that hangs on the wall came from a local seller. Rounding out the Adirondack vibe is the front of the bar, which is covered with tree-trunk rounds that came from trees he took down on the property.
“We want to have a comfortable space for people to just gather together,” Stevens said. “Hopefully, businesses will be able to hold their meetings here, or we can do events, but it will just be a community gathering place to enjoy some decent beer.”
“We want to have a comfortable space for people to just gather together,” Stevens said.
Stevens plans on a beer selection with something to suit everybody, all made from New York State grains and hops. He has some IPA’s in the works, as well as the sour beers that have become popular with the younger generation, and English-style beers that he enjoys. The selection wouldn’t be complete without beers made from the traditional recipes like the ones he sampled in Germany that sparked the whole idea of brewing beer at home and now at the Great Sacandaga Brewing Co. In addition to standard recipes, Stevens also plans to offer some of his seasonal beers to keep his menu fresh, such as an Oktoberfest beer for fall and a spruce ale for the winter. “We want to have a little bit of everything for everybody to enjoy,” he said.
Stevens’ wife, Jerrianne, will be working alongside him, running the brewery’s taproom, planning events, and scheduling entertainment. The brewery doesn’t have a kitchen, so Stevens plans to bring in food trucks and perhaps have some prepared finger foods and appetizers available to go with the brew.
He hopes that the brewery will become an area landmark. “People can come in and taste our beers in the tasting room and then walk out with a couple of growlers or crowlers,” Stevens said. Eventually, he plans to distribute his beers to local bars and restaurants. www.greatsacandagabrewing.com