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Central Leatherstocking Region
by Richard "Suds" Vang
Great Lakes Brewing News, (East Amherst, NY) 1997, 2:4

Presented by the Upstate Chunk & Paradigm Company


Even though I might be publicly stoned for saying so, the Dog Star in heat often leads one to contemplate the cooler days of autumn and the long winter ahead. The cool days ahead have their obvious rewards: there is little on this earth more beautiful than an upstate New York fall day. Winter, however, is another story altogether, and many of us wonder why we put ourselves through the annual torture. We get by, mostly by sticking together, sipping some winter brew, and dreaming of the dog days of August . . .

All escapes from reality aside, there is one surefire way to beat both seasons at their own game: home brewing. Recently, our region has joined the ranks of civilization with the opening of home brew shops and the formation of a home brew club. Each offers both the neophyte and the skilled brewing veteran the chance to beat the heat of the summer and the boredom of the winter, while at the same time learning and/or perfecting skills which will undoubtedly make them a better person.

John Mason, an all-grain brewer since around 1987, expanded his home-operated business and opened the Leatherstocking Homebrewers Supply in November of 1996. Located towards the rear of The Lifestyle Center, a health emporium on Oneonta’s historic Main Street, LHS offers a full cadre of ingredients, equipment, books, and hard-to-find gadgets. John, a recognized beer judge for about four years, offers his customers a wealth of experience, and is always willing to help the beginners. Grape enthusiasts will find all they need there too.

With his customer base slowly expanding, and existing mainly of locals in the 30-60 years-old range, John plans to expand his inventory cautiously, and may even go to mail order in the future.

Many of the folks whom you might see milling around LHS are members of the Leatherstocking Quaffers and Scoffers, a regional home brewers club founded in February of 1997. The LQ&S was born from an amateur brew competition held at the Cooperstown Brewing Company late last year, and has since formalized its organization by electing officers and publishing a newsletter. Joe Bilz (Pres. - Oneonta), Bumper White (VP/Sec. - Oneonta), and Ron Scheidle (Treas. - Oneonta) were originally elected as officers of the club, but Ron has since been succeeded by Clare Anderson as Treasurer. The group has grown to about 30 members, including a few women, and has plans to affiliate with the AHA.

The LQ&S meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7:00 pm. Although meetings are generally held either at the LHS, or at the Cooperstown Brewing Company, they try to get outside during the summer months. The group brings home brews for tasting and scoring by other members, or gets together and assigns one person to perform a different stage of the brewing process while the others critique and learn, or they publish a recipe in their newsletter, and everyone brings their attempt to the next meeting for review. Dues are around $10/year, and it is required that all members bring their own mug to the meetings.

The club has some special events in the planning stages, such as a pig roast/brew fund raiser, a same recipe contest, a brewery tour road trip, a possible 10K run, etc., etc. I just wish they would all get together and decide what their club name really is: The Otsego Homebrewers Association, the LQ&S, the Otsego Quaff and Scoffers, Otsego Quaffers and Scoffers -- ??? Must be the home brew.

Scott Hendrix up in Ilion has had to scale back the operations of Fermentations, from a store front to working out of his home again. A home brewer for about 9 years, Scott formalized his supply services about four years ago due to customer demand. His base of customers are in the "you-name-it-we-got-it" range. Although slightly reduced, he still provides most ingredients and replacement equipment, a good selection of books, and some wine making chemicals.

Working now by appointment only, Scott Hendrix/Fermentations can be reached at (315) 894-8057. Those wishing to join the Leatherstocking Quaffers and Scoffers should contact Bumper White by mail at 13 Spruce Street, Oneonta, NY 13820, or by phone at (607) 433-1604. The Leatherstocking Homebrewers Supply is open 10am-6pm, Mon.-Sat., and 10am-8pm on Thursdays. They are located at 175 Main Street, Oneonta, 13820, phone (607) 432-6133.


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