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New York's Central Leatherstocking Region
by Richard "Suds" Vang
Great Lakes Brewing News, (East Amherst, NY) 1998, 3:3

Presented by the Upstate Chunk & Paradigm Company


Well folks, yours truly is back after a few months hiatus. Our Spring season continued its winter slumber a little too long, and Old Man Winter skipped it altogether and went right into Summer. The clear, sunny days and eighty-degree temperatures have been very good to the hop yard at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. Already this year the vines are as tall as they were in their first year of growth. But as they used to say in Dodgertown, USA: "wait ‘til next year."

And what a year it will be! As part of their centennial year celebration, the Museum has declared 1999 to be the "Year of the Hop." A year-long exhibition is planned to honor of the industry which built many of the communities in our region, namely hops cultivation. In the mid to late 1800s the Central Leatherstocking Region produced 80% of the nation’s hops. In addition to the hop yard, which is cultivated in the old ways by hand, the Museum has acquired a vintage hop barn which they will restore into a working kiln. Visitors will be treated to seminars, lectures, local beer tastings, and many other activities related to "hop culture", including hop picking festivals and hop dances.

If that’s not enough to whet your hankerin’ for history, Brewery Ommegang is hopping on the bandwagon by securing and restoring their own hop kiln. Although this one won’t be returned to working condition, and will instead be used for exhibit, it will be well worth the trip to see it, and to taste their fine Belgian ales. Ommegang has hit the streets to rave reviews, and we now wait with anticipation for their first batch of Hennepin, rumored to be very soon.

The big news, however, is the announcement of a new tour service called "Hop Country Tour and Shuttle." HCTS will be providing transportation to visit Cooperstown Brewing Company, Brewery Ommegang, and the F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica, where they will be treated to brewery tours, tastings, and the chance to spend some hard-earned dough in their gift shops. In and around the breweries visitors will take guided excursions to the Leatherstocking countryside between Milford and Utica to learn about the unique history of 19th century hop production in upstate New York. The HCTS guide, who just happens to be the person writing this, will take visitors to see the hop barns that still exist today, relate their individual history, and discuss how they fit into the general context of the 19th century industry. The tours will also be hitting the local community museums to see their hop exhibits, and to The Farmers’ Museum as well.

The tours will be conducted on a half-day or full-day basis, focusing on just the Cooperstown area breweries, or just on F.X. Matt’s for a half-day, or all three for a full day. A lunch stop at an area restaurant will be made on the full day tour. For more information and to get on the mailing list, please write, call or email to: Richard Vang, Hop Country Tour and Shuttle, PO Box 815, Cooperstown, NY 13326, 607-547-7206, Bring your cameras folks, because they are very few places more beautiful on a summer’s day than upstate New York!

[Editor's Note: Due to the overwhleming cost of insurance, HCTS is no longer in business, but you may still contact me for information and to possibly act as a guide.]


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