By LIBBY CUDMORE • from SUMMER DREAMS
David Olson calls the Red Shed Brewery’s Otsego Golden Ale a “quit your job” beer.
“My wife Suzanne and I had been living in Pittsburgh and we would come up to see her father, Jack Hasbrouck, who made home-brewed beer,” he said. “We wanted to move closer to family, but when I had that Otsego Golden Ale, I thought, ‘We could sell this.’”
The expanded Red Shed – it’s opened for its second summer at 709 Route 33 south of Cooperstown, just up the road from Brewery Ommegang – with a dozen of its own beers on tap.
They include the award-winning Jessica’s Red, which took silver at the New York State Craft Brewers conference. “It’s made with a rye, so it imparts a spicy flavor,” said Jack, who opened Red Shed in an actual red shed in 2015 on a hilltop above Middlefield Center.
“When we were living in Pittsburgh, we would get up early, drop Anders and Ellis at daycare, work late and pick them up,” he said. “We realized that wasn’t the best long-term plan.”
They enjoyed visiting Jack and drinking his home-brew, and after a sip of his Otsego Golden, David got the idea to market it. “I could see myself buying a six-pack of that at a store,” he said. “So we packed up the kids, the cat, the dog and the fish and moved into Jack’s house.”
Jack, who had sold his landscaping business in New Mexico, moved to the hilltop farm a half-dozen years ago; his sister lives in Stamford. “I used to brew in New Mexico,” he said. “When I moved up here, I got a farm brew license.”
From there, he opened the original Red Shed, at 817 Butterbowl Road, now a summertime tasting room open on weekends only. Next door, he built a whole new draft system to enable Matt Wayland to brew and store beer. The Route 33 brewpub, meanwhile, is open year-‘round.
“We designed the building so we can accommodate music,” said David. “When we first got in here, you could run your hand along the ceiling, it was that low.”
The ceiling was raised and a portable stage installed to host music every Saturday night, 52 weeks a year, as well as an active trivia scene every Thursday.
And a $437,000 CFA – a state economic development grant – announced last December for what was called the Red Shed Brewery Experience, to further expand musical offerings.
“We’ve tasked ourselves with driving tourism and creating events,” David said. “We want to be part of people’s stories, their events, their vacations.”
The patio and entertainment area will also be the site of the upcoming “Camo-Lot,” an Upstate take on
the Renaissance Faire on Saturday, Aug. 8, and an Octoberfest, planned for the last week of September.
“We’re going to have a polka band,” said David. “And we’re bringing back the dachshund parade. All dogs are welcome, of course, but last year, we had 20 dachshunds leading the parade.”
The new brewery is designed to be family-friendly, with an outdoor patio, a fire pit and a closet full of board games, from Candyland to Cards Against Humanity.
And although food was always available from the “little kitchen,” this year a farm-to-table food truck opened Monday, June 10. “When we first opened, we had snacks, but people would come in and ask for food, and we’d have to say we didn’t have any,” he said. “They would walk right out.”
The menu is locally sourced, the food fresh. “It’s going to be local beef, local buns, local vegetables,” he said. “I mean, what goes better with a beer than a cheeseburger?”
In addition to its own brews, the Red Shed also aims to support small breweries by going “keg-for-keg.” “We want to get other farm breweries that aren’t in distribution,” said David. “And we sell growlers.”
But you don’t have to give two weeks’ notice to enjoy an Otsego Golden Ale. “It’s a clean, simple, easy-drinking beer,” he said. “It pairs well with any thirst.”