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Good time for beer

August 4, 2012
Editorial by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Publisher Catherine Moore, Managing Editor Peter Crowley

It's exciting to see new businesses start up, even more so when one has the potential to promote its hometown as a whole.

Funny as it may seem, a brewery is one of those kinds of businesses. For example, the Lake Placid brand of beer is available in supermarkets throughout much of the East Coast, spreading the good vibes about its namesake village far and wide, whether or not its drinkers have even heard of the village, its two Winter Olympics or even the Adirondacks. On a smaller scale, the same good word is spread by P3 vodka, distilled in Lake Placid, and the Great Adirondack Brewing Company, which doesn't bottle its craft beer but sells it at the Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood restaurant downtown Lake Placid.

These beverages leave a good taste in one's mouth (hopefully, anyway), and if that's tied to a brand that involves the Adirondacks or an Adirondack community, then it's good for all of us.

Therefore, we're glad Mark Gillis is well under way toward starting Blue Line Brewery in his new hometown of Saranac Lake. We look forward to being able to raise a glass of his suds to toast him.

He won't be bottling it yet; like Great Adirondack, Blue Line beer will only be sold in growlers (large glass jugs) and at some local bars. While some may be disappointed by that, there are good reasons. Bottling is a massively expensive investment, it might be a tough time to put a new line of six-packs up for sale. While the recent craft beer explosion has been good for brewers in many ways - e.g., more customers drinking it and more stores selling it - there's also such a wealth of other microbrews available on the shelves of stores that any new brew is swimming in competition. (Check out the overwhelming selection at Saranac Lake's Fusion Market, for example.) That's good for customers but not so much for brewers.

Blue Line is starting out just as New York politicians get frothy about supporting the state's beer makers. The Legislature and governor recently renewed a tax break for in-state brewers, and beyond that, they passed a trio of bills that will remove roadblocks to farm-based brewers. What if you wanted to grow your own hops and barley, make top-notch beer with it and sell it? While it sounds like a good idea, until last month, you wouldn't have been able to do the following things in New York:

-have tastings on your premises

-run a restaurant, inn, bed and breakfast, hotel or conference center on or next to the farm brewery

-sell wine

-sell things like beer-making equipment and supplies, food, souvenirs (things farm wineries could do).

The fact that these restrictions were on the books is something of an embarrassment to New York. There are a ton of people with creative entrepreneurial ideas, but there are also a ton of outdated, unnecessary legal roadblocks in states like ours. Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims to be trying to make the state more "open for business," and progress is being made - but wow, there's a lot of stuff to undo.



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