Image Analysis

The image above is a copy of a black and white photo, longer horizontal than vertical, and presumably taken in the late 19th or early 20th century. The truck is carrying haphazardly placed kegs of beer, and pictured are 4 men, one in the back, one leaning against the front left tire, one standing on the foot railing, and one more seated inside the cab. The earliest reference to a bottling company in Saranac Lake is noted on a map from 1895, without a name, and then on a 1903 and 1908 map entitled, “F.E. Starks Bottling Works.”  This was the name of Adirondack Bottling Works, as it was owned by Frank E. Starks in 1906, which claimed, in an ad in the 1906 Village Directory, to be the largest bottling works in Northern New York state, distributing for Pabst Milwaukee Beer, Feigenspan’s Ale and Porter, as well as its own carbonated drinks.[4] In 1910 it was owned by Michael Curran, and then purchased in 1918 by Samuel Mendelsohn. However, as early as 1896 it was owned by I. Merkel and Sons, who bottled for two lager companies, and at the time was noted to have a “carriage.”[5]




What is Brewing?

Briefly, the brewing process consists of soaking malted barley in hot water to extract malt sugars, which is then boiled with hops for seasoning. The result is then cooled and added with yeast to begin fermentation. The fermentation process releases carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, and when the main fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled or canned with added sugar to create the carbonated effect. [1] Various brewers, writers about brewing, and beer drinkers will say that brewing beer is not that simple, which it isn’t. Different levels of hops and barley, the addition or omission of fruit extracts and garnishes, style of serving in a glass, bottle or can, or how fresh the beer is from the brewing process will alter the color, taste, clarity, and consistency of the creation.



The History of Brewing

There is archeological evidence suggesting that the practice of brewing has existed since the 6th millennium B.C. in ancient Egypt, and possible as far as back as 7,000 years in Iran and 5,000 years in Neolithic Europe.[2] Fast forward to the industrial revolution, and the process that is brewing beer was mechanized and transformed into an international enterprise, consisting of mega companies that span multiple countries, distributing all over the globe. However, it is worth noting, that this uniform beer beverage that has resulted, canned and watered down, has created a desire, and sometimes even an addiction over, small craft beers, IPAs (India Pale Ale, or beer with extra hops), and microbrews alike. Sometimes only available in small regions and in small supply, there has been a growing cult following for the beers that seemingly are produced with more and more attention, care, and passion. This is where the North Country comes in.




North Country Brewing

Often associated with hard, hands on work and craftsmanship, individuality, and  a “not fit for all” mentality of living and production, micro brewing, IPAs, and small batch beers like that of Township 7 Brewing Co. in Dickinson Center, NY, Adirondack Toboggan Microbrewery in Gouverneur, NY, Big Tupper Brewing and Racquett River Brewing both in Tupper Lake, NY, Blue Line Brewery in the Village of Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid Brewery and Big Slide Brewery in Lake Placid, NY to name a few, have found their niche. These breweries offer unique alternatives of a classic beverage enjoyed by locals, tourists, and even national fans.[3] A beer that is brewed in someone’s hometown, state, and even bears the name on its label or pays homage via illustration or design of the label, is much like a hometown team. People revel in enjoying beers that they can find personal, beers that are specific to a certain place they go, beers that aren’t in every liquor store and restaurant.







[1] John Palmer. "Introduction." Introduction - How to Brew. 2000. Accessed May 03, 2017.

[2] "Brewing." Wikipedia. April 19, 2017. Accessed April 25, 2017.

[3] "The New York State Beer Trail." New York State Brewers Association. Accessed April 25, 2017.

[4] "Historic Saranac Lake." Adirondack Bottling Works - Historic Saranac Lake - LocalWiki. Accessed April 26, 2017.

[5] "Historic Saranac Lake." Adirondack Bottling Works - Historic Saranac Lake - LocalWiki. Accessed April 26, 2017.