Ballpark Brews: Upstate Brewing Common Sense

usb2.jpgEarlier this Spring, I made my first trip of the year up to NYC to catch a few Mets games. Of the several beers I had, Upstate Brewing Common Sense Kentucky Common Ale was my favorite.

Before we get the review of Common Sense, I had the pleasure of asking Upstate’s owner, Mark Neumann, about his brewery and how Common Sense ended up in Citi Field:

I was really impressed with Common Sense when I had it at Citi Field, and especially intrigued by the genesis of the beer. What inspired you to dive deeper into the origins of the Kentucky Common style?

The Kentucky Common Ale was something we stumbled upon before we started brewing commercially. We were looking for a style that would appeal to the “masses” so to speak while not being a Blonde or Light Lager. The history of the beer and description just sealed the deal. It’s been our highest selling beer since day 1 and is still today. With all the issues related to getting hops (especially the great ones) it’s great to have a flagship beer that doesn’t rely on a ton of really exotic hops.

Of the beer offerings at Citi Field, I have to imagine Upstate is one of the smallest operations represented. What led to a brewery in quiet Elmira, NY getting set up for availability at Mets games?

I’d imagine that we’ve the smallest brewery represented at Citi Field by a pretty sizable margin. I know we were last year as well. We’ve been distributed in NYC since the middle of 2013, so we already had the distribution end taken care thankfully. The folks with Aramark who are in charge of food & beverage had actually had our beers at an event we did at Brooklyn Brewery a couple years back. They were very interested in NY beers and especially cans. Once they made the connection that we offered both it was just a matter of getting the beers submitted and approved. It’s been a great experience having our beers there.

All the beers you distribute come in the 16 oz “tallboy” cans. It’s easy to see why canning has become so prevalent lately (which you outline quite well on your site), but was there a specific rationale to going 16 oz as opposed to the more common 12 oz can?

16oz cans were a way to differentiate ourselves back in 2013 when very few breweries in NY were using them. Based on everything in the market now it seems like we were definitely at the forefront of things, which is cool. There are still very few breweries near us who can and use the 16oz format, so at least locally we still stand apart.

Have you had a chance to watch any New York baseball lately?

I grew up a Yankees fan, not a Mets fan. But after 10 years of living in Los Angeles and now working 80-100 hours a week with the brewery there isn’t a lot of time to sit and watch baseball, so I couldn’t tell you a whole heck of a lot about the Mets, Yankees or any other team for that matter. Haha good times!

Obviously the big news for Upstate is the brewery expansion, featuring a brand new tasting room. What are you most excited about, as projected July completion nears?

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Right now the construction of our new taproom is scheduled to be completed on July 22nd. It will give us much more space than we have now. We will have many more tables and a much nicer and more comfortable space for customers. We’ll also have a decent sized patio so people can enjoy being outside for the brief window we get each year to be outside. The current taproom space will be converted to production space so we can get a few more tanks into our fleet. It will allow us to do more small batch beers for the taproom and for limited distribution. We’d like to experiment with a bunch of new styles and get creative.

Sounds great. Thanks again to Mark for taking some time to chat!

Down to brass tacks.

usbcs

Obviously, I enjoyed Common Sense straight from the can, so I had to check Google Images to see what it looked like in a glass. I was right on my assumption of a slightly reddish brown hue, but was surprised to see virtually no opacity. From my drinking experience, I assume it was cloudy and possibly unfiltered to an extent – not so.

CS is smooth and creamy – malt forward with balancing sourdough yeast characteristics. The hops take a back seat and provide just a touch of floral balance, at a markedly low 22 IBU. The finish is clean as a whistle, inviting you to come right back for another sip and enjoy the malty goodness all over again.

Scouting Report (20-80 scale)

See: 65

Smell: 70

Taste: 70

Feel: 75

Overall: 70

I feel pretty confident I had Common Sense under ideal circumstances. Upper 50’s temperatures paired with a bright warming mid-day sun made for a relaxed, lazy Sunday matinee atmosphere at the park. The laid back, malty Common Sense was the perfect beer to add to the mix. That being said, I’d certainly grab one for any occasion at Citi.

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