Episode #006 – Running with Oranges at Fort Orange Brewing
In this episode we sit down with Jim Eaton, part owner of Fort Orange Brewing Company located in Albany, NY. Along with his two co-owners, these three friends went from home brewing passion to new local brewery. They are building a great community in a cool industrial area and a place to check out if ever in upstate, NY.
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1:38 – Jim Eaton tells us the basics of who his partners are and when they got started.
2:17 – The wives of all three are the source of this partnership. As avid runners the wives helped build this home brewing bond between the husbands. Jim talks about the home brewing bond that connected them all.
3:20 – Jim himself is quite the runner and has done quite a few marathons. His running hobby started as a child due his father who was a high school track coach. It has been Jim’s outlet in life.
4:40 – All three owners still work full time jobs and the brewery has been their side hustle.
5:25 – All of the fermentation tanks are named after the children of the three owners. Yet, they have two more tanks needed to get all of the kids names on there.
6:05 – They are brewing on a 7 BBL system and the newest fermenter is a 15 BBL to accommodate double batches.
6:25 – Craig is the head brewer and this was a realization that even though all three are brewers, each has unique strengths. Jim is skilled with getting people in the building, John handles business, and Craig handles the beer. Yet, all three work together to discuss thoughts of beer evolution within the brewery.
7:29 – Granted at times it can be tough for all three to agree on the brewing choices, they find that their partnership is healthy and able to work harmoniously.
9:20 – Jim tells us about his horrible first batch of beer that caught fire. At least he got the bad batch out of the way. Amazing how many brewers started with Magic Hat #9 as their 1st home brew.
10:50 – Fort Orange has ten taps to choose from and that has been the goal to always keep that full. While at times they get a bit low, they work hard to always have all in house beers fully stocked.
11:50 – They also offer wine and cider for those who don’t want beer or are gluten free.
The start of Fort Orange
12:54 – It all started with a location. The goal was to find a warehouse and when they came across this location in Albany, they knew this would be the future home of Fort Orange. The area has tons of traffic and many other places to support.
16:00 – The name did not come around until the location was found. They have a mural of the original look of the area. It was an old Dutch Trading Post called Fort Orange. They wanted to maintain the history and name it after the areas birth. Everything they do features that trading posts logo which includes the brewery logo and the flight boards.
18:20 – The true origin though started at a pool party. They brewed three different IPA’s and when they debuted them between friends, they got great feedback. Yet the third one was a hit and gave them the confidence boosts to know they were onto something.
19:45 – The beer titled, “Where’d Bob Go” was named after someone who was a big part in getting them started.
20:30 – Jim loves the IPA’s they make. H2H and Momentum are his go to. Yet for easy drinking he goes for the Blueberry Bonde.
21:15 – They also offer cans of their beers as well for those who want to grab and go.
22:07 – NY is more known for its hazy IPA’s. That is what most go for when getting a beer. Many of the women in the area love the fruited blonde’s. Typically, winter time will be busy with darker beers like stouts and porters. Yet, while many places stop offering dark beer during the winter, they always keep a dark beer on tap.
24:11 – Jim tells us a story about how they realized the draw for good IPA’s after visiting some famed Northeastern breweries.
The growth of the business
25:37 – After about a year and a half, they have learned that people want variation. They quickly changed from having a steady lineup of the same beers to constantly changing it up. They have a cool Beer it Forward board that has been great at getting people in the door.
27:06 – They are a small crew but its all in the family except one who is practically family.
27:50 – They brew about two days a week. A lot of the demand is keeping up with local places that serve their beer as well through draught. Some beers are always on tap yet, they consistently rotate similar styles while offering something different.
29:30 – They want this to be a family a puppy friendly community. Community is very important to them because they want all to feel welcome and have fun while there.
30:43 – The front garage door is such an awesome touch. It was actually a 6 month anniversary present to themselves and it is a great look.
32:15 – One of their biggest events is the Corn Hole league that plays year round.
33:18 – They have had a blast in the short time being a brewery. They still self distribute and beat up their personal cars if need be to deliver beer.
34:49 – They offer tons of events of cool events like brewing days with Dad or themed trivia. Really neat way they get people involved.
Thanks for Listening
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