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Brew Central to Tie Trail to NY History

(6/18/15 – Cooperstown Crier) Making central New York the center of the craft beer and cider ale revolution is the goal of a trade group that visited Otsego County on June 11 to film at three Cooperstown Beverage Trail locations.

“We want to bring back the history and tradition of central New York,” said Sean Faulkner, an account executive at ABC Creative Group and one of the managers of the Brew Central campaign. “We want to tell the story of central New York to a national and international audience.”

Faulkner and his crew filmed at the Fly Creek Cider Mill, the Cooperstown Distillery and the Cooperstown Brewing Company for a series of web videos and Internet/print ads. The videos will also run at the CBT store on Main Street in Cooperstown.

At the first stop, the crew found a like-minded partner in Bill Michaels, who co-owns the mill with his wife Brenda and is also the president and founder of the trail.

“I think this Brew Central NY is going to be our geographic hanger,” Michaels said.

“Partners like Bill help move this whole campaign forward,” Faulkner said.

In addition to the three Otsego locations, Brew Central is filming at nine other locations in a region that stretches as far west as Onondaga County and as far east as Montgomery County.

The campaign has been aided by a state grant and will attempt to duplicate the success of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, marking Otsego County and the larger region as a focus of the craft beer craze and the booming hard apple cider business.

“It is like the wine trail,” Michaels said. “The more you have, the more you have concentrated in one area, the more people you are able to draw to the area.

“Everything we do is designed to bring people back to this sense of place,” he said.

Michaels and Faulkner both speak about the history of hops growing in Otsego County, a business that boomed here until the turn of the 20th century.

“When you look at pictures from (the 19th century) of Otsego Lake, if you are at the south end of the lake looking north, you don’t see trees, you see fields of hops everywhere,” Michaels said. “Now it is starting to come back. I know the Busch family is planting ... hops fields again on their property.”

The FCCM does not make craft beers, but has been involved in apple wines and hard ciders for decades. Michaels said he sees a parallel between that business and the rise of craft beers.

“Cider was the fermented beverage of choice until centralized brewing came about,” he said. “Now hard cider is where craft beer was in 1985. There has been a lot of growth ... and then it will begin to winnow down to where the good ones will become dominant.”

On camera, Michaels was interviewed by content developer Shane Liebler about the history of the mill. The crew shot “b-roll” of the facilities — supporting or background footage to help set the scene at each site. They then moved to the distillery on Railroad Avenue in Cooperstown and the CBC on River Street in Milford, repeating the interview and film process at those locations.

The Cooperstown Beverage Trail began in 2002 with four businesses, the FCCM, the CBC, Brewery Ommegang and Bear Pond Winery. Three more partners have joined the trail in the past few years: Butternuts Beer & Ale, Rustic Ridge Winery and the Cooperstown Distillery.

The trail stretches 37 miles, and according to its website, about 20,000 people made the trip through the entire trail in 2014.

For more information, go to www.cooperstownbeveragetrail.com/ or www.brewcentralny.com/.