Tasting Utica’s Top Beverages
Utica, New York is a town with a lot more going on than its inland locale or post-industrial grittiness would suggest. Its days as the East’s “sin city”—famously run by organized crime and organized by political machines—seem to be in the past. The city has been somewhat reborn in recent years as a new home for immigrants from across the world: today, visitors to Utica can overhear 42 different languages, and meet representatives of diasporas from all the populated continents.
But there’s one area where the new Utica particularly thrives, while still celebrating the highlights of its rocky history: that is in the sector of deliciously sippable, skillfully brewed beverages.
Two Utica establishment are responsible for maintaining this special attraction, with two essential products. The Matt Brewing Company, with their flagship Utica Club beer, and the Utica Coffee Roasting Co. with their meticulously designed roasts.
In the winter months, consider planning a weekend trip to the Utica area for a day of beverage tasting and top-notch cross country skiing at the acclaimed Osceola Ski and Sport Resort in nearby Camden. Here, 20 km of well groomed trails fan out across gently rolling acres of dense Upstate forests and narrow fields, offering skiers and snowshoers a unique perspective of this underappreciated wilderness.
To start your day of adventuring, head straight to Utica Coffee’s Genesee location. This hip little joint has the Roaster’s wide range of blends brewed to perfection and available in bags, as well as a selection of pastries and breakfast concoctions. Founded twenty years ago, the Roasting Co. was an early player in the city’s lumbering revitalization, bringing to Utica a fresh cup of 90’s cool and an updated caffeine routine for locals. Fast forward twenty-odd years, and the upstate bean-masters have managed to become a city institution without losing any of their creative café flair.
No matter if you’re getting a quick cup of joe or a bag of beans for the road, be sure to try old standby dark roasts like Adirondack or Art of Darkness—or if you’re in the mood for a tarter, less traditional taste, try Sumatra Manhelding or Adirondack Blueberry (or Cannoli, French Toast, Cookies and Cream—the mouthwatering list goes on).
Come sundown in Utica, it’s time to sit back with a sip of the beer that’s been quenching the thirst of Uticans for almost a century. Acclaimed as the first ale sold in America after Prohibition, Matt Brewing’s Utica Club Pilsner-Lager is just as frothily quaffable as it was that on that first day of intemperance. A malty, subtly hoppy palate accompanies this beer’s remarkably full mouthfeel—which paired with chilled, slightly drippy pint glass blasts the drinker into another era of America. Toss in a vintage gold, red and blue can and perhaps a dimly lit Utica saloon, and the nostalgia is palpable.
In some ways a trip to Utica is like going back to prohibition times; in others, it’s a vision of a vibrantly diverse, coffeeshop-driven future. You can’t have one without the other, and through these two wildly different and utterly, uniquely Utican establishments, one can experience an exquisite blend of what’s past and what’s to come. As a home base from which to explore the surrounding fields and forest land by ski or by trail, Utica has all that you need, and plenty more.