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.
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Pete! Thank you for such a great review of Utica Coffee, Saranac Brewery and our amazing city filled with incredible diversity ?
Consider your next cup of coffee on us.
Thanks for your note, I will pass it on to Pete.
My daughter goes to Utica College and our entire family loves Utica Coffee and now Utica Club which spawned the article. It will hit Instagram today, please feel free to share.
Such a refreshing review of Utica! A rust belt city with lots of new growth.
Don’t sleep on the BREIA trails when you are there. 25 minutes north of Utica are 70 km of professionally manicured classic cross country ski trails in the foothills of the Adirondacks with varying degrees of difficulty at no cost to the public!
Thanks Nick, will include BREA next time!
Also worth a look if you happen to be in Utica: when snow depth allows, the city beautifully grooms about 10km of trails around Valley View Golf Course, through Roscoe Conkling Park, and into the South Woods Switchbacks. They’re intended as multi-use ski and snowshoe trails, but are groomed super wide and excellent for skating if you catch them within a couple days of grooming! (Before the boot-packers and dog-walkers inevitably trample them.)
Zac, that is awesome, I never knew they groomed in Utica and will check it out during the next snow storm.