If these guys don’t look familiar to you, allow me to introduce you. This is Justin Staskiewicz and Richard Mathy, owners of the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery in Old Forge. I recently had the pleasure of meeting them when I went to check out their brewery and wanted to share my experience with you.
I’ll tell you right off the bat what I liked about Fulton Chain Craft Brewery.
- They have lots of options, averaging 8-10 beers on tap.
- They have charging ports located under the bar to recharge your cell phone while you hang-out.
- In addition to awesome beer, they offer mix drinks, including a Bloody Betsy made with Rachel’s Raquette Lake Elixir.
- They allow dogs in the brewery. Seriously.
- I really liked the layout of the bar, the stone work and the high ADK style bar chairs.
- They are really great guys, they make a great product and have an awesome, positive philosophy on life. You’re going to love it there.
LIFE: “Where are you guys from and how did you meet?”
JUSTIN: “I’m from the Rochester area and Rich is from Utica. We met in 1998 while camping with our families at Golden Beach in Raquette Lake. My family has been camping in the ADKS since before I was born.
RICH: “My family used to camp on Limekiln but one year they were driving up the back way during a heavy rain storm and missed the turn. They ended up at Golden Beach and we’ve been camping there ever since.
LIFE: “How did you get started?”
JUSTIN: “What group of guys don’t say to their buddies at some point, ‘we should run a bar’? When I graduated college, Rich asked me ‘What do you want to do with your degree?’ to which I replied, ‘I’m not sure, but I know I don’t want to work for someone else and be tied down to a desk.’
I had been home brewing for a while. I started out with kits you can buy on-line, it gives you all the pieces of the puzzle and then moved up to using all grains. Using all grains not only produced a better quality, better tasting beer, it allowed me to create and develop my own recipes. This is where I really got into it.
In the beginning, we asked our friends for their feedback, but quickly realized that sometimes your friends will tell you it’s great when maybe it’s just good. So, to get honest feedback, we gave samples to our friends and then asked them to send it to their friends, people we don’t know. This gave us the feedback we were looking for.
Then we took 5 or 6 different beers we were brewing at home and shared them with Lisa, the owner of Tony Harpers, her son Brian and the patrons at the 46 Sky Bar and again asked everyone for their honest feedback. We were encouraged enough by their feedback to proceed in making plans on opening a business that would allow us to do what we love - brew the best beer using the best ingredients.
LIFE: “Do you have a Farm Brewery License and what does that mean?”
JUSTIN: “Yes we do. It means that by law until the end of 2018 at least 20% of the hops and 20% of other ingredients must be grown in New York State. Starting in 2019 the percentage goes up to 60%/60% but we are already creating our beer using 85% hops and 85% of other ingredient being locally grown ingredients.
The Farm Brewers Law was designed to get farmers to grow more beer related crops which in turn creates more jobs. We started this brewery wanting to create local beer using local ingredients so this is a win/win for everyone.
LIFE: “How did you choose Old Forge?”
JUSTIN: “We initially looked at a lot of areas outside of the Adirondacks but most were already inundated with bars and/or breweries. When we got down to it, the central Adirondacks is where we met, it’s where some of our best memories were made and its where we want to be. We knew we wanted to be in Old Forge, it was just a matter of finding the right place at the right price.
A couple of weeks after trying our beer, Lisa from Tony Harpers called to say that she had a building in town and gave us the opportunity to check it out to see if we thought it would be a good spot for the brewery, and it was.
LIFE: “Why isn’t it called Old Forge Brewery?”
JUSTIN: “Because when we were researching names and typed ‘Old Forge Brewery’ into Google, we realized that there is a brewery in Dansville, Pennsylvania that is called Old Forge Brewery and we didn’t want to duplicate. Considering our location, we decided that the name Fulton Chain Craft Brewery would be perfect.
LIFE: “Does the fact that you’re not located on Main Street hurt business?”
JUSTIN: “If you look you’ll find that most craft breweries are not located on Main Street. Instead, they’re located just off the beaten path, in some cases, 10 miles or more off the beaten path. Fortunately, in our case, we are just a 3-minute walk from Slickers, a 6-minute walk from the Back Door and a 9-minute walk from the center of town. We have the best of both worlds. We’re off the beaten path yet close to everything.
LIFE: “When did you open?”
JUSTIN: “June 26, 2015”
LIFE: “What has been the biggest change since you opened?”
RICH: “The crowd size. Our busiest day during our first summer, was an average day during our second summer.”
JUSTIN: “It is often standing room only so we’ve put chairs on the porch and places to sit on the side to help accommodate everyone.”
LIFE: “Congratulations on your recent recognition!”
JUSTIN: “Yes, we were just voted “Best Micro Brewery of the Adirondacks” by Adirondack Life.
LIFE: “Does any other restaurant carry your beer?”
JUSTIN: “Yes, primarily during the summer months. You can enjoy our beer at the Back Door Bar, 46 Sky Bar, Five Corners Café, Tony Harpers, Great Pines and Daikers.
LIFE: What’s your best-selling beer?”
JUSTIN: “At the moment it’s Go Fluff Yourself - A peanut butter and fluff ale.
LIFE: “What do you find most rewarding?”
RICH: “When you bust your butt while working for someone else, you are often paid the same as someone who may not be working as hard or care as much as you do; but when you bust your butt working for yourself you can see that hard work pay off. For us it’s rewarding when people you don’t know are enjoying your product. To see the fruits of your labor come to fruition is pretty awesome.”
LIFE: “What has been the most surprising thing you’ve experienced?”
RICH: “The number of mainstream beer drinkers we’ve converted. Often people will walk in and order a Coor’s Light not realizing that we are a craft beer brewery. We get them to try something they probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise and they end up liking it when they didn’t think they would.
LIFE: “Do you sell food?”
JUSTIN: “We only offer snacks and popcorn but The Pickle Boat Grill restaurant will be opening next door this summer. Guests will be allowed to bring our beer into their restaurant if they want to eat there or better yet, people can come here, call in their order (we’ll provide menu’s – they provide the cell phone) and their meal will be delivered to them here in the brewery. Guest’s also have the option to bring food in from other restaurants if they wish.
LIFE: “I know you’ve been to a lot of other craft breweries prior to opening your own. Is there anything you made note of to NOT duplicate? Something you didn’t like that other breweries do?”
RICH: “Justin and I both are very good at paying attention to what we like rather than focusing on things we don’t like, so I’ll answer from the viewpoint that we knew we wanted to design our brewery to have a layout that would allow us the ability to interact with our guests and I think we’ve done that here. We love the aspect of getting to know people and exchanging stories. That’s the good stuff.
LIFE: “What is something you offer guests may not be aware of?
JUSTIN: “Most breweries offer growlers, we offer Crowlers! Growlers are often made out of glass and are 64 ounces in size. Our Crowlers are 32-ounce aluminum cans making them light, easily portable, safer than potential broken glass and 100% recyclable.
LIFE: “A dog and his owners just came in, what is your policy on bringing dogs to the brewery?”
JUSTIN/RICH: “It's the same as bringing children. They must be well-behaved and not bite. We have water bowls for dogs if they need them and we would rather they be inside than left out in a hot or freezing car.”
How can you not love that?
What do you think? Have you been to the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery? Do you plan on going? Please leave a comment below or on FB and tell us your thoughts.
Fulton Chain Craft Brewery
127 North Street
Old Forge, NY