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Love Geneva

ALUMS MAKE THE HEART OF THE FINGER LAKES THEIR HOME

Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region, Geneva, N.Y. has been host to the Colleges for nearly two centuries- a city that has welcomed our students, supported our efforts and advanced our mission. But for many Hobart and William Smith Colleges alumni and alumnae, the region is simply home.

Victor Pultinas '09 and Jenna LaVita '08

Winemakers to Open Lake Drum Brewing

by Andrew Wickenden '09

In 2012, Victor Pultinas '09 and Jenna LaVita '08, both originally from Massachusetts, heard about the "Race for the Space," competition in Ithaca, N.Y., just days before the entry deadline, and mused, "What if we owned a business? What if we started a brewery?"

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed the farm brewery bill in June of that year, though for Pultinas, who was working as assistant winemaker at Cayuga Lake's Sheldrake Point Vineyards at the time, "It was really just dreamland."

But when Geneva announced its own race for space in 2013, Pultinas and LaVita were ready. They drew up and submitted to the City of Geneva a business plan for what has become Lake Drum Brewing.

Taking its name from the mysterious, cannon-like booms reported around Seneca Lake, Lake Drum joins the nearly 30 farm breweries that have popped up across the state since the bill was passed.

"The farm brewery bill is encouraging homebrewers to pursue their love of producing beer while making a leap of faith into the big leagues," says Pultinas, who has been an avid homebrewer for the past five years.

As the winners of Geneva's business development competition, Pultinas and LaVita received a prize package to help the brewery get off the ground, including:

  • storefront space and one year of free rent;
  • advertising and articles with the Finger Lakes Times;
  • architectural services by Sky High Architecture;
  • signage services from Geneva's Local Development Corporation and InSite: Architecture;
  • business guidance from Community Business Advantage;
  • marketing guidance from Hobart and William Smith Colleges Office of Communications;
  • and a one-year membership with the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce.

Lake Drum has readied its storefront for brewing and tasting with some elbow grease from a few friends and a fundraising campaign through indiegogo.com.

Surpassing the initial goal of $10,000, Lake Drum raised $12,200 from friends and HWS alums in the area and far away, as well as from total strangers.

"Using the tools we have at our grasp from winemaking," Pultinas says, he plans to brew beer once a week on-site, where patrons will be able to see the stainless steel equipment and watch the brewing process. In the fall, during apple harvest, Lake Drum will press fresh New York apples for cider. LaVita, who is the winemaker at Seneca Lakebased Ventosa Vineyards, will act as brewery consultant.

During Lake Drum's early stages, in addition to their own beer and cider on tap, the brewery will "feature other local microbreweries and cider mills," Pultinas says, adding that because of the farm brewery license, "we can serve basically any other New York product on site."

Set to open in 2014 on East Castle Street, Lake Drum is driven by locality, sustainability and inclusiveness. Lake Drum will source 100% of their apples and 20% of their hops and grains from New York State, and will solicit input and even brewing assistance from patrons.

"We want to provide a space that everyone can come to, that's inclusive, with affordable options," Pultinas says. "We want to have a mug club and have incentives to enhance the cooperative style of the business."

As for the beer itself, "we don't want to be too wild-no chocolate or mint or jalapeno beers," Pultinas says. "We'll stick with classic styles-I.P.A.s, stouts, pale ales-while experimenting with different brewing processes from around the world."