Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Piss Beers of Upstate New York: Part 2, Utica Club (Uncle Charlie)

I need to immediately preface this post (follow up to Part 1: Genny) with some disclaimers. By saying "piss beer" I mean no insult and I am not being a beer snob or puttin' on airs. I have a soft spot down deep in my heart for Utica Club (in the wiki, scroll down for info on UC), and I actually think it is one of the finer beers in its genre (American Lagers). I am saying this to avoid the torrent of hate mail that I would receive from proud Uticans if they actually thought I was insulting UC. I don't know what it is about Uticans, but they are a touchy folk. Two of my most trafficked posts are the Utica specialties Chicken Riggies and Utica Greens. I took a couple liberties with both of the recipes and the response, ahem, was a little venomous (someone told me to die). So anyways, I like Utica Club.

I like everything about Utica Club starting with the golden box. Just look at that proud design with "Utica Club" splashed across the front in crimson. Utica club is a beer with a storied history (you should really read the wiki). Brewed by the Matt Brewing Company (brewers of the venerable Saranac family of beers), "Uncle Charlie" has been around for quite a while. In fact, it was officially the first beer in the United States sold after prohibition. I'm not lying, just read the box.

Utica Club and I go way back. My dad has been a die hard Schultz and Dooley mug collector for as long as I can remember. I think he has all of them, plus a crap ton of the newer ones. Not that I blame him, Schultz and Dooley are pretty much the best brand mascots of all time. Come on folks, a German mug and an Irish mug who argue? That's good stuff. Here is one of their old commercials, there are more on youtube.


Behold UC in it's golden vessel.

I didn't do a pour shot, but Utica Club is a pale gold much in the vein of Genny, High Life, or any of the other usual suspects. In flavor it is slightly sweet, with only a hint of hops. This beer begs for a cooler full of half melted ice. Drunk ice cold, for my money Utica Club is one of the classics in American style lagers, meant to thoroughly refresh you on a balmy New York summer day.

You can criticize away, and drink whatever you choose, but don't tell me that Utica Club is crap. I have worked in a craft brewery, I brew my own beer, and I am a true lover of good beer and I will remain unconvinced. I just like the stuff, and as I said about Genny the other day, it has its place. They drink a lot of good wine in France, but on the other hand, a lot of the stuff they drink on a daily basis is plonk they buy in milk jugs at the market. You don't always need to drink the high test. There is a place for craft beer, and there is a place for affordable American Lager. We should not look down our noses.



  1. Very nice review. I completely agree on the "cheap beer" front. A lot of beer people detest macro brews and I can't honestly agree with them. They say life is too short to drink cheap beer. I'd like to amend that to say "life is too short to drink bad beer". Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it's bad. Every beer has a time and a place. Besides, an ice cold beer like this in the company of good friends is better than a good beer all alone, I think.

  2. I love Utica Club! It got pretty scarce in Syracuse for a few years because quite honestly, Saranac has a much wider audience and much higher margins.. So I used to make a trip out to Utica every other month to stock up.. Now I have a couple of places I in Syracuse where I can usually score a couple of cases.. I still have to go out to Utica to catch it on tap but it's not like I mind..

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  4. I haven't seen a UC in YEARS! WOW.

  5. Nice write up. I thoroughly enjoy UC. While I also like Saranac (Black Forest), UC is a good everyday-type of beer, at a good price. There's just something about its naturally-carbonated flavor that's amazing. You just can't beat the crispness of a cold UC after mowing the lawn.

    "A day without UC is like a day without sunshine"
    -Utica Proverb, ironic in that there is an abundance of UC, but never any sunshine in CNY

  6. UC for me! Good write up. There is just something about the naturally-carbonated taste that makes UC superior to additive/preservative-laden competitors. There's nothing like the crispness of a cold UC after mowing the lawn! And while Saranac is great, the beer of the people will always be Uncle Charlie.

    "A Day Without UC Is Like a Day Without Sunshine."
    -Spontaneously generated Utica proverb, ironic in that there is an abundance of UC but no sun in CNY

  7. UNCLE CHARLIE - Awesome! UC is our unofficial beer of moe.down ten years running!

  8. I drank it once, in college, and it is still for me the benchmark of terrible, I still call it the worst beer I've ever had. But maybe it was an off day. I'll try it again if pressed.


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