By Carey Tucker
There’s nothing quite like having an unexpected day off in the middle of summer. For those of us who precede their job titles with the word ‘freelance’, these days are sometimes self-directed. In any event, it was a great day taking off from our BrewsTraveler.com headquarters in Colborne, Ontario and driving east along Lake Ontario to the Sackets Harbor Brewing Company (located between 210 – 212 West Main Street) in Sackets Harbor, New York.
Depending if you take the scenic route (which I did), or zip along Interstate 81 from the border crossing at the 1000 Islands, the trip to Sackets Harbor should take anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half from Kingston, Ontario or Syracuse, New York.
Sackets Harbor is a beautiful historic village in the spectacular 1000 Islands area approximately 30 miles from Canada and one of the largest natural harbors on Lake Ontario. This prime navigational location provided important military ties to wars and training that started with 1812 until the US government declares their properties surplus in the 1950’s. In 1875 the Utica and Black River Railroad opens service to Sackets Harbor. Later taken over by New York Central it stops this service in 1949.
Unlike many of the “living” history recreations the Sackets Harbor historic preservation is not manned by costumed guides but real people have real stores and homes in the historic and undesignated but picturesque areas of town. Around the late 1960’s the State of New York purchased the Union Hotel and several parcels of land adjacent to the Old Battlefield Park with the intent of opening the historic site to the public.
The Village of Sackets Harbor adopted an Historic Zoning Law and by 1974 vacant and deteriorating Madison Barracks is listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with the Sackets Harbor Battlefield.
The Sackets Harbor Historical Society created by village residents continues to stimulate the communities revitalization and purchases the Old Bank Building and the USO Building. This movement has transformed Sackets Harbor continues to this day now encompassing the local waterfront.
The Brewing Company opened in May of 1996. That year they sold beer out of the Sackets Harbor pub, and began selling kegs of beer to other restaurants in the area. The beer was brewed onsite in an addition built on the front of the restaurant. SHBC outgrew its own brewing facilities in August 1997, and started contracting brewing out to Middle Ages Brewery in Syracuse. By November of 1997 SHBC had outgrown Middle Ages as well, and began working with Ten Springs Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, NY. SHBC sells about 46,500 gallons of beer per year. About 15,500 of those gallons are still produced at the Sackets Harbor location.
The bar at Sackets Harbor is cozy with high ceilings, beautiful dark stained wood, and a clear view of the brew house. You can order a sampler, which comes on a cute toy wood train set. I tried the flagship WAR OF 1812 ALE (which can be found in bottles in upstate New York), the seasonal Feather Hammer Maibock, and the Independence Wheat. My friend tried the GRANTS GOLDEN, which, for lighter ale, had a ton of flavor. A real find!
During our visit we munched on the complimentary breadsticks and talked local brewing with the bartender. We asked about the new microbrewery in nearby Watertown, but at the time of our visit. it had not received its license to serve its own house brews. We then took a quick tour of the dining area and discovered the outdoor patio overlooking the local marina, very scenic. We also discovered that Sackets Harbor Brewing owns Good Fellows, a brick oven pizza and wine bar, just a few doors up the street.
Walking on Main Street you’ll find interesting shops and fine eating establishments such as Tin Pan Galley with its wonderful stone patio, Vachon’s 1812 Steak & Seafood Company, and the Lake Ontario Playhouse, which during the summer operates a patio. Nearby the historic Madison Barracks including a quaint waterside restaurant. All in all, a return visit is definitely on the agenda. However, one should take note that things start to quiet down in Sackets Harbor during the winter months, so it never hurts to call ahead.
Driving directions to Sackets Harbor.
Follow Interstate 81 to exit 45 (Arsenal St.), take Route 3 west about 8 miles until you see signs for Sackets Harbor. This will take you onto Broad Street. Make a right onto Main Street (just past the fire department on your left) and you’re in the heart of downtown and all the action.
Tourism for Sackets Harbor
315 482 2520
Sackets Harbor Brewing Co
407 W. Main St.
Tin Pan Galley
110 West Main
Vachon’s 1812 Steak & Seafood Company
212 West Main Street
Lake Ontario Playhouse
103 West Main St. Sackets Harbor, NY 13685
SACKETS HARBOR EVENTS CALENDAR
|1||3pm||CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT||Battlefield State Historic Park|
|4||9pm||INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION FIREWORKS||Battlefield State Historic Park|
|6 – 7||1812 SHOOT OUT LACROSSE TOURNAMENT||Madison Barracks|
|7||‘ATLAS’–Big Band, Oldies,Dance Music||CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT|
|14||John Rossbach/Andrew Van Norstrand American Folk and Bluegrass||CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT|
|18 – 21||FIREMEN’S FIELD DAYS & CAN-AM FESTIVAL|
|18||5pm||CARNIVAL MIDWAY OPENS||Third Alarm-West Washington St.|
|18||7pm||CONCERT – SENTINEL MARCHING BAND||Third Alarm-West Washington St.|
|19||5pm||CARNIVAL MIDWAY OPENS||Third Alarm-West Washington St.|
|19||8pm||BLOCK PARTY with “SWING SHIFT”||Third Alarm-West Washington St.|
|20||10am||CAN-AM CRAFT FAIR -OVER 50||Crafters Visitor Center Lawn Visitor Center|
|20||11am||CAN-AM PARADE||Main Street|
|20||TOP VETTE PRODUCTION “CLASSIC CORVETTE SHOW AND RALLY”||Madison Barracks Parade Ground|
|20||12pm||CARNIVAL MIDWAY OPENS||Third Alarm- West Washington St.|
|20||8pm||BLOCK PARTY with “SWING SHIFT’||Third Alarm-West Washington St.|
|21||10am||CAN-AM CRAFT FAIR||Visitor Center Lawn|
|21||TOP VETTE PRODUCTION “CLASSIC CORVETTE SHOW AND RALLY”||Madison Barracks Parade Ground|
|21||2pm||MERRY-GO-ROUND YOUTH THEATER||Sackets Harbor Sentinal Bandstand|
|21||‘DAVID & GINGER HILLDEBRAND”||CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT|
|28||3pm||“GREY LARSEN & PADDY LEAGUE- Vocal/Instrumental Music-Modern – Traditional Celtic||CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT Battlefield State Historic Park|
|4||“ST. LUKE’S MALE CHORUS & WOMEN’S CHOIR”||CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT Battlefield State Historic Park|
|10-11||ARTS & JAZZ FESTIVAL||Market Square Park|
|10||10am-8pm||ARTISTS DERBY||Historic Districts of Sackets Harbor|
|10||7pm||ART SHOW OPENING||Visitor Center Sackets Harbor Sentinal Bandstand|
|11||10am – 8pm||ARTIST DERBY||Historic Districts of Sackets Harbor|
|11||10am-4pm||CHILDREN’S ART DERBY|
|11||11am||ART SHOW||Visitor Center|
|11||3-5pm||CONCERT – “FRANK SACCI “-BIG BAND SOUND||Battlefield State Historic Park|
|11||“AL GILEWICZ’-Soap Stone Carver- Exhibit & Demonstration||Seaway Discovery Center|
|18||“BRIDAL SHOW’||for more information-646-2911|
|18||ARTS ASSOCIATION (AANNY) RECEPTION||Historical Society Museum|
|18||2pm||ARTIST DERBY JUDGING||Historical Society Museum|
|18||3pm||CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT ‘STEVE LESTER’-Classic & Contemporary Guitar||Battlefield State Historic Park|
|18||10am -3pm||TOURS OF THE TOWER||United Presbyterian Church|
|25||3PM||‘FROG BRIDGE” – Traditional Celtic-French Canadian||CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT|
|26||930am||EXTENDED CHIMERS CONCERT||United Presbyterian Church|
|31||ALL DAY VILLAGE WIDE GARAGE SALE DAY|
Date Time Event Place
lst 3PM CONCERTS ON THE WATERFRONT –
10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION BAND
Battlefield State Historic Park
8 – 15 ‘PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT’-AANY-Visitor Center Visitor Center
28 10pm CYSTIC FIBROSIS-GREAT STRIDES WALK-A-THON
Date Time Event Place
OCT 12th OKTOBERFEST – Visitor Center Lawn Market Square Park
To confirm any event schedule contact the
Sackets Harbor Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 17
Sackets Harbor, New York 13685