Walt & Whitman Brewery opens brewery in former Saratogian building

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — For decades until it closed, pedestrians walking along Lake Street downtown could look inside the windows of the Saratogian Building to watch the print of everyday life before heading around the corner to take a copy.

The old newspaper building was sold in 2019 to make way for a café and a craft brewery – but from this week community members will once again be able to look inside its windows for a glimpse of the behind the scenes of production. This time, however, instead of a printing press, it’s a 10-beer brewhouse.

Walt & Whitman Brewerylocated at 20 Lake Ave, officially opened its brewery last week, marking the completion of a four-year long renovation process to restore the historic building.

“It’s been a long time coming for us,” owner Kathy Crager said. “It’s always been the plan to complete this last part of the building, and we’re excited to share it with the community as the community continues to support us.”

The family business includes the Whitman Taproom on the first floor and the Walt Cafe on the second floor. It officially opened in December 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic increased supply costs and derailed renovation efforts. The age and structure of the building, erected in 1902, also contributed to construction delays – but Crager said the team remained committed to enhancing the building’s original charm and maintaining its history.

Named after the New York poet, the brewery was inspired by Walt Whitman’s career as a progressive literary pioneer. Crager said she hopes the company follows a similar path as a pioneer in its own industry. “We take simple, artisanal ingredients, by hand, making a wonderful product but pushing the palette a bit and giving people a different experience,” she said.

The new brasserie is located on the second floor of the building next to the Walt Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch as well as café-inspired cocktails. In addition to the downstairs dining room, the brasserie features another 16-tap system and full-service bar and mimics the rest of the building’s interior with sprawling brickwork, exposed wooden beams exposed wood and ducts.

“Imagine these Belgian breweries with long community tables and bringing people together over craft beer,” Crager explained. The new spot also has its own entrance at the corner of Maple Ave and Lake Street, which Crager said previously served as the building’s hallmark with the Saratogian sign atop the door.

A new pizza oven has been installed in the lobby to expand service of the brewery’s popular Detroit-style pizza, in which cheese is controversially piled before sauce on its freshly baked rectangular crust. The expansion also increased storage space for the brewery’s self-distribution product line, which Crager says has reached Troy and will expand to Albany.

The room officially opened on Thursday and will continue to be open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. (the kitchen closes at 9 p.m.). Guests of the Walt Cafe will also be able to use the brasserie space throughout the day to enjoy their food and work remotely.

“It’s very important to us that the whole building is open, we really want people to come in because it may feel different from the first time, they came before COVID, there are a lot of different experiences,” added Crack.

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