By Maureen Werther
For Kurt Borchardt and Colin Quinn, brewing beer is both an art and a science.
The owners of Artisanal Brew Works at 41 Geyser Road in Saratoga Springs opened their craft beer brewery the third week in July.
Borchardt and Quinn have a lot in common besides beer. Both men teach at Saratoga Springs High School. Both have been involved in homemade brewing for years. And both share an “incredible attention to detail,” according to Borchardt.
That characteristic was something Borchardt worried would drive his new partner “a little nuts,” he said, until they started working together and found out they were “cut from the same cloth.”
Borchardt worked for 13 years as a chemical engineer specializing in automation and controls. He always knew he would leave the corporate world and embark upon a teaching career. When he got married and began to raise a family, he decided it was a good time to make the transition to education. He currently teaches digital electronics, biotechnology, principles of engineering and woodshop.
In addition to his hobby as a home brewer, Borchardt was also a competitive rower for 20 years. When carpal tunnel syndrome ended that activity, he began to devote his time, energy and chemical engineering background to "digging into the kind of brewing I wanted," he said.
Soon, he had developed his own Belgian-style yeast strain and began working on different recipe formulations.
Quinn's educational background and field of expertise are different. He holds graduate degrees in foreign languages from several different universities. He teaches university-level French to high school students and is also the school's department chairman for world languages.
Quinn also pursued home brewing as a hobby for more than 20 years until, he said, "you reach a certain point where you want to share your product with a larger audience."
The two men became serious about opening an artisanal brewery last year when they found out about a building that had space available. Formerly home to Serrota Bicycle Factory, the building's new owner, Ryen Van Hall, occupies one half of the building, where he is opening Upstate Distilling in the next few weeks. Having a tenant on the other side that was a brewery was a good fit.
Borchardt and Quinn began developing their business plan and getting their financing together in July of 2015 and by October that year they signed a lease with Van Hall. They spent the next seven months, renovating, purchasing and assembling equipment and materials, and developing the brewery. It features a large tasting area with glass windows overlooking the brewing operations below.
They even built their own bar and furniture, getting all of the work done after school and on weekends.
"We're used to working hard. We're teachers, after all," said Quinn.
Artisanal Brew Works offers six different beers, ranging from Belgian pale ales to English browns and IPAs, with clever names like "Belgians on the Beach," "Trappists at the Track" and "Better Late than Never."
Artisanal Brew Works is open seven days a week, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit www.artisanalbrewworks.com.