By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — MIDDLEFIELD — The business of brewing beer continued Friday morning as officials announced annual awards of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.
Simon Thorpe, president and chief executive officer of Brewery Ommegang, said he and the staff go about with a focus to meet day-to-day challenges of ale production and sales, so to be recognized at the community level with the Chamber’s NBT Bank Distinguished Business of the Year Award is a major event.
“We’re truly honored and touched by this award,” Thorpe said at a media conference at the plant near Cooperstown. “It was a surprise.”
The award will be presented at the 28th annual NBT Distinguished Dinner and Celebration of Business in the Hunt Union Ballroom at SUNY Oneonta on March 28.
Also during the event, lawyer John Scarzafava of Scarzafava & Basdekis Law Firm in Oneonta will be recognized with the Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award. Scarzafava wasn’t available to attend Friday’s announcement, but partner Theodore Basdekis made an appearance and said his colleague appreciated the recognition and looked forward to the March celebration.
The Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award, established in 2002, recognizes Otsego County residents who have made a long-term impact on the region and supported the community through their businesses.
The business award, sponsored by NBT Bank, recognizes a business that has made a sustained and substantial impact in the community.
Barbara Ann Heegan, president and chief executive officer of the Otsego County Chamber, applauded the achievements and contributions of the recipients during Friday’s introductions in the Brewery Ommegang restaurant.
Brewery Ommegang dates to 1997 and was founded on the site of a former hop farm.
Thorpe, who joined the local operation in 2009 when the brewery had 37 employees, said the brewery started with about eight employees, Now, he said, the brewery has 108 employees, including staff in the brewery, the on-site restaurant and the sales department.
Last year, the brewery planted hops vines in initial steps in a project to re-establish local production and harvests, Thorpe said, and the effort is in cooperation with Cornell University. Meanwhile, new ales are being developed, he said.
Beer production in 2009 was about 30,000 barrels, Thorpe said.
Allison Capozza, publicity manager, said the brewery estimates production this year at 50,000 barrels, which equals about 16.5 million 12-ounce bottles of beer.
Brewery Ommegang is sold in 44 states, with the biggest markets in California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and New York, Thorpe said, and some marketing is conducted in Europe through its parent company, Duvel Moortgat.
Patricia Szarpa, executive director of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, said during Friday’s gathering that Brewery Ommegang doesn’t hesitate to step up to the plate to support the community. The company has “amazing employees,” she said, and an “amazing story.”