Completed in 1874, the wide two-story brick building that now houses Albany Pump Station was erected as the Quackenbush Pumping Station of the Albany Water Works, built to pump municipal water from the nearby Hudson River. That operation lasted for just over 60 years, until a reservoir was constructed, obviating the need for the pump station. It remained in city hands for decades, used as storage space and subjected to structural neglect, until Neil Evans purchased it in 1999, intent on resurrecting his family-run brewery that had operated downriver from 1786 to Prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s.
Evans renovated the 8,000 square feet, retaining the industrial ambiance for the location of his restaurant and C.H. Evans Brewing Company — a thoughtfully executed undertaking that earned an award for Project Excellence from the Preservation League of New York and the appreciation of its patrons, including me.
When I arrived in time for dinner, I looked up at the slate-shingle hipped roof and the gently arched windows, some of which have been bricked in on both floors and all of them trimmed with brick lintels and stone keystones and sills. Passing inside, I was quickly seated in the dining area after taking note of the shiny stainless-steel beer tanks above me on the second story. My table had a wonderful view of the huge fireplace and chimney, the exposed brick walls, industrial light fixtures, the roof trusses 40 feet above me, and, most impressively, the two 20-ton sliding cranes originally completed in 1906 and 1909 and used to repair the pump engines — and most recently tapped to install the fermentation and servings tanks of the brewery. I hadn’t eaten anything yet, but I was liking this place already.
Try This: Start with a surprisingly tart glass of German-style Miami Weisse and enjoy this mix of pale wheat, pilsner malt, and Kaffir lime leaves as you soak in the history around you and the archival photos of the old pumping station. Then order a massive appetizer of panko breadcrumb–encrusted eggplant with tomato ragu, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction, or the selection of four tasty deviled eggs: traditional, curry chicken, lobster salad, and southwestern guacamole. Next up is an equally massive entrée: pulled pork barbecued with the house’s award-winning Kick Ass Brown ale and served with smoked cheddar cheese, banana peppers over scalloped potatoes, and chipotle ranch dressing. If you have room for dessert (which is unlikely), go for the Nutella espresso mousse or the chocolate stout cake with Bailey’s cream-cheese frosting.