Halloween at Baggs Square: Ghosts, Beer, & Gourmet Dinner
November 14, 2021
When it comes to planning and hosting unique brewery events, Baggs Square knows what they are doing. They have created some incredible events at the brewery in Utica. This time? A Halloween dinner! Complete with a tour of haunted locations in downtown Utica followed by a 5-course gourmet dinner paired with their house beers. It exceeded every expectation I had for the evening. Now, I’m planning to spend every Halloween at Baggs Square Brewing Company.
Eat, Drink, & Be Scary – Halloween Dinner at Baggs Square
Baggs Square Brewing first started their Halloween dinner in 2020, just 4 months after they opened. I was crushed when I couldn’t attend the first year. But when they invited me to come out for this year’s Halloween dinner, I was so excited! If you know me, you know I love anything haunted or Halloween-themed. Then add in delicious food and beer? Yes, please! How could I miss that?
At $100 per ticket, I was a little hesitant, but then I realized just what the ticket includes. A private tour of haunted places in downtown Utica, several appetizers at the locations, a welcome drink, a five-course gourmet dinner paired with five beers, and live music while you eat! In other words, a fantastic and truly unique night with friends – in costumes.
Haunted Tour of Downtown Utica
When we arrived at the brewery, we were treated to our first pint along with hors d’oeuvres to snack on while we mingled with the other guests. After our drinks, we were told to get on the busses for our tour. That’s right, they rented party busses for the evening! We boarded one of the busses and were treated to some Halloween jams while we made our way to the first stop.
One of the best parts of the night was the playfulness they incorporated into each of the haunted stops. While sharing the history of each building, they also had actors set up to give us some scares to replicate the stories of the spirits.
The first stop? Utica’s famous Stanley Theatre. A beloved landmark of the community, the Stanley was built in 1928 by famous theater architect Thomas Lamb. (The same one who designed the Landmark in Syracuse!) And let me tell you, his work is incredible. In fact, the main staircase at the Stanley is designed after the staircase from The Titanic. They are beautiful!
Locals and visitors alike have shared countless stories of the Stanley and the ghosts that linger there. Guests have reported smelling cigarette smoke in the downstairs sitting area, and hearing unusual sounds throughout the theatre
Fort Schuyler Club
Since Baggs Square owner Jenn and her husband are members of the Fort Schuyler Club, we were treated to a tour of the building. The only members-only private club in Utica, Fort Schuyler Club was originally created in 1883 as a means of social interaction among the wealthy businessmen in the town. It took nearly a hundred years before women were allowed to join the club in 1981. The Fort Schuyler Clubhouse also became the first building in Utica to get electrical wiring.
The building has been added to both the state and national registries of historic places, and many members have reported strange happenings throughout the years. The third floor has sat vacant since the 1970s, when members were able to rent out rooms for the night. But, the staff at Baggs Square had a surprise in store for us – a haunted house through the third floor! Since many of the rooms and fixtures are very outdated, it was not hard to make it look eerie.
During our visit, we sampled Baggs Square’s Hardware IPA and enjoyed some appetizers in the game room. Such a treat to feel like ‘insiders’ for a bit!
Doyle Hardware Building
Our last stop of the evening brought us back to the brewery, but not to the taproom just yet. First, we went around back to take a walk through the basement.
But let’s take a step back and explore the history of the Doyle Hardware Building first. Originally built between 1881 and 1901, the first business to operate there was a clothing factory. Over time that changed to a spark plug manufacturer, and finally Utica Distributing Company/Doyle Hardware. After sitting vacant for years, the historic industrial building is now facing a renaissance. New businesses are moving into the first floor, while the upper three floors have been converted into luxury lofts.
Now back to the basement. As we explored the lowest floor of the building, we noticed the old charm and architecture – brick walls and arched doorways. But you could also understand why people would feel uneasy in the space. Other guests on the tour told us about an old man who appears and disappears regularly in the space, that they had seen for themselves. While I didn’t see him myself, we did get some “spooks” from the actors hiding in the basement.
Dinner at Baggs Square
Back at the brewery, it was finally time for dinner. And while I thought our previous hors d’oeuvres and appetizers were considered to be part of the 5-course dinner, I was pleasantly surprised to discover there were still five courses for us to enjoy!
I’ve always been a fan of Baggs Square’s German-inspired food, but they really outdid themselves for this dinner. And the most surprising part? The chef who created the incredible menu had just started at the brewery a few days prior. He deserves all the credit in the world!
Each course was paired with a sampler of a different house beer, and was inspired by Jenn’s life. The main course was a dish she fell in love with in Germany, and the dessert was a tribute to her grandmother and their family’s heritage. While we ate, we were able to enjoy live music from ZZ. Check out these courses:
Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon, topped with a fried quail egg
German potato soup
Steak roulade with pickles and bacon served over arugula and topped with a dill sauce
Dusseldorf pork hock braised with carrots
Swedish apple pie
Every single bite was phenomenal, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s dinner. Will you be there?