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When Prison City Pub & Brewery hits the road for regional brewing events, the most common question it's asked isn't about the availability of its beer, or about how brewer Ben Maeso made a brown ale that tastes like Cocoa Puffs.

It's about the Auburn brewpub's name.

"'Prison City? Oh my god, I love that name!'" said owner Dawn Schulz, mimicking a typical reaction. "'Why do you get called that?'"

One person at one of those events was Justin Maine of Albany-based MagicWig Productions. Compelled by the name, which refers to the correctional facility visible from the brewpub's State Street Mall seating area, Maine and MagicWig selected Prison City to be featured in a series it's shooting for PBS: "Brewed in New York." 

Coming this fall, the 13-episode series will tell the stories of a few breweries in each of the state's 11 tourism regions, Maine said. One region — to be determined — will be the subject of two episodes, and the finale will be a best-of episode.

"It's a tourism show, to tour throughout the state and see what's out there," said Maine, who added that future seasons of the show, if ordered, could return to New York or focus on other states.

Alternating hosts Matt Archambault and Maya Contreras — a "super beer freak" and a novice, respectively — help the series balance the basics of brewing with the "inside baseball" of it, Maine said. The industry's economic importance to New York state, which went from 95 breweries in 2012 to 240 in 2015, is another theme.

But "Brewed in New York" is also about telling the breweries' stories. At two or three an episode, about 35 New York breweries will have theirs told, Maine said. Prison City wasn't just selected to be one of them because of its name, he said — it's also one of the few of those 240 breweries that's owned by a woman.

Schulz, who opened Prison City in December 2014, was quick to credit Maeso's beers as another reason for the brewpub's national television debut. She said the opportunity is just one reason why Prison City tries to pour his award-winning beers and promote itself wherever it can, and will continue doing so at the BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational and Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America, both in Boston in June.

"It's nice to get feedback from outside the community about the quality of the beer," she said. "It's nice to get other people's perspective when we're going up against the big guys."

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.


Features editor for The Citizen.