In early 2005 Dave Gardell bought The Ruck from his former boss and started his new life as a bar/restaurant owner. Little did he know that fifteen years later he would be one of the main men leading the charge as a craft beer pioneer in Troy, N.Y. Gardell grew up in Brooklyn before moving to Troy to attend R.P.I., and his craft beer revelation came shortly after his purchase of the bar as his beer distributors started introducing him to new stuff. He mentions Harpoon beers, as well as Lake Placid's UBU Ale being the first craft beers he enjoyed and decided to put them on tap. His bar quickly became the second biggest seller of Harpoon in Upstate New York, and Dave's journey began.
One of the first things that I noticed when speaking with Dave was the "family" like atmosphere at The Ruck. The Ruck's employees are littered with family concections. Dave counts at least seven sets of siblings who have worked for him over the years. Even the bar's name pays tribute to this atmosphere. "The Ruck" is a part of rugby, with Dave describing it as "a selfless act, giving yourself up for the greater good of the team".
As for the beer, Dave envisions The Ruck as the premier craft beer bar in Troy. His beer list is impressive and almost all of his beer is served from tap lines. As the restaurant grows, a bottle list will follow that will include rare and limited beers as well as verticals of different vintages.
The Ruck currently has 20 active tap lines but will be adding 8 more shortly thanks to the arrival of a German Beer tower. The bar has a 200 square foot keg room which allows Gardell to not only properly store the kegs for his active lines, but also age vintage kegs to release later on.
As successful as The Ruck is now, I personally think it will be one of the better beer bars in the entire state within the next few years. The second and third floors are currently being renovated with plans to add a different environment to the bar. One of the possibilities is a cask beer bar on the second floor, serving about 4-5 different cask beers. Dave has several ideas for the third floor, one of which would include a 10 seat table that could serve as either a private table, or the setting for future beer dinners.
I couldn't help but feeling really impressed as I walked out of The Ruck's doors. Dave has created a great beer drinking environment at the Ruck. While he aspires to be have one of the better craft beer bars in the area, he will always continue to have some of the American standbys such as Bud Light. While some may scoff at this idea, Dave insists he wants to have the right beer for everyone, stating: "I want to have different styles, different price points, something for everyone".