Brewery Visit: Hudson Valley Brewery
A hidden little gem of a brewery is making a name for themselves tucked away in the burgeoning town of Beacon, New York. Word is quickly spreading amongst craft beer enthusiasts about Hudson Valley Brewery who opened its doors along Church Hill St. in late 2016. Co-owners John-Anthony Gargiulo, Michael Renganeschi and Jason Synan are creating the most elegant, approachable, complex beers you might ever taste. We recently stopped by to taste for ourselves during our Hudson Valley, New York beercation.
Michael and Jason aren’t just co-owners, they’re also the liquid artists (aka The Brewers). Their beer style line up consisting of re-imagined sour farmhouse ales, double dry hopped IPAs and Saisons showcases their creativity and experimental, forward-thinking approach to beer crafting.
“Hill Farmstead who?” After every sip of Echo Sender farmhouse ale, that question welled up in my mind. Derek and I also made many audible “Mmmms!” and verbal outbursts of “so damn good!” And, it wasn’t just us re-acting this way. A group of folks beside us was having the same experience with this pink-hued lovely.
The fruit salad nose drew me in. Then the first sip. The complexity of the flavor experience was intriguing. First strawberry and grass, then papaya, proceeded by lemon, hibiscus and bread. All the while tasting the undertones of oak and funkiness. Smooth and approachable. Not at all tongue-zapping-tart like some sour beers. Echo Sender was our standout favorite of the day. An easy 5.0 rating in Untappd from us.
We worked through the taplist trying Memory Level Sour Farmhouse IPA, Valley Beer Saison and Extra Solar IPA. All very nice. The theme of approachable, smooth and complex applied. Think NE-style IPAs and dare we say NE-style Sours. But there was still something very different about these sour beers that we couldn’t put our finger on. We kept trying to deconstruct the flavor elements down to ingredients and potential brewing processes each beer we tasted. How were they able to achieve these flavors all in perfect balance?
All Those Barrels
The answer was right in front of us the whole time. The Barrels. The beautifully displayed 150+ barrels.
You see, Michael and Jason, are very much blenders as they are brewers. Not just blending variations of the same beer. But blending completely different beers aged in barrels, foeders or puncheons to achieve one end product. Some are conditioned on local fruits, flowers, herb and/or spices. While a few of the aged beers are blended with IPAs and then dry hopped. There are no rules. There are no limitations. Experimentation is king. Just how we like it.
It takes tons of skill and an especially spot on palette to do blending well. Not to mention the months of waiting involved with this tedious process. Beers are aged for months and potentially years until the desired flavor profile is reached – carefully being sampled and tested all the while before being blended.
Another interesting aspect to the unique beers being produced at Hudson Valley Brewery is their custom house bacteria and yeast culture that is used. The brewing team actually went out into the wild to collect various bacteria cultures throughout the Hudson Valley region of New York. Nice! We have to stop right here and say, we like the way New York tastes.
What’s On Tap?
The taplist changes regularly. Here’s what was available the day of our visit so you can get a feel for the variety being served up.
PRO-TIP: Be sure to sign up for the Hudson Valley Brewery enewsletter. That’s how you can get a head’s up on what’s being offered each week. Taplist announcements can also be found on their socials (aka ‘social media space’) as well as BeerMenus.com.EMAIL UPDATES FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM
PRO-TIP: Leave your growlers at home. You won’t need them. Only crowler cans are filled up for take-home beer.
We took home 2 crowlers of Echo Sender to share with beer friends back home in Pennsylvania as well as a 4 pack of Planetfall double dry hopped IPA 16 oz cans. We planned our visit to coincide with this IPA can release.
Although Planetfall wasn’t on the taplist the day we visited to ‘try before we buy,’ we just knew we couldn’t go wrong snatching up this beer sight unseen. Lucky for us there were 2 – 4 packs left when we arrived around 2:30pm. We were running late to the can release after having another mind-blowing beer drinking experience at Equilibrium Brewery earlier in the day that we just didn’t want to end.
The Taproom Experience
The building itself is two connected structures. The oldest portion is a 2-story red brick building dating back to the 1820s. The white-painted, cinder block, 1-story building was added in the 1960s. It’s in this newer space that the brewery and 60 seat taproom are located. Countless days were spent clearing the property, adding a parking lot and renovating the run-down buildings.
It’s a little bit rustic. A little bit manufacturing-industrial. And a big pinch of social interaction. You literally can’t help but to move around and converse with other beer enthusiasts. One of our favorite parts to visiting a brewery!
PRO-TIP: To order beers, make your way up to the bar counter. There are no formal lines. It’s really every #BeerGirl or Guy for themselves like a traditional bar. You might want to bring up the taplist on Beermenus.com while you’re waiting your turn prior to making it to the front of the crowd. Don’t make those busy bartenders wait for you to make a decision. They have gobs of beer to pour.
PRO-TIP: The Hudson Valley Brewery taproom is open this summer Thursday & Friday 5pm-10pm and Saturday & Sunday 2pm-10pm. Can releases are generally on Saturdays starting at noon. So watch that 2 hour overlap between the release and the taproom opening. There’s tons to explore in the shop-filled, streets of Beacon. You can easily fill that overlay time no problem in this quaint little town.
PRO-TIP: If the taproom is packed like it was on the day we stopped by, we recommend putting your crowler fill orders in 15 minutes or more before you are ready to leave. There generally is a wait for your order to be completed.
Are There Eats?
Yep. Stock Up provides a pop-up kitchen for Hudson Valley Brewery taproom visitors. Food can be ordered Friday 5pm-8pm as well as Saturday & Sunday 2pm-8pm. What is Stock Up? Answer in their own words: “a team of artists, chefs, farmers, butchers, and beer & coffee freaks. We are a passionate bunch who aim to provide the community with quality product and service. We recognize the importance of supporting local farmers and business owners for the sake of the Hudson Valley economy.”
PRO-TIP: Stock Up’s main location is on Teller Avenue in Beacon, NY. They have quite the well-curated taplist and bottle selection. You’re going to want to check it out while visiting the town. p/s – They do fill growlers.BEERMENU.COM
Remember us mentioning the older brick building attached to the brewery space? That’s going to be the future home of the brewery’s wood-fired pizza restaurant and bar slated to open in 2018. We’ll have to make a return visit when that’s in full swing.
Is The Brewery Dog-Friendly?
You may have noticed in several of our photos, there’s a dog. Dogs were everywhere throughout the taproom and well behaved at that. While Hudson Valley Brewery IS dog-friendly, your pup must be on a leash at all times. So bring in your furry canines while you enjoy that brew.
The simplicity of the Hudson Valley Brewery artwork is stunning. You know how much we love good brewery and beer-related artwork! We were especially drawn to the brewery’s minimal logo designed by Casie Peckio that mimics the Hudson River Valley. See it? Sun. Mountains. Flowing River.
The Hudson Valley Brewery beer label artwork itself on the other hand delves into complex, intricate illustrations. Evan Cohen is an artist and printmaker based in Beacon, New York that creates these pieces for the brewery. He uses simple shapes repeated over and over in an almost puzzle-like arrangement.
Evan even produces fun little animations of the beer label artwork for Hudson Valley Brewery beers. You can see them all on the brewery’s website and instagram page. LOVE!
More New York/Hudson Valley Beercation Info: