Since the passage of New York’s Farm Brewing law in 2012, the state’s beautiful Hudson Valley is in the throes of a beer renaissance. Acclaimed breweries like Newburgh Brewing Company, Peekskill Brewery, and the Brewery at Bacchus are not only making a name for themselves, but staking a claim for the region as a beer drinker’s destination. Some astute brewers, however, are taking farm brewing literally and are growing their own ingredients on bucolic farmland to be turned into fresh-as-it-gets beer in renovated barns and tasting rooms. Here’s four of our favorite New York farm breweries (and one from Connecticut) where you can taste the terroir of the region.
Sloop Brewing Company
1065 Co Rte 19, Elizaville, NY
Cofounders Adam Watson and Justin Taylor started out small, originally operating out of their garage in Beacon, NY. As their operation grew, they partnered with Vosburgh Orchards in the rolling hills of Elizaville. After renovating a nineteenth-century barn into a rustic tasting room, Sloop is becoming renowned for brewing fresh sour beers from fields you can see from your barstool. “We always loved sour beers even before we started the brewery,” Watson says, “and we knew that was a style we were going to focus on.” As operations expand, Sloop’s beers are getting easier to find throughout the Hudson Valley and beyond.
The One to Try: Sauer Peach
True to its namesake, Sauer Peach is a berlinerweisse brewed with real peaches and finished with Sloop’s sour lactic culture for a crisp, tart finish. The sourness plays perfectly off the sweetness of the peaches and the wheat for an easy drinking, flavorful beer. While it may be perfect for a lazy summer’s day, it drinks great all year round. It’s like sunshine in a glass.
Plan Bee Farm Brewery
115 Underhill Road, Poughkeepsie, NY
Plan Bee Farm Brewery was the answer to a simple question for husband-and-wife Evan and Emily Watson: “What if we were able to use sustainable ingredients for an estate-grown beer?” With the passage of the Farm Brewing Law, opening a brewery on their 25-acre farm outside of Poughkeepsie was a no-brainer. With the addition of pears, cherries, peppers, and strawberries to the existing apple orchards, they hope to grow all of their own ingredients except grain, which they source from local malt houses. While some might see the exclusive use of local ingredients as a limitation, Emily and Evan view it as an opportunity. “I think that through limitations we’ve been able to define Plan Bee,” Emily says. “For us we find it’s an advantage,” and helps them make beer that reflects “whatever your environment tastes like.”
The One to Try: Tree Beer
Tree Beer earned its moniker through the use of three types of trees during the brewing process. It’s mashed over spruce, brewed with local maple syrup, and finished in oak barrels for something quite unlike anything you’ve had before. It pours a hazy amber color, and balances notes of maple, vanilla, citrus, and plenty of funk that finishes tart and slightly sour. Like many of their beers, Tree Beer has an ardent following and can be hard to find, so snap it up when you can.
Arrowood Farms Brewery
236 Lower Whitfield, Accord, NY
“When New York State passed the farm brewing legislation we just took it pretty literally,” says Blake Arrowood, head-farmer and owner of Arrowood Farms in Accord, NY. He and his business partner, head brewer Jacob Meglio, set out in 2016 to “brew beers that capture the flavor of this region.” Visitors can sip on fresh brews from the taproom overlooking the 48-acre farm, complete with sheep, ducks and pigs and an acre of on-site hop production. While New York State-sourced ingredients comprise the majority of their beers, Arrowood is taking it a step further, and began cultivating 10 acres of rye on the property.
The One to Try: Arrowood IPA
Arrowood’s simply-named IPA is an approachable, but deeply flavorful example of the classic style. Farm-grown cascade hops offer a satisfying hop flavor, but without the bitterness present in a West Coast-style IPA. “Our cascade here is a little more piney and a little less citrusy,” Meglio says.
Kent Falls Brewing Company
33 Camps Rd, Kent CT 06757
“I love where we are and what we’re doing,” says Barry Labendz, cofounder of Kent Falls Brewing Company. In the making since 2012, the brewery opened its doors to the public in February 2015 in Kent Falls, CT, just a few miles from the New York border on a pasture-raised poultry farm that now boasts an acre of hop production. “It’s really exciting to see what hops grown in other parts of the world taste like when they’re grown in Connecticut,” says Labendz, who also places a huge emphasis on supporting farmers in the surrounding area. When you have a direct relationship with farmers, you can gain more control over your ingredients, and “make beer that’s individual to you or your surroundings,” he explains. Labendz ultimately wants to “support local producers and have them be supported by the connection with the brewery,” for beer with “a sense of place.”
The One to Try: Tiny House
Every year, Kent Falls Brewing invites friends and family to come help harvest hops from their 1-acre plot, which are added straight into the tank to make Tiny House, a sessionable sour with an earthy, citrus funk. Labendz says “it’s nice to have this flavorful beer that won’t put you under. It transports you to the day it was harvested.”