Great beer in the Valley - A trip up the Hudson
A short drive north of New York City lies the beginning of the verdant pastures and fertile hollows of the Hudson Valley. Stretching north from New York City, it's an expansive portion of the state itself, running up most of the eastern side parallel to the river that shares its name. Very few regions of the country have inspired as much literature, from tales of headless horseman to the epic journey of Henry Hudson himself. We know it's easy to say, but if you ever get a wild hair and want to take a few days meandering through beautiful eastern mountains, New York's Adirondacks or Catskills won't let you down. In fact, it's probably one of the prettiest places we've been ever been, and that's saying something from a crew who can originally call Vermont home.
And by the way... They make great beer in New York State. Really great beer. The state now reps over 200 breweries, with a new brewery opening its doors ever 5 days or so. Sheer number of breweries aside, It has certainly earned its elevated reputation as a destination for craft beer enthusiasts and locals alike. One of the Hudson Valley's latest arrivals is doing more than its fair share to make sure great beer is synonymous with the cultural footprint of the region. Newburgh Brewing Company, headquartered in a beautifully restored steam engine factory, rests lazily on the banks overlooking the Hudson River. The guys over Newburgh Brewing have taken the long view on building a brewery that makes some seriously good beer. We were more than happy to sit down with Paul Halayko to talk about the story behind Newbrurgh's naissance, their community-based approach, the restoration of their brewery's home, and of course....cream ale.
Address - 88 South Colden Street, Newburgh, NY 12550
Founding date - April 19th, 2012
# of Employees - 11-25
Where can I find their beer? - Hudson Valley, New York City, Long Island, Upstate New York (including the Capital Region), and the 7 Northern New Jersey counties
Tap Room Hours -
Wed 4-9pm (Trivia at 7:30pm)
Fri 4-Midnight (Live Music at 8pm)
Sat 12-Midnight (Live Music at 8:30pm)
The restored mill that the brewery now calls home is quite a site to behold when you drive up to it. Stacked up against the sloping banks of the Hudson, it's an imposing facade with a stunning view overlooking the river. And while the outside is nice, the real work went on inside the building, with a 20-barrel brewhouse sitting on the first floor and their expansive taproom covering the second floor. Beautifully refinished wood picnic tables cover the floor, along with the obligatory cornhole sets that easily fit in the airy, light-filled space.
The idea for starting the brewery came from Chris Basso, one of the co-founders and current brewmaster, who grew up in the area and became fixated on starting a brewery around Newburgh. Chris worked at the Brooklyn Brewery under renowned brewer Garrett Oliver, and was ready to apply his skillset to his own brewery. He asked Paul Halayko to go into business with him and head up all the finance/marketing/branding activities, and they both enlisted the help of Charlie Bennedetti, a retired wall-street veteran, to head up the sales side of the business. Paul, who has been best friends with Chris since they were 12, was quick to mention that he couldn't think of a better three-person team to get a brewery started, and we tend to agree with him.
As our readers know, we love the craft beer business for the liquid and for the story behind the liquid. At first glance, it seems like a strange decision to open a large brewery (a 20-barrel brewhouse might be a lot for a new brewing team to handle) in a small, blue-collar town that's seen its share of better days. I mentioned this to Paul, and the more he spoke about their logic for starting up there, the more it made sense. Strategically located just an hour from New York City, with access to a large urban population, and directly across the river from the Beacon stop on the easily accessible Metro-North line out of the city. Maybe they knew what they were doing after all...
As if we had any doubts, the beer itself allayed our (not) fears. A bevy of lovely, complex offerings were available the day we visited the taproom, and it quickly became clear that Chris had brewed a few beers during his time in Brooklyn. We loved the smoked Gose, with a bacon-y, salty palate that still managed to be refreshing and crisp. Quality beer is paramount to these guys, which is always a sustainable approach in the brewing world.
We referred to something called "Cream Ale" earlier, and it's worth mentioning again. If you've never heard of it before, Cream Ale is a lovable phenomenon local to the residents of certain northeast states and a few other breweries brave enough to make it. Essentially, it's just what it sounds like. A malt-forward and extremely drinkable ale with lager-ish flavor hints and an extremely creamy mouthfeel to match, originally made with a lot of adjuncts to lend it that famously creamy body. Newburgh isn't making their cream ale with adjuncts, but it's a nice ode to the blue-collar beer that's been made in upstate New York for a long time. We can't fault them for staying true to their roots.
The rise of the educated craft consumer has made New York's beer scene a thing of complex and varied beauty. Wonderful local breweries from all over the state are competing with craft brands with national footprints, giving the great beer consumer a lovely choice of regionally-influenced and delicious beers to choose from. Newburgh has set itself up for success in the coming years, with a beautiful brewery making wonderfully unique beers. They hit all the markers of a great community business as well, serving food in their taproom farm-to-table (when that's possible) and donating beer and brewery space to local events and charities.
We're excited to see how things shake out in New York, and of course we always love visiting. Stop into their brewery for some lunch and a couple beers on your way through, and throw in a game of cornhole while you're there. You can also find their beer on tap in a good number of bars and restaurants in New York City too. We'll stop by again to take in the view and crush a cream ale, if there's any left when we get there.
Published July 2015