When it comes to New York beers, Brooklyn and Manhattan often get the spotlight. But those urban areas don't always have spaces large enough for experimentation and expanded beer offerings, not to mention brewery tours and brewpubs. In the Hudson Valley, brewers have have created award winning beers and built idyllic spots to enjoy them in.
The Hudson Valley has a rich history of brewing, and spring is one of the best times to take in the suds. The breathtaking green, lush views of the Valley are best enjoyed with a local cold one found found among the breweries dotting what New York's Senator Charles Schumer calls the "Beer Trail." The area has also been dubbed the "Napa Valley of Beer," as it works to bring back large-scale hop growing to the Valley.
Here are 5 of our favorite spots for sipping and snacking along the Hudson Valley.
It's easy to get to know your fellow drinkers among the communal tables at this cozy brewpub in Kingston. Try their Mother's Milk, a smooth milk stout with creamy hints of oatmeal and chocolate. It's their most popular brew, and the perfect pairing to the kitchen's Mother's Milk Brownies. If Super Kitty is on tap, be sure to grab a pint or a growler of this special beer, an American barleywine with a hint of sweetness thanks to honey harvested from the brewery's roof beehives. The brewery gives tours Friday through Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m., and if the visit inspires you, you can pick up some homebrewing gear across the street at Keegan Homebrew and Mercantile.
Newburgh Brewing Company
Like many towns in the Hudson Valley, Newburgh has gone through an economic downturn as factories closed in the area, but this "tough-minded town" is "still as hardscrabble as it was when General George Washington stationed his army here more than 200 years ago," according to the brewery's website. The brewery is brawny inside and out—it's built in an old factory and has kept much of the industrial accents of the previous tenant.
But the beers here don't pack too much of a punch. Most of the brews are sessionable, with a lower ABV that will let you sample them all. Try the Von Steuben's Gose, a traditional German wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt, with a hint of lactic tartness at the finish. Pair it with the brewery's cream ale-battered onion rings while taking in the Hudson River on view from the large bay windows along the eastern wall. Schedule a tour for Saturdays before 6 p.m.
The Gilded Otter
In this large, airy space you can dine among brew tanks after working up a thirst on the nearby trails of Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. Grab a pint or an eight-glass sampler of head brewer Darren Currier's current offerings. The Huguenot St. American Lager is a light beer perfect for guzzling in the warm months, and the low ABV means you won't stumble out of the brewpub when you're done. The Stone House Irish Stout is its opposite, a rich Russian Stout with hints of roasted coffee, raisins, port wine, and chocolate. (It clocks in at 9% ABV.) The food menu here is as diverse as the brews, so you can savor anything from meatloaf with stout gravy to ceviche. Come on weekend nights for live entertainment.
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
Scott Vaccaro started homebrewing at 17 before he was even legally allowed to drink. His youthful beginnings in brewing might have something to do with the fun fraternity-like vibe that his brewery projects. Enter the large warehouse-looking building and grab sampler tokens ($5 for five) and take a spin on one of the brewery's dozen or so suds on tap.
If you're new to Captain Lawrence, try a best seller like Liquid Gold, an orange-tinged Belgian Pale, or Brown Bird, a smooth malty brew. For something that screams summer, try the Sun Block Witte, a crisp and refreshing witbier. If there are experimental projects on tap, give them a try: some of these brews will never be offered outside the taproom. You also might have the chance to purchase bottles of the brewery's excellent sour beers or their Smoke from the Oak series. Hop on it; these are some of New York's best brews. Pair your beer with a hot dog from Village Dog Local and Artisan Hot Dogs, or a slice from the Friday pizza truck.
444 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, NY 10523 (map) 914-741-2337; captainlawrencebrewing.com
This brewery's new four-story space, and its convenient location just steps from the Metro North Railroad stop make it a must-visit for superior suds this spring. From the names of their brews, you might gather that the husband, wife, and sister-in-law team behind this brewery don't take themselves too seriously. But grab a pint of one of the 13 brews made in house, like super-hoppy but not too bitter AMAZEballs, or Dream of the 90s, a coffee concoction, and you'll be reassured they have a serious side as well. The tap system is fed directly from the tanks; that means these beers are pretty darn fresh.
The views here are not to be missed: the inner workings of the brewery are on display in the taproom and the Hudson River spills out from the windows in the dining room where the open kitchen is also in plain sight. Try the classic PB burger pilled with applewood smoked bacon and cheddar. For a better look at the brewery, including the coolship upstairs, schedule a private tour on the weekends.