Brewers, Tuns & Money: An Afternoon At Hudson Ale Works

April 2, 2017

If we closely examine our daily activities, we sometimes (or maybe often) find that a negative circumstance is the gateway to something positive. And such was the case on Sunday, April 2nd as I sought out a visit to a craft establishment in the New Paltz area after participating in a 14-mile group run in Mohonk Preserve.

Sweaty, tired, and already feeling a bit sore after romping around for 3+ hours in “one of Earth’s last great places”, I needed a fresh glass of craft beer in the worst possible way. So as I pulled out of the Spring Farm trail head parking lot at about 2:00pm, I set my GPS for the address of Yard Owl Brewery in Gardiner. About 20 minutes away, my device told me. I could certainly be patient for that long.

But patience turned to disappointment as I arrived at Yard Owl’s small, industrial location on a remote back street of Gardiner. It was 2:23pm, and the sign on the door iIMG_1965ndicated that they were open from 3:00pm – 7:00pm.  Not wanting to wait around for nearly 40 minutes, I decided to do something active rather than passive, and I pursued ‘plan B’. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Fourteen miles and 25 minutes later, I found myself arriving at my destination, Hudson Ale Works in Highland, NY. In all of my bull sessions with fellow Hudson Valley beer lovers, this brewery had never come up in conversation, so maybe I would be the one to experience it first, I thought to myself, and then report back to friends. In any case, unlike my previous stop, Hudson Ale Works was open for business, and I was glad to finally be close to that first heavenly taste of malt and hops.

The building itself has a fairly crisp look from the outside, and to my delight, the inside was equal in presentation to the exterior, with caged lanterns hanging above a sleek stone-topped bar, and multicolored wood panels providing an eye pleasing backdrop.

Being that this was a Sunday afternoon, the placeIMG_1968 wasn’t too crowded, and I was able to get seated and review the tap list right away.  What I found was a great variety in their tap offerings, and wanting to try them all and still be able to safely drive home, I started with a flight (which at $8 for four 6 oz glasses is a total bargain).  Although customers can choose any four beers, I went with the first four on their list.  My comments about these are as follows:

Coconut Vanilla Stout
Super smooth and very easy to drink, the low hop rate allows the creamy flavor to remain at the forefront. Coconut flavor is evident, but does not overpower.  5.5% ABV

Gose, the Imposa
A great sour, whose name is possibly inspired by the historical Romanian figure Vlad the Impaler. This is a serious sour that leaves its mark. And at 4.2% ABV, on a warm summer day this one could keep your palate satisfied for hours on end.

Monkhe See, Monkhe Do
With a deep amber color and very strong malt profile, this Belgian dubbel (thus the word ‘monk’ in its name) could just as easily pass for a Strong Ale.  8% ABV

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The Huell hops in this aptly named session IPA immediately impart a notable flavor that lasts on the tongue from start to finish. Coming in at 4.5%, this great beer has a full bitterness profile that is appropriate for the style. Perfect for the everyday IPA lover.

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As I worked my way through the flight, I engaged with my server, who I immediately learned was Adam Trapani, one of the three principals at Hudson Ale Works. Adam explained to me that although the brewhouse itself has been in operation since 2013 (with setup costs of likely over $1 million), it was only after a long and expensive renovation that they opened their taproom space in August of 2016.  He went on to explain that in addition to their spacious taproom

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Neil Trapani in their brew house

(which is actually two rooms), they will be building a 600 square foot patio in the front that he said he hopes to have complete in time for summer.

The interesting thing about Hudson Ale Works is the owner/labor structure. Along with Josh Zimmerman and Neil Trapani (presumably Adam’s brother, although I admittedly didn’t ask), Adam and his partners all identify themselves as both “owner” and “brewer” in addition to the many other hats that they must certainly wear.

After declaring my identity (a beer snob should never hide behind his beer glass, after all), I was given a friendly peek at the brew house, where I was shown the small but active 3 bbl system they use to push out product not only to their tap room, but to their dozens of retail accounts, which are all delivered to by way of a two-tone grey Honda Element (seen in the picture above).

I concluded my session (and visit) with a glass of the brewery’s Maple Strong Ale offering, which they call Supdafied.  At 9% ABV and full of body and flavor, it didn’t disappoint, and is one that I hope will find its way into a can at some point so I can enjoy it at home as well.

All in all, Hudson Ale Works is a great brewery, and I am very confident they will have a bright future here in the Hudson Valley. Pay them a visit when you get a chance.

Hudson Ale Works
17 Milton Ave
Highland, NY

Website:  http://www.hudsonaleworks.com/
IG:  hudsonaleworks

And for those who caught the Warren Zevon reference in the title of this post, bravo to you!

“Veni. Vidi. Bibi.”

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Josh Zimmerman enjoying time with Hudson Ale Works patrons

The Little Craft Pub That Could

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March 30, 2017

As vital as we know the various breweries and brewpubs are to the burgeoning Hudson Valley beer scene, the one immutable fact is – they can’t do it all by thIMG_1931emselves.  These great brewers need other voices out there, other channels for showcasing the great products they’re putting in front of discerning craft beer drinkers across the region.

Craft pubs are that secondary channel. And although these specialty business establishments have been around for longer than the local beer scene itself, they now have an all-new raison de etre; to be a main outlet for the numerous Hudson Valley brewers who are doing all of these fantastic things with malt and hops.

Due to their specialty niche and the corresponding crowd that goes with it (let’s face it, most beer drinkers still favor “Big Beer”), craft pubs tend to be small, and tucked into out-of-the-way nooks and crannies of the business neighborhoods they inhabit.  One such establishment opened a mere seven months ago in Sloatsburg, NY, but has very quickly solidified itself as perhaps the go-to craft pub in the lower Hudson Valley.

Seven Lakes Station thrust open its front door to customers for the first time on September 17, 2016, and has been gaining public favor and creating a certain “legend” for itself ever since.  Go in, grab yourself one of the 7 or 8 stools along their sleek bar, have a conversation with co-owner Martijn Mollet (first name pronounced Mar-TAYN),

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SLS bedecked for Christmas

and you’ll be regaled with a plethora of knowledge about beer brands and styles as never before.

Although small, as many craft pubs are, the notion of Seven Lakes Station’s space being cramped or limited disappears into the bar-side conversation that seems to take place almost organically between owners, staff, and customers.  Hang out there for just a short while, and before you know it, you know everybody’s name at the bar, where they live, and what their favorite beer style is.

In fact, the culture of Seven Lakes Station is so mellow and so inclusive that you shouldn’t be surprised if a regular walks in while you’re there, pops open a can or two of a latest specialty offering, and shares samples with you and everyone else at the bar.  This is the beauty that Martijn and his partner Jamie Lovelace have quickly and effortlessly built along Sloatsburg’s main business thoroughfare.

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The tap list, which constantly rotates.

The pub’s 14-beer rotation of tap offerings are divided into two main categories – a collection of local craft beers, and a set of specialty brews, the latter of which most often features 2 or 3 Belgian beers, as perhaps a tribute to Martijn’s place of birth. All the beer on their board is available for growler fills, but besides just that, a walk down the hall toward the rest room reveals several coolers with a vast collection of specialty cans and bottles, all available for takeout as one-offs, or as a build-your-own six pack.

14354876_1075995319144277_253467033282903535_nOn Friday and Saturday evenings, you’ll often be treated to live music from local musicians as you quaff your beer, with musical styles that run the gamut from blues to folk to reggae.  And in addition to the beer and music, if you’re feeling a little peckish, they’ve got a small but tasty collection of foodstuffs available (including pretzels, cheese and charcuterie) that will really hit the spot and set up the palate nicely for your next pour.

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Martijn & Jamie serve a great selection of craft beers

Always smiling and positive, Martijn and Jamie create a special and memorable experience for customers, taking the time to get to know you, and fostering a sense of family among the regulars and non-regulars alike. It’s not hard to see that SLS will be around for a long time to come, doing its part in promoting all the amazing things that are going on out there in craft beer land.

Drop in on them the next time you get a chance. And if you haven’t been there before, tell them the Beer Snob sent you.

Seven Lakes Station
80 Orange Turnpike
Sloatsburg, NY
IG: sevenlakesny
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/sevenlakesny

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The Beer Snob, celebrating Christmas “La Chouffe-style” with SLS patrons.

“Veni. Vidi. Bibi.”