Craft beers have been capturing the imaginations and the palates of Americans for centuries. Since the Dutch and British first set foot on the shores on the island of New York, so began the State’s great history of beer making. Following in their footsteps came the Germans, and sometime along the way the Hudson Valley grew to become one of the foremost regions to sample craft brews made in the tradition of these early European settlers.
Today there are beverage trails throughout New York State that boast great breweries and craft beers made in different styles and varieties – enough to satisfy the quench of almost any beer aficionado.
Popping up in almost every county in the Hudson Valley, you’ll find craft breweries (technically those producing up to 6 million barrels a year), including microbreweries (those brewing less than 15,000 barrels a year), and brew pubs – venues that brew beer and have a bona fide restaurant to boot. One thing they all have in common is honoring the history and tradition of the region, with many revitalizing and retro-fitting landmark buildings with modern equipment to craft classic and contemporary brews.
As with wine, the Hudson Valley provides not only the historical settings, but great natural resources for making beer. One of the world’s oldest beverages – possibly dating back to as early as 5,000 B.C.E. – beer is comprised mostly of water, and picks up its regional character by the mineral components found in it. So, different areas of the region are best suited to making certain types of beer, be it an ale, stout, lager, IPA, or porter.
The hops used in making beer are either grown locally or imported, but most importantly it is the brewmaster who carefully crafts each of the components and provides a unique recipe to create his or her own distinctive beer flavors. You’re sure to find a beer that not only reflects the philosophy of the brewmaster, but one that suits your palate as well.
Craft beer culture is burgeoning here in the Hudson Valley, just waiting to be, well, tapped. Stop at a brewery or brew pub as you make your way along the Shawangunk Wine Trail or the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail, or plan to hit one of the many beer fests this year where you’ll find local producers offering tastes of their latest brews. Just be sure to grab a designated driver and better yet, make a weekend out of it. You’ll be surprised at all you’ll find brewing in the Hudson Valley.