HEAD TO HEAD
with Sloop Brewing’s Adam Watson
Making the jump from homebrewing hobbyist to the
Hudson Valley’s first “nano-brewery,” Adam (on left) shares
his passion and the inspiration behind Sloop Brewing.
HVW: So, first, what is a nano-brewery, and how did you and your business partner Justin Taylor (right) come up with the idea to start one?
ADAM: A nano-brewery is loosely defined as one that produces less than three barrels of beer per batch. Our business really started organically. We wanted to see what it would take to sell beer at the farmers market in Beacon, near where I live. After looking at the licensing and regulations involved in starting a brewery, we had to take a step back and approach it from another angle. By December 2011, we decided to go ahead and start a nano-brewery with a boot-strap growth philosophy, that is, all the money we make goes back to the business to buy newer, slightly larger, and more advanced equipment. This allows for slow growth but gives us the ability to continue making small-batch, creative beers at a local level. Our first beer was released in Spring 2012.
HVW: What was the inspiration for the brewery’s name?
ADAM: We chose the name Sloop because it has strong ties to the Hudson Valley Region. The early Dutch settlers used sloops to transport goods – as well as people – up and down the Hudson River. We also have a good friend who is a captain for the Sloop Woody Guthrie. (What’s up Shwartz!) We did a fundraiser for them last year, and we donated the beer – we believe in the cause.
HVW: How do you decide on your recipes like Old World Pale Ale, Red C, Black C, and Sauer Peach? Are these based on your personal favorite styles of beer?
ADAM: We did a lot of experimenting when we were homebrewing. We love hops as most beer people do, so the Red and Black C’s are both very hop-forward. We feel a great hop-forward ale is best if not too bitter, so we kept the IBU’s down and filled them with flavor and aroma, while giving them enough malt body. We also love our sours. Jim, Justin’s father who is a phenomenal home brewer, came up with the recipe for Sauer Peach. We will be doing more sours in the near future. The Olde World is being replaced with the Sloop Solstice this year. It’s a wheat beer using a Belgian yeast with some hop flavors and aromas.
HVW: Tell us a bit more about Sauer Peach—what made you want to produce a Berliner Weisse–style ale?
ADAM: Berliner Weisse–style, in my opinion, is not done enough in the U.S. It is a German Sour Wheat ale, with big lactic notes and traditionally served with a sweet syrup to complement the tart flavors from the lactobacillus. In our interpretation, we add peach puree right into the fermenter to get the sweet flavors and peach aromas. We condition the beer in the bottle for a few weeks before selling it to the stores or at the farmers market, but the beer is actually ready to be consumed at right after carbonation.
HVW: Are their any specific challenges or advantages to brewing here?
ADAM: The biggest challenge by far is our space. But the Hudson Valley is a great place because there is so much support. There are so many beer geeks around that want the highest quality, most creative beer possible, and that’s what we want to do. It really is a lot of fun. Plus there are so many great people in the brewing community here, it’s great to be able to be a part of it.
HVW: What’s the future have in store for Sloop Brewing, and where can people find your beer?
ADAM: Time will tell what’s in store for us. This year we’ll be producing a lot of kegs, so that will open up sales at more local restaurants and bars, and you’ll also see us at bottle shops and markets. We are maxed-out in terms of production at our place so any expansion at this point will mean moving to a new location. I would love to have a tasting room in the future. We’ll see!