With its rich history of agriculture, the Hudson Valley is celebrated as one of the best places to eat, and drink, fresh from the farm. For decades, visitors have been pouring into Orange County, in the heart of the Valley just 60 minutes from Manhattan, to enjoy its outdoors, arts and culture, history and farm-to-table fare, but in recent years the drinks scene has increasingly become the draw.
Locally-grown and primarily family-owned, Orange County’s beverage makers offer spirits, wine, beer and cider lovers a farm-fresh taste of its distinct terroir. Orange County Tourism has set out to introduce more people to the beauty and bounty of its craft beverage scene. In partnership with 24 distilleries, wineries, breweries and cideries, they have created a Trail Pass that will make it easier to navigate around the county and allow you to earn points for prizes, such as Yeti tumblers and logo caps, by visiting the tasting rooms on the Pass.
How To Get the Trail Pass
The process of signing up is simple. It doesn’t require an app or more than one click—and less than a minute of typing.
Start here. You’ll land on the “Get Your Craft Beverage Trail Passport” page. Simply fill in your contact info, opt in or out of receiving news about your Pass and occasional communications from Orange County Tourism, and you’re done. Your free Trail Pass will be ready for use immediately, delivered to your phone via email and text. Opening hours, contact information and Google maps for all 24 producers can be accessed on the Pass.
When you’re out on the trail and arrive at a participating location (check the Pass for any available coupons to redeem), check in via GPS to have your visit count towards your prize. Just make sure your phone location services are turned on. Pass holders keep in mind: your ability to score points and take advantage of coupons top out at five destinations per day.
Ready to reap your rewards? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
If you love both country and city vibes, embrace the dichotomy at these urban-farm breweries and cideries, each with their own distinct culture and ambience.
Newburgh Brewing Company is the O.C.’s first brewery to open, with a vast communal tasting hall inside, live music on the weekends, great scratch-cooked comfort food and games galore.
Equilibrium Brewery makes beer by, and for, beer geeks, with a brewing system developed by M.I.T. scientific principles that focus on the optimal balance between drinkability and flavor. The Middletown location includes a taproom, beer garden, BBQ food, and retail space.
The family-owned and operated Rushing Duck Brewing Co. is perched in the historic district of Chester, and offers something for everyone—from Belgian, to barrel-aged, to sours. There is a space both inside and out for long tasting sessions, and food trucks sling beer-friendly fare on the weekends.
Westtown Brew Works serves up great beer sourced from their hop farm and neighboring farms, wood-fired pizzas, and a rotating roster of live music on the weekends.
Billed as a maker of cider for wine drinkers with “small lots of pure, brisk, refreshing ciders and excellent pommeau” by The New York Times, Orchard Hill Cider Mill is focused on what it does best: offering tastes of their seasonal ciders, Ten66 Pommeau, locally produced cocktails, wine and beer on their historic orchard.
Adventure + History
Up for an adventure with a side of education? These spots serve delicious experiences in the glass and beyond.
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery has blazed many trails. The farm winery and distillery has one of the most diverse pick-your-own orchards on the East Coast, with 65 heirloom and modern apple varieties; they are also the oldest cidery in New York State and the first fruit distillery in New York since Prohibition. There’s a range of farm-fresh cider, wines and spirits to choose from, alongside locally-sourced home-cooked fare at the in-house café.
Get schooled in American wine history at Brotherhood Winery, America’s oldest winery. Take a deep dive on a tour of the hand-excavated, 19th-century cellars, then choose from a slew of wine styles in the tasting room.
Tap into your inner historian and sample 1840s-style Applejack in the cozy red barn at Apple Dave’s Distillery. There are also locally produced beers and ciders on tap, plus local wine and cocktails.
Foreign Objects serves up a global beer journey. They are intent on creating aromatic New American hoppy ales, layered and complex Franco-Belgian farmhouse beers, and thirst-quenching, German-style ungespundet lagers.
Angry Orchard offers year-round adventures in and out of its 60-acre orchard, from tasting and treehouse experiences to educational barrel room tours, and more. Check their calendar for game nights and special events.
Sometimes, you just want a pint and a bite or a refreshing cocktail that delivers a world of flavor.
The Spirits Lab Distilling Company is unabashedly dedicated to creating “superlative, small-batch spirits” from local ingredients in their waterfront location in Newburgh. Spirits Lab also serves up bottled cocktails made fresh weekly.
If you’re looking for a farm brewery that sources as many ingredients as they can from New York farmers, head over to Long Lot Farm Brewery and experience their signature spicy stout, saisons and IPAs. While you’re there, you can pick up meat and produce from their fifth-generation farm and neighbors.
Fox N Hare Brewery & Pub is dedicated to traditional craft beers and exotic pub food. Think American Primitive Pils and stuffed grape leaves.
Clemson Brewing is just as obsessed with locally sourced food as it is with its imaginative premium beer (coconut cream ales, sour ales with strawberries and oranges). The grass-fed burgers are legendary, and the starters are a necessity (try short rib tacos and truffle fries for the win).
Glenmere Brewing Company is a microbrewery dedicated to crafting tasty beers from simple ingredients. Enjoy with a side of popcorn and pretzels.
It’s hard to imagine not having a good time at any of the beverage emporiums on the Trail Pass. But if you need an extra layer of insurance, give these a swirl.
The 30,000 square-foot Aspire Brewing in Middletown serves up 30 craft taps and has a full kitchen with elevated pub menu fare, along with axe throwing, indoor cornhole, and state-of-the-art golf simulators.
Apex Brewery wants everyone to have a good time. That commitment to joy begins with the roller derby theme throughout their industrial space in Monroe, and continues with its busy schedule of events, from music bingo to trivia, to the dog-friendly yappy hour.
City Winery Hudson Valley has something for everyone on its 22-acre campus. There’s the winery and tasting room in the converted historic mill, a restaurant with a full bar list, alongside an exciting array of live shows and events, from music to comedy.
Pennings Farm Cidery offers U-Pick apples, corn hole tournaments and special U-Pick + pizza + pints nights on the weekends. Typically, you’ll find a dozen orchard-grown hard ciders on tap, with Pennings beer and vodka, too. There are treats galore in the fall—don’t miss the apple cider donuts, kettle corn, and pies.
Give your taste buds a ride at Banished Brewing at Pine Island Tap House. The operation offers a farmhouse brewery experience, with options to try new beers, bourbons, vodkas, and spirits from across New York State. Every weekend, food trucks serve up drinks-friendly food like empanadas, cheesesteaks, and sausage and peppers.
If you want to kick back and take in some of the prettiest views in Orange County, pull up a chair.
Brown Barn Farms, located on a fifth-generation farm, embodies the farm-to-bottle spirit. You can visit their cocktail and beer bar in their old barn, surrounded by 23 acres of farmland, hang by their fire pits and pair aged and clear spirits and imaginative brews with snacks from the visiting food trucks. If it works: time your visit around the sunset.
Applewood Winery, a family-owned and operated winery and farm, offers an array of house-made wines and ciders, plus locally sourced meads, pints and cocktails, with indoor and outdoor seating available. If you sit outside, you can choose from tables, firepit tables or an outdoor cabana, and enjoy sprawling views of the orchard, lake and mountains.
The family-owned and operated Tin Barn Brewing has become a magnet for impromptu gatherings of beer-loving folks from all over the Valley. Spread out in the 12,000 square-foot interior space, or on the 1,500 square-foot Skydeck overlooking 8,500 square feet outdoors. Enjoy long hangout sessions over IPAs and fruited sours paired with artisan pizza from the Italian Dome oven and live music every Friday and Sunday.
The Shawangunk Mountain Scenic Byway essentially starts at Christopher Jacobs Winery. Enjoy Hudson River Region AVA wines, alongside unbeatable mountain and meadow views and stellar sunsets.
Get out and explore—with the Trail Pass and GPS by your side, delicious drinks and prizes are close at hand. Scan to sign up today!
Header: Rushing Duck Brewing Co. Photos: Courtesy Orange County Tourism