Recent changes to laws governing beer production have lead to a boom in small breweries that one must go back to the late nineteenth century to rival. In 1876 there were 393 breweries in New York, but after Prohibition was repealed in 1933 there were only a handful left. Now we’ve come full circle and there are more than 400 spread out across almost every county of the Empire State.
You may already be aware of this dramatic rise in the popularity of craft beers, but did you know that we are right in the middle of the region topping the list in terms of number of breweries? That’s right, a recent count shows there are 65 such establishments operating in the Hudson Valley. And many of them are less than an hour’s drive from Pawling. As the weather warms up, what better excuse for a ride in the country?
Thanks to GPS and beer locating apps like “Untappd” it’s easy to find breweries tucked away seemingly everywhere. Just when you think you’re really lost, you’ll spot the hand-painted sign pointing the way down a muddy road, or see cars headed to a parking lot at the back of a repurposed industrial building.
I found the Suarez Family Brewery in just such a place, housed in an old lamp factory in the town of Livingston, NY. (Although the street address is listed as Hudson, it’s not in the business district.) A light-filled tasting room, simply furnished with sit-down and standing-height wood tables and a wall-size 19th century-looking landscape, was brimming with visitors almost as soon as the doors opened at one o’clock on this brisk, sunny afternoon. If you don’t know your German pilsner from your Franconian keller lager, the friendly staff will help you choose between a Bones Shirt (an unfiltered black lager with “restrained notes of bread and cocoa”) and a Crispy Little (a pale ale with “agreeable orange/red grapefruit citrus flavors”). At $4 a ½-pint pour (and with a designated driver), it’s quite affordable to sample a few. And there’s a helpful basket of outstanding fresh, amber-colored soft pretzels freckled with salt and sesame seeds to keep you thirsty.
Described on their website as a “mom and pop production brewery specializing in ales of mixed fermentation, unfiltered lagers and other crispy little beers,” Suarez is owned and operated by husband and wife team Dan Suarez and Taylor Cocalis Suarez (mom and pop to Enzo).
Suarez Family Brewery is located at 2278 US Route 9, Hudson, NY. The tasting room is open on Wednesdays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information, visit SuarezFamilyBrewery.com online, or send an email to their inviting email address: Cheers@SuarezFamilyBrewery.com.