Located on the scenic Hudson river valley, just north of West Point and a stones throw across the river from Beacon (and the Dia:Beacon Museum), in the city of Newburgh sits the aptly named Newburgh Brewing Company.
Nestled 4 stories deep in an old industrial building constructed in the late 1800’s, which once housed a steam engine factory and eventually a paper box factory — is now the home of something much better, a place that makes fantastic beer – the Newburgh Brewery.
Humble Beginnings of The Newburgh Brewery
One busy Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to stop by for some food, beer, and to meet with Head Brewer and Owner, Chris Basso. He gave me a quick rundown of how things got started — a bit about the past, present and even some thoughts on the future.
As the story goes, the brewery was started by Chris and two other guys who had a love for beer and the experience to make it work. Chris got his start homebrewing, and eventually entered his professional career, working for Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — where all the special Brooklyn beers are made (no, not Brooklyn Lager). After 6 years of working for someone else, he felt as though his skills and the timing were right to start his own thing — and this is how Newburgh Brewing Company was born.
The portfolio of beer brewed is always expanding, and the approach they take is experimental and quite exciting. However, their most commonly recognized beer is the cream ale. This past GABF they won a silver medal for Newburgh Cream Ale (congrats guys!) As Chris puts it, it’s is nicely balanced and easy drinking beer, and was designed for that purpose — to attract the non-craft drinker (and beer snob alike), and intended to please every palate. So, the medal is well deserved, as it’s a straight forward beer to get your game on. It’s available in cans in and around the NYC and Hudson valley region. Maybe next year they can take home the gold?
Tame the Wild Hudson Suds
Silver medal aside — it’s not the cream ale that brought the beer geek in me to the brewery… it was the vast array of fun experimentation that appears to be going on in their approximately 3000 barrel brewhouse. Some of these unique beers include a coffee sour ale called C.A.F.E. Sour, which is incredible — think of an iced coffee with sour Greek yogurt — it’s tart, has the flavor of coffee and the mouthfeel of a summertime lacto sour, one could guzzle it by the gallon. Other interesting beers include a Blueberry Brett Mint, which was a 100% Brettanomyces beer brewed with local mint and blueberries, created for the first Hudson Valley Craft Beer week. Beyond these, there’s a lot to choose from on a daily basis, and with frequent rotation. Just check out that beer list photo below for an idea.
The need to craft new experiences at Newburgh is pushing them forward — assuming the cream ale brings in even more happy local customers. There’s a big future ahead for the brewery, and it’s been growing as the city slowly turns a new leaf.
Stepping In, Stepping Up
When visiting, the brewery and taproom are located in a large open space serving food, filling growlers, event hosting and more — even some games — all with a nice view of the river.
One fun point that Chris brought up in our conversation, is that he’s met customers who weren’t craft beer drinkers, who have shown up and tried the cream ale because that’s all they were comfortable with, having been attached to macro lagers. Eventually they’d return and build up the courage to try something new. After much surprise that it wasn’t bad, they’d enjoy it — and try another. They’d return again… and again… and again, trying something new each time. Eventually, they’d become regulars who would show up specifically looking for whatever was newly tapped and available. From afraid of change, to embracing new experiences. It’s remarkable what good beer can do — this is one of the things that makes the whole craft beer movement awesome.
Recently released by Newburgh is a collaboration beer with a local brewery in Poughkeepsie, NY, Plan Bee Farmhouse Brewery — who are currently in the process of construction of their new farm brewery. The collaboration they put together looks to be pretty amazing. It’s called Cross Pollination which is a sour beer brewed with 100% local NY State ingredients including fresh rose hips and red grape must. The two brewery owners are long-time friends, so naturally this seemed like the perfect reason to collaborate. Chris even mentioned this in our conversation, so hopefully we’ll see more collaboration beer from the two of these guys down the road.
A look at the future by turning the town around
As Newburgh hasn’t always had the greatest reputation, one thing that Chris was happy to bring up is that the brewery is one of the positive turning points in the cities history, and really brings in good charm to a place in much need of some reform. I’ll gladly raise a glass to that, because if there’s anything that should help turn a city around for the better, it’s good beer.
If you happen to find yourself looking for Hudson Valley activities, consider stopping by Newburgh Brewery, it’s a great destination for some solid food and tasty beer. If you bump into Chris working the bar, be sure to tell him that Ian from the Brewery Show says hello. Cheers!