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Hudson Valley: The next big beer destination?

Hudson Valley is known for many things and beer is becoming a top contender on that list. Westchester alone is producing a few thousand barrels of beer and does not show signs of stopping! Megan McCaffrey from LoHud takes you through the booming business.

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Beer is big business in the Hudson Valley
Megan McCaffrey , mmccaffrey@lohud.com 11:11 a.m. EDT August 31, 2016
TJN 1008 lohud craft beer trailBuy Photo

American craft beer is maker culture at its finest. The shining success story of young, thirsty entrepreneurs willing to pull on the rubber boots, and put good, old-fashioned hard work into a small and independently made product they can be proud of.

It’s also an industry that’s booming locally, creating jobs, luring millennials into local housing and breathing new life into forlorn industrial spaces.

The number of brewing companies throughout Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties has dramatically increased in the last few years. By the end of 2017, there are expected to be 18 local breweries — of varying sizes and styles — up from seven in 2014.

There are 288 breweries statewide, estimates Paul Leone, executive director of the New York State Brewers Association, and that number will increase to the mid-400s by 2019, he predicts.

And the industry doesn’t show signs of stopping.

“If (the beer is) good, people will continue to drink it,” says Leone. “It doesn’t matter how many there are.”

With the rise in the industry comes better beer, of course, but also the potential to revive neighborhoods and employ workers, from tasting-room employees to hop farmers to barrel-makers.

“In retrospect it (the industry boom) was happening the whole time and now it’s arriving in a major way,” says Jeff O’Neil, the owner of Industrial Arts Brewing in West Haverstraw, who has been making beer professionally for more than 20 years, 15 of them in New York State — at Ithaca Beer Co. and Peekskill Brewery. “Now that we stuck it out, it’s a viable career and business.”

Here in the Lower Hudson Valley, there are a variety of styles of craft breweries. Brewpubs, like Bull and Barrel in Brewster, Yonkers Brewing Co. and Peekskill Brewery, make beer in-house and serve it alongside gastropub fare. Microbreweries, like Broken Bow in Tuckahoe and the new Duncan’s Abbey in Tarrytown and Decadent Ales in Mamaroneck, are small— brewing fewer than 15,000 barrels every year— and distribute locally.

By brewing around 25,000 barrels of beer each year, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. qualifies as the area’s only regional brewery — officially, a brewery that brews between 15,000 and 6 million barrels annually. Captain Lawrence focuses on both quality and volume, and distributes across state lines. Industrial Arts Brewing, opening to the public in late August at the Garner Arts Center, will produce about 5,000 barrels, and is the area’s next big brewery to watch.

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