I Love NY
New York is fantastic! I’m not just talking about the diverse and vibrant city I live in, the state itself runs the gamut from quiet beaches, to not so quiet beaches (what’s up Fire Island?!), orchards, farms, vineyards, and even ski slopes. The hiking and camping are top notch, if you’re into that sort of thing. I (no surprise here) am in it for the scenic places to imbibe! All of those amazing natural elements add up to some amazing opportunities for craft spirits, beer, wine, cider, and beyond. There’s a reason our motto here at The Crafty Cask is “drink craft, drink the world” and I’m out to prove it to ya! Today, we’re going to be talking about the deliciousness of…
The Hudson Valley
Stretching along the Hudson River, the Hudson Valley includes everything from Westchester to Albany. Easily accessible by bus, train, car, or motorcycle (if you are so inclined), most of the drive up the river is flat-out stunning. It would be impossible to cover everything in this Tippling Travel Guide for you, but I’m going to attempt to cull together a few of my favorite breweries and distilleries as a jumping off point to your excursion. There are plenty of places to drink and things to do in Hudson Valley, but cider and wine will have to wait til next time! And be sure to pack layers, our weather is fickle.
Before our foray into upstate NY tipples, let’s talk a little lore. For starters, Sleepy Hollow is an actual town in the Hudson Valley and yes, Halloween there is lit.
Considered the oldest continuously inhabited street in America, check out Huguenot Street in New Paltz.
If you find yourself in “The Gunks” as the locals refer to the area around the Shawangunk mountains, keep an eye out for the inventive topiary creations of Keith Buesing, like this gecko right here!
Oh and always be on the lookout for Bill Murray! As he lives in the region, he’ll randomly show up on his bicycle just about everywhere and start pouring tequila!
Think NY, Drink NY: Bring on the Beer!
Pre Prohibition, NY grew and provided 90% of the nation’s hops (our apologies to the Pacific Northwest). The first craft brewery in the U.S. can be traced to Manhattan in 1612. Today we have more than 440 licensed breweries—I had better get busy!
This makes a great day trip from NYC! There are two locations, Beacon and Garnerville. Beacon is an easy train ride up on Metro North and there is plenty to do, including visiting Dia Beacon. I opted to ride on the back of a motorcycle up to Garnerville, where the art is part of the environment. Industrial Arts brews 7 core beers, with rotating “farm and philanthropy” brews. These featured beers raise money for and draw attention to important causes.
This husband and wife founded brewery in Poughkeepsie makes some seriously funky stuff! With a mission to brew 100% NY Farm Beer, much of what they brew with is grown on site. The yeast plan Bee uses is cultivated from the honeycombs from their bee hives, hence the name. My friend Amy, the president of Women Who Whiskey Hudson Valley, took me here on a Friday evening. Great spot for groups and even kids, they have a variety of lawn games and plenty of nature to observe. I attempted to make friends with their goats, alas, they didn’t return my admiration…
In addition to beer, they also carry local NY cider and wine as well as cheeses and snacks like my fave NY grown solar popped popcorn: Bjorn Qorn! Check the Plan Bee website to see if there are scheduled food trucks like Lucy’s, my go to for amazing sammies run by another fantastic husband and wife team!
I first met these rad dudes up at Ommegang’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown Festival and I gotta tell ya, they brew the first cucumber beer I have ever liked! I have since taken their cans glamping in Roscoe (aka Trout Town USA), but you can enjoy them at their downtown Poughkeepsie location, which is conveniently located near the train. They also serve beer and cheese soup with a soft pretzel…yes please.
There are so many amazing breweries in the Hudson Valley, it’s impossible to cover them all in one travel guide. But, here’s a few others to check out while you’re there (I’m a massive fan of Keegan’s Milk Stout). Stay tuned for our upcoming feature on Brooklyn Cider House’s upstate orchard and tasting room, where they’ve built a wood-fired pizza oven!
Cider more your thing?
Spirits have always been a big deal in NY, whether we are talking ghost walks in Sleepy Hollow, a service with a Medium in Lily Dale, or the fact that the first commercial distillery in North America was built on Staten Island in 1640. When it came to reviving distillation post prohibition however, NY hit a bit of a dry spell. It wasn’t until 2004 when a group of determined Hudson Valley distilling pioneers—led by a man name Ralph Erenzo—worked together to pass legislation allowing them to light the fires again.
The distillery Ralph built after winning the right to make spirits in NY is located in Gardiner. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in many a tour here, as well as getting to select a private barrel for Dear Irving. My favorite part (besides the history—a million thank yous, Ralph) is getting to say hello to Bourbon and Rye—the absolutely massive distillery cats.
Head up to the state capital and check out some other fantastic distillery cats, Cooper and Monty, and yeah, some rad juice! The small but mighty staff has won awards for their rye. Don’t miss their Death Wish Coffee Vodka—top notch in an Espresso Martini! The distillery accommodates guests by appointments for tours, while their bottle shop and bar is open Tues-Sat.
Pop into nearby Troy and get your I-can’t-believe-this-is-veggie bar food needs met at The Little Viking Co!
Want more upstate spirits?
But I Just Want To Sit At A Bar
So many places to visit and so little time! For a solid tasting of what NY has to offer, pull up a stool at Gardiner Liquid Mercantile. They distill their own delicious fruit brandies with fruit and berries grown on Dressel’s Farm in New Paltz and Gardiner. Additionally, they only carry NY product behind their bar and in their shop! The cocktails are delicious, as is the food.
Fancy something flaming? Prepare for Fuchsia Tiki to transport you out of New Paltz, straight to a tropical (albeit totally made up) isle. My cocktail came with marshmallows on skewers to toast over the flames (drink at your own risk). We also ordered a variety of sushi and bar snacks and everything was on point!
Also in New Paltz, Huckleberry always delivers on a solid craft beer list and great food. The veggie putin was banging and they have a massive patio. Over in Rhinebeck, explore the wide variety of craft Irish spirits at Bia. Cocktails are innovative twists on classics and their Irish Coffee is the stuff of dreams. Go for farm to table dinner. I am still dreaming about the root vegetable risotto with tiny turnips. Who doesn’t love a tiny turnip?
For a more majestic and historic adventure, head over the Mohonk Mountain House (no the Shining wasn’t filmed here). Built in 1869, it’s not only a national historic landmark, it has a ridiculous spa, farm to table dining, and is nestled in the most jaw dropping bit of nature. You can get a day pass for the property to hike, ice skate (winter only), golf, or walk among the tulips!
Obsessed with farm to table and have lots of cash to drop? Snag a reservation at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Dan Barber’s farm and research center does elaborate tasting menus based around the seasons. He even created his own hybrid squash (honeynut) that my mother is obsessed with. I’m a huge fan of his book The Third Plate, which focuses on sustainable foodways and heritage crops. Diner here is a bucket list kind of thing, if you go please take me with you. Or at least bring me a doggie bag.
See the map below for the locations of the places to drink and things to do in Hudson Valley mentioned here
What are your favorite things to do in Hudson Valley?
Let us know in the comments below! New York is a massive state. I find something new everytime I venture out my front door and I have lived here for 17 years. Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or to plan an extended exploration à la the region’s namesake, The Hudson Valley is just chock full of craft beer, spirits, cider, and, sometimes, Bill Murray.
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Jena is an event host & contributing writer for The Crafty Cask, as well as an award-winning bartender, cocktail educator, Cicerone Certified Beer Server, and Executive American Whiskey Steward. Based in NYC, Jena has been working in the craft alcohol world for the last 15 years with recipes appearing in Manhattan restaurant/bars & multiple publications. She is the 2019 Nikka Perfect Serve Global Runner Up and a 2020 Cognac Connection winner.