Saturday, April 16, 2016

Old Claverack Brewing - Quietly Making Great, Truly Local Beer

OK, the first thing to note. It's way in the back country. Think dirt roads. And when you get there, you think you might be at the wrong place. There's just enough signage to let you know you're there, but not enough to suspect that its a thriving craft beverage business. Don't let that fool you! Old Klaverack (presumably the old Dutch spelling?) is named for the town of Claverack, NY in Columbia County, not far from the Hudson River.

Old Klaverack has kind of been operating under the radar. I'd heard about Old Klaverack Brewery first in the newspaper, seeing that the planning board had approved the business. But then hadn't heard about them at all after that. Then someone told me they'd been open for a while. And that was it, I made the trek out. But most folks don't know about Old Klaverack....yet!

Firstly owner/brewer Erik Bell is serious about his business, especially his brewing. He see's it as a craft, and art, not just as a means of commerce (although, that don't hurt). They are the town of Claverack's first brewery. Eric's mission is to craft a one of a kind beer using locally sourced ingredients from the town of Claverack along with surrounding towns, counties, and NYS. He even grows his own hops! Erik doesn't use any extract. He uses grains, local when he can get them. All from New York state.

This is a small operation, housed in a small, two-car garage. But the beer has made quick friends for Erik. He is starting to build a small, loyal following. And it's understandable why. The beer, though a limited selection I had, was wonderful!

The Longbeard Stout was easily my favorite. Rich, dark and deep, it instantly wowed me with it's maltiness! Next favorite was the Belgian White. A very elegant, floral beer, with a hint of sourness. Absolutely fabulous! The Theilman Pale Ale was wonderful. A nice, rich maltiness, with just a whiff of hops. But incredibly drinkable. And the Roxbury IPA was wonderful as well. Incredibly aromatic without being over hopped.

One of the things I liked most about Erik's beers were that they were not suffering fro the same over hopped mania that seems to have swept through the rest of the craft industry. Erik pulled back the reins. Many of the hops he used were more aromatic than biting. His beers let the malt show through, and the hops, fresh from his own family's farm, gave the beers a lovely essence. These beers definitely exhibit terrior!
"I've had a passion for craft beer as long as I can remember, but started brewing it myself in 2011," says owner/brewer Eric Bell. "I wanted to emphasize most in each type of beer I brew, to make them unique to Old Klaverack Brewery."  . 

Old Klaverack Hop Farm
Old Klaverack Hop Farm was started in 2014 as an experimental project started because Eric’s father wanted desperately to grow hops for his son. He convinced his fatherto plant a few hops rhizomes to see if the well-drained soil of their farm land had characterizes for hop production.   After the initial planting of three varieties of hops, Cascade, Galena, and Fuggles in the spring the plants did extremely well and we hoped that harvest would tell the tale we wanted to hear, and it did.  Harvest time yielded more than we expected for 1st year plants and the size, quality and aroma was exceptional.  We did not send any of the harvest out for alpha acid testing but plan extensive testing next harvest and beyond!
According to their website: “We are expanding in our 2nd year to approximately 200 to 250 plants of the same three varieties.  This includes the installation of an extensive trellis system to accommodate the vibrant hop bine growth.  If the second year planting yields anything like the first year we plan to expand with a third year planting with a approximate total of 500 to 650 plants to supply not only Old Klaverack Brewery but also any other local brewery and home brewers.” At Old Klaverack Hop Farm they look forward to supplying Old Klaverack Brewery and other local brewers the best hops possible.


The other cool thing to note, if you can't get your butt down to Old Klaverack is that you can go the Main Street Public House, in Philmont, NY, and try his beers there, because they have 'em on tap!!!! You can also find them at the Vanderbilt House in Philmont, or on tap in Hudson, NY, at Wunder Bar! Run, don't walk. These are limited, small batch wonders!!! And they are a local piece of art! And they are just good drinking!