A Beloved New Paltz Brewpub Welcomes a Buzzy New Owner
Middletown’s Clemson Bros. Brewery announces its acquisition of The Gilded Otter in Ulster County.
Photos by Erik Gliedman
We’re only three months in, but 2019 is already a big year for brew news in the Hudson Valley.
First, we jumped with joy over the Industrial Arts expansion to Beacon (OK, so this was technically at the tail end of 2018, but close enough). More recently, we were buzzing about the hyper-local growth of Equilibrium Brewery in Middletown (hello, quadruple production!). Along the way, of course, we couldn’t help noticing the new bookstore bar in Newburgh and the wine bar in Poughkeepsie because, hey, how cool are they?
Now, all eyes are on New Paltz. More specifically, they’re on the city’s Main Street, where The Gilded Otter resides. Otherwise known as one of New Paltz’s oldest microbreweries and a generally beloved spot for locals, students, visitors, you name it, the brewpub will welcome a new owner in the form of Clemson Bros. Brewery this spring.
Kenan Porter, owner of Clemson Bros.
When asked about his reasons for the purchase of the New Paltz eatery, Clemson Bros. owner Kenan Porter cited his origins.
“I’m from Warwick,” he explains, adding, “New Paltz and Warwick have the same history.”
As Porter points out, The Gilded Otter is a hub for Hudson Valley history. When it first got up and running in 1998, the eatery drew its name from The Gilded Otter, the ship that brought Huguenots from France to America in the 1660s. Fast-forward to 2018, when the pub made history of its own with the celebration of its 20th anniversary in Ulster County. Now, in 2019, it kicks off a new era as part of Middletown’s Clemson Bros. Brewery.
Porter, who founded Clemson Bros. in Pine Island back in 2012, began scouting for opportunities to expand a year ago. On December 26, he reached out to Rick Rauch, The Gilded Otter’s managing partner, to get the ball rolling in New Paltz.
“It’s been a pleasure working with [Rauch],” Porter enthuses. “You have to know who you’re doing business with.”
Once the paperwork settles at the beginning of April, Rauch will continue to work with Porter during the transition period. Notably, The Gilded Otter will remain open throughout the transition, save for a few days when it closes for a head-to-toe deep clean of the property. In the near future, Porter hopes to remodel the kitchen and add a small apparel store for the brand as well.
For everyone wondering about the name, it will stay the same — sort of. In fact, the new nomer, Clemson Bros. Brewery at The Gilded Otter, honors the history of both businesses while simultaneously celebrating their union. Along that line, the menu will reflect that ideal as well. Many favorites will remain on the list, although Clemson will add its signature burgers to the mix. As for the tap list, it will reflect a mix of Otter beers and Clemson brews. The staff, brewers, and head chef will all be able to stay on as well.
While The Gilded Otter merger is certainly the buzziest development for Clemson at the moment, the beer brand has yet another exciting project in the works in the Hudson Valley. It’s currently in the process of building a new facility in Warwick to complement its current setup in Middletown. Stay tuned for an opening announcement ahead of its estimated launch date in January 2020.