How Arrowood Farms Brewery Cultivates a Unique Beer Business
Arrowood uses a biodynamic farming philosophy to produce beer.
Photos by Jay Paavonpera
Brewing beer requires a few essential ingredients. Clean water, grain, yeast, hops, and — if you ask Blake Arrowood and Jacob Meglio, anyway — ducks and sheep and pigs. Their new brewery, Arrowood Farms, in Accord, incorporates self-sustaining farming and the alchemy of brewing to create, well, a farm brewery.
Arrowood, 30, grew up in a farming community in North Carolina. A friend from college was from Rosendale. “I heard about the Hudson Valley, the renaissance there for agriculture and young folks, and that led me here in 2013 to learn about farming in a community I connected with,” he says. He interned at the Hudson Valley Seed Library, where he met a man named Let Lee, who owned a farm and wanted Arrowood to get it going. Hops seemed to be a good place to start.
He wanted to create a biodynamic environment; enter ducks. “Hops like a lot of nitrogen, and I knew that duck manure is high in nitrogen content,” he says. He gathered about a dozen heritage breeds and let them wander around, eating bugs and fertilizing his plants. Healthy hops grow fast, and need a well-cultivated growing space; enter sheep. Arrowood allowed a neighbor to graze his Border Cheviot flock around the plants to eat weeds and the lower foliage, giving them better airflow and ultimately reducing disease.
“Hops is incredibly labor-intensive,” he says. “We needed a value-added product, and for us growing hops and grains, it made sense to put a brewery front and center.” Enter Jacob Meglio. Meglio, 28, grew up in the Valley and graduated from SUNY New Paltz. He was studying pre-med, but was more passionate about home brewing. So when he met Arrowood, he decided to trade medicine for beer. “As a homebrewer you dream of owning your own brewery,” he says. They joined forces with Lee, and the three are now partners.
They set up the brewery while six varieties of hops plants were maturing. A new three-barrel brewing facility, complete with tasting room and kitchen, was built right in the center of the farm, because “farming is at the center of our philosophy,” Arrowood says. Brewing makes waste, however; enter the pigs. Last spring, five piglets were brought in to eat all of their spent grain. They also brought in beekeepers to set up an apiary, to pollinate the hops and native wildflowers planted on the farm’s meadows. Pork products are now sold in their tasting room, and honey from the hives and eggs from the ducks also feed the visitors they draw.
They opened last year, and hope to expand their reach this spring — they reopened March 17 after a winter break. “Last season was about getting the word out,” Arrowood says. “We are looking forward to meeting more neighbors through this spring and summer.” Their beer, currently only available in kegs, can be found at many locations in the Valley and in New York City. The best place to try it, though, is right where it’s made.
As the first brewery in New York State to grow its own certified organic hops and grains, you won’t find a better representation of terroir. “Having all these systems center around the beer — the ducks fertilize the hops, the pigs forage and eat spent grain, the sheep clean and fertilize, the bees pollinate — we are really trying to do this in the most responsible way,” Meglio says. “And that elevates everything.”
236 Lower Whitfield Road, Accord; 845.253.0389; www.arrowoodfarms.com