Sloop Brewing, Poughkeepsie
The best brews and news to come out of Poughkeepsie’s Sloop Brewing in 2013
When Adam Watson, co-owner of Sloop Brewing in Poughkeepsie, heard that Blind Bat Brewery in Long Island, owned by a friend of his, had been selected one of the 10 favorite nanobreweries in the nation by Bon Appétit, he clicked on the magazine’s Web site to check it out. What he saw next shocked him: Sloop Brewing also popped up on the list. In fact, it was the first one mentioned.
“I was totally surprised,” says Watson, 31, of Wappingers Falls. It was a heady experience for him and partner Justin Taylor, also 31, of Poughkeepsie, who have been running their beer business for only a year. The two graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 2006, where they met and shared their love of craft beer. Like most small brewers, they started making their own homebrew when not working at their day jobs — Watson is a geologist with Tectonic Engineering, Taylor a teacher in the Poughkeepsie City School District. They thought their beer was good enough to sell, so Watson approached the Beacon Farmer’s Market about setting up a booth. “They said we needed all kinds of permits — actually, we needed to start a brewery,” Watson says. “So that’s what we did.”
Once the necessary federal and state licenses and permits were in place in 2012, they began selling bottles from their 20-gallon batches at the market. “People got into it, so we started growing,” Watson says. Local bars and restaurants signed on to carry their products. In fact, they couldn’t keep up with demand. Brewing out of Taylor’s home on makeshift equipment, the duo converted a small building on Taylor’s property into their “brewery.” A Budweiser factory, this ain’t. “We can barely fit one person in it,” Watson says, “but we make it work somehow.” They bought a used keg washer from Tommy Keegan at Keegan Ales, and Taylor’s father, Jim, fabricated a water heater for it.
The new system has allowed the pair to increase production four-fold. They now make five brews: Sloop Solstice is a Belgian-style blonde; Red C is a red IPA; Black C is a black Belgian IPA; Black Razz is a sour black ale with raspberries; and Sauer Peach, a sour wheat Berliner Weisse beer with peach purée. They are still unable to meet the demand. “We have people calling all the time asking for a keg of this, three cases of that,” Watson says.
Along with production issues, the main fly in their brew is dealing with the government — the state Liquor Authority and Department of Taxation and Finance, and the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. “It’s a huge challenge making those three entities happy,” he says. But the benefits far outweigh the hassles. “To make a product people enjoy, and see them post how they love it on Facebook, is great. The support from other beer professionals and consumers is outstanding. There aren’t a lot of industries where you can find that.”
As a not-for-profit, any money they make — and it isn’t much — goes back into the business. They’d like to continue to grow, and hope to establish a tasting room in the near future. Maybe they could even quit their day jobs, stop making all the deliveries themselves, spend more time with their wives and newborn children, and even — dare they dream? — make a few bucks. “We would like to be available in more of New York State,” Watson says. “How big do we want to be? We don’t know. We are open for whatever comes our way.” www.sloopbrewing.com