Get Your Beer Here
Hudson Valley Brewers fill our cups with some of the freshest, tastiest beers in the country — bar none
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Steak, shrimp, and suds: Hearty food — and brew made using only German, British, and Belgian malts — is on tap at the Skytop Steakhouse and Brewing Company
It wasn’t long before others in the Hudson Valley followed the Browns’s lead. In 1996, after a successful career in the casino and food-service industries, Evans began pondering his family heritage. If he was going to start brewing again, he needed to get his hands hoppy. Like the Browns, he tried home brewing. “Then I knew that was what I wanted to do,” he says. He hoped to open again in Hudson, but the demographics weren’t right. He found an abandoned water pump station in downtown Albany, remodeled it, hired a professional brewer named George De Piro (“I knew I wasn’t good enough,” he admits), opened in 1999, and has been winning beer-making awards ever since.
“When I first pitched the idea, everyone said I was nuts,” Evans says. “It took a couple years, but those doubting Thomases came to me and said, ‘Wow, you were right. That was fun.’ ”
But financial I-told-you-so’s weren’t his motivation. “I was a successful businessman prior to this,” he says. “I did this out of passion.”
Garry and Kelly Brown originally planned to open just a brewery and tasting room, but were convinced that they needed food to entice an uneducated beer populace. Joey LoBianco, who co-owns Hyde Park Brewing Company in Hyde Park, which opened 15 years ago, and the five-year-old Skytop Steakhouse and Brewing Company in Kingston, came from the opposite direction.
— Dave Barry
“I was already in the restaurant business, and an old friend from the Culinary Institute was looking for a new idea,” LoBianco says. “He put this concept of brewing in the restaurant to us. He said it was going on in California and he thought it would sweep the East Coast next. He was right.”
Rick Rauch, co-owner and managing partner of the Gilded Otter in New Paltz, who opened his pub in 1998, also added beer to food rather than vice versa. “A restaurant is just a restaurant, and there are many theme restaurants out there. We needed a gimmick to ensure success. People see the tanks and all the bells and whistles. It was a good gimmick at the time, and it’s proven to be a lasting gimmick.” Still, 95 percent of his customers come for the food, he says. “The brewery is our cherry on top of the sundae.”
For others, though, beer is the ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream.