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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Brown’s Brewing Company offers more than 25 different styles of ales and lagers throughout the year
Photograph courtesy of Brown’s Brewing Company
America was once a nation of brewers. According to a recent article in The New Yorker (which has the best fact-checking department outside of Poughkeepsie), there were about 4,000 regional breweries in 1873.
One of those was the C.H. Evans Brewing Company. Cornelius Evans bought a Hudson-based brewery, which had opened for business in 1786, and produced award-winning ales for about 60 years. Then in 1919 came Prohibition, which killed off Evans and most local brewers nationwide. The rest were snuffed out by the rise of mass production following Prohibition’s repeal. That also put our native beer’s variety, freshness, and flavor on the verge of extinction. By 1965, there was just one craft brewer left standing, Anchor Brewing, in San Francisco.
Now, thanks to changing laws and changing palates, there are more than 1,500 breweries nationwide, the highest number in a century. One of those is, once again, C.H. Evans. Cornelius’s great-great grandson, C.H. Evans IV, revived his family business as C.H. Evans Brewing at the Albany Pump Station 10 years ago. Neil, as he is known, never heard much about his family’s brewing history until he was in his 20s, when he got to know a great uncle, the last family survivor of the Hudson brewing days. “It totally fascinated me,” he says, “but I never thought I could do anything about it.”
The C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station is housed in two adjoining historic buildings that date back to the late 1870s
Then, in the 1980s, the brewery laws changed. “There were now some tax benefits to opening a small brewery,” Evans says. That’s when the craft-brew boom really got going. As defined by the Brewers Association, a craft brewery produces less than two million barrels a year. (A barrel contains two kegs, to give you a recognizable, frat-party reference.) A microbrewery produces less than fifteen thousand. A brewpub serves at least a quarter of its beer in house. Hudson Valley brewers are at the small end of microbrewing: Brown’s, for example, topped off just 2,300 barrels in 2009. “What we brew in a year, the big breweries spill in a day,” co-owner Kelly Brown says.
By the 1980s several craft breweries were pretty well established on the West Coast. And in the late ’80s they drew Kelly and her then-boyfriend, Garrett (Garry) Brown, on a cross-country trek that led to Brown’s Brewing. “Garry was a photojournalist, and I was a flight attendant,” says Kelly. “He introduced me to craft beer. I had never had one — I tried the tasteless yellow stuff in college and didn’t like it. Once I tried real beer, I was hooked. And he had this idea to start our own brewery.”
Like most nascent brewers, they first tried home brewing. “We made beer for our wedding in 1990. We called it Wedding Feast Ale. It was completely awful,” Brown laughs. Undaunted, they teamed up with a partner, bought an abandoned warehouse on the Troy waterfront, spent three years rehabbing it themselves, and launched Brown and Moran’s in 1993. (Partner James Moran left a few years later.)