Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beer with Heart: The Newburgh Brewing Company

I've said it before,

the Hudson Valley is a mecca of culinary wonders. From the tiny independently-run hot dog shops hiding in city corners, to the ingredient-and-wine-focused tapas bars bringing in neighborhood locals, and even the doorsteps of some of the most cutting-edge chefs around, there is so much to explore.

This past weekend, I got to explore, and boy did I find somewhere worth visiting.

A friend invited me to enjoy a tour and tasting of the Newburgh Brewing Company, located in Newburgh, NY. Passion is something that is garnered here at the CIA, and it was evident that the guys running this fairly-new, yet monstrously-popular brewery have that passion in their blood AND their beer.

The Newburgh Brewing Company is located right along the Hudson river, in a massive old building that business partners Christopher Basso (Brewmaster and CEO) and Paul Halayko rennovated to create the brewery that it is today... and it's still just the beginning.

At the beginning of the tour, Paul met us at the door and brought us to meet Chris in the brewing room, which is located on the bottom floor of the Brewery building. The brewery produces 8 different types of beers, which I will discuss later, all with one to two staff members at a time. Pretty darn impressive, right?

Chris explained to us the process that Newburgh uses to create their craft beers. The process starts with imported malted barley, which they get from Europe and mill on site. This is then steeped, just like tea, which converts the starches in the barley into sugars, which can then be fermented. The liquid is extracted from this step and gets boiled, along with English and German hops, which are sometimes toasted, depending on the beer. At this point flavorings are added, if it applies to the beer, and they then get strained through a tank called a "hop back", which prevents particles from escaping into the finished liquid, called the "wort". The wort is then cooled and fermented, using the natural yeasts from previous batches of Newburgh beer. The fermentation period lasts about five days, including a two-week cold conditioning period. After it is filtered, if necessary, it is carbonated, bottled, and then ready for your drinking pleasure!!

After our tour, we headed upstairs to the tasting room, which is located on the top floor of the building. The space was beautiful, and could have easily held 150 people. Besides the sweeping views of the river, the large wooden tables, pinball machines, old games, and antique-vintagey feel, there was the bar, which serves all 8 of NBC's beers

Brewmaster Chris has both a culinary background, and a beer background, which he gained from spending time at culinary school in New York, and working for the notorious Brooklyn Brewery.

"When I make beer, it's just like a chef creating a dish," he explains.
"Beer can marry with food and really highlight different characteristics. With so many different hops, yeasts, and grains, beer can cover the entire spectrum of wine plus more." 

His culinary knowledge and creativity really shined through in his beer, and we could tell that each one was well constructed. 

Our tasting consisted of four beers, plus a fifth special beer of our choosing.

For those who like light beers like Bud Light, the Cream Ale is for you. Its high malt content gives you a creamy mouth feel, and would go well with many different types of foods. The Saison is an unfiltered Belgian farmhouse ale, with a clovey finish and a cinnamon allspice nose. It is a great summer beer, but reminded me faintly of the holidays from its smell. The Peat Smoked Stout is a dry Irish stout that contains malt which has been smoked over a peat fire. It's charred smokey aroma and full flavor would go great with some BBQ!
My favorite beer of the night was the Brown Ale. This english style ale had hints of chocolate, espresso , and caramel, without a huge amount of bitterness. I really have to say that this is one of the best beers I've had...ever! We ended our tasting with a sample of the Gose, which is a german wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt, giving it a unique sour flavor.

We spent the rest of the night enjoying the beautiful space, sipping delicious craft brews, and playing cornhole as the sun set over the Hudson river.

The Newburgh Brewing Company is a must-visit if you are in the Hudson valley. They offer trivia nights (with some pretty awesome prizes) every Wednesday, and are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for dinner, with a menu that features their beer, as well as the local produce from the Hudson valley (Cream Ale-battered onion rings, anyone? Brown Ale chocolate sundae?).

Do consider heading over and supporting such a heart-filled venture!

Stay Hungry and Curious,

Blayre :)

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