The Little Beer Bus - Hudson Valley New York Breweries

Hudson Valley Breweries

Our tours take you to the best Hudson Valley Breweries of New York.

The Gilded Otter Brewery

New York Hudson Valley Breweries

Hudson Valley breweries keep popping up. You can easily visit a few of them as part of an overnight or weekend trip to the region - but, of course, you'll need to have a designated driver. Learn about the region at the Hudson Valley Beer Trail.

The Places

Defiant Brewing Company
6 E. Dexter Plaza, Pearl River, 845-920-8602

Not technically a brew pub, Defiant does keep bar hours and has a bar where you can sample the brewery's signature beer, Muddy Creek Lager. Besides this sweet lager, with its nutty aroma and sage aftertaste, Defiant also offers a rotating selection and seasonal beers. Its bartenders, all brewing apprentices, are good-humored but take their beer seriously. Instead of beer nuts, patrons get chunks of the brewery's own barbecued meats to nibble while bartenders fill mugs and talk with patrons about the art of beer-making.

Little Thumper is a rotating beer that follows a simple formula: It always uses a single malt and a single hop. Prohibition Lager has special ingredients making it true to that time when strong drink was banned. The Belgian Style Tripel Ale is a mouthwatering abbey-style ale with a fruity flavor and spicy finish.

 

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
99 Castleton St., Pleasantville, 914-741-2337

Billed as "Westchester's only craft brewery," Captain Lawrence brews about five beers year-round - most are on draft. The bar often is standing-room-only and highly convivial during its limited hours, when several bartenders keep their beefy, beer-drinking arms in shape pulling the tap handles. Patrons are welcome to do tastings and fill up their "growlers" 4-7 p.m. Fridays and noon-6 p.m. Saturdays.

The "Freshchester" Pale Ale has a clean bitterness with a woodsy aroma. The Sun Block Wheat Beer is a hazy Belgian-style wheat beer that's evocative of cream soda. The Captains Reserve Imperial I.P.A. (India Pale Ale) is a hoppy beer with a citrus taste that won a best beer in New York prize in 2006.

Brewmaster Scott Vaccaro's father, Vincent, conducts free brewery tours on Saturdays, every hour on the hour, and thus his son has dedicated a specialty beer to him: St. Vincent's Dubbel. This caramel-colored classic Belgian-style abbey ale is rich and malty.

 

Peekskill Brewery Restauran
55 Hudson Ave., Peekskill, 914-734-2337

The newest of this trail's bunch, Peekskill's microbrewery operation is still quite small. Its few tanks are tucked into a hallway that joins a casual, full-scale restaurant with a large barroom where food is served.

Co-owner Morgan E. Berardi says Peekskill has several original beers, plus a medley of brews from various regional craft breweries, such as Defiant and Captain Lawrence. There are 14 craft beers on tap (not including its own) and about 100 varieties of bottled craft beers.

Its flagship beer is the Paramount Pale Ale - a session beer with a slightly minty flavor and just the right amount of bitterness. The Hefeweizen is a mild seasonal beer with a buttery flavor. On a recent visit, a serious beer-drinker scoffed at the seasonal Strawberry Hefeweizen as something "for the ladies," but he missed a fruity and spicy wheat beer that's frothy and refreshing with strawberries in the mug.

Besides pub staples such as the ploughman's platter and brewery wings, the restaurant has traditional American dishes, and offers a beer tasting menu for $25-$35.

 

Hyde Park Brewing Company 
4076 Albany Post Rd., Hyde Park, 845-229-8277

One of the breweries that got the whole craft-beer craze started 15 years ago in the Upper Hudson Valley, Hyde Park Brewing Co. not only serves handcrafted lagers and the occasional ale, but also offers choice beef steaks. German-style brewmaster John Eccles tends to be traditional (for instance, he shuns fruit in his beers) and has had plenty of time to perfect his lagers and ales. In summer, there's outdoor dining and live music Wednesday and Friday nights.

The brew pub's signature beer (also served at sister brew pub, Skytop) is Winkle Lager, a Bohemian-style beer that's crisp and clean with a slightly spicy, almost peppery, finish. The Rough Rider Red Lager is an auburn beer with German and Belgian malts that references Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Big Easy Blonde is a Munich-style Helles (light lager) with a logo that calls to mind World War II plane art.

Brewing apprentice Lucas Marmo is happy to give tours when not too busy with customers. The steakhouse's menu also offers German specialties such as a knockwurst platter and a schnitzel, plus seafood, burgers and pizza.

 

Keegan Ales 
20 St. James St., Kingston, 845-331-2739

Keegan Ales is the baby of Long Island native Tommy Keegan, whose father runs the BrickHouse Brewery in Patchogue. Keegan brews three varieties and is working on a fourth. The brewery has picnic tables in the bar area and peanut shells on the floor, plus a small restaurant area that's also used as a performance venue. It's been recognized as one of the best craft breweries in the Hudson Valley and New York State.

Old Capital is a clean and crisp golden ale with a name referencing Kingston as the first capital of the state. Mother's Milk is a style of beer called "milk stout" - it's rich and creamy with a silky finish. Keegan is currently brewing Joe Mama's Milk (with coffee and molasses) to serve commercially. The brew won the award for best beer at this year's TAP New York festival.

Keegan occasionally gives brewery tours, and the brewery has live rock bands Thursday and Friday nights; acoustic music Saturdays; and jazz music Sundays - very rarely charging a cover.

 

Skytop Steakhouse and Brewing Co. 
237 Forest Hill Dr., Kingston, 845-340-4277

As the sister pub to the Hyde Park steakhouse, Skytop sometimes carries one or two of the same brews, but it also serves up some original beers in a space with eye-catching views of Kingston and the verdant Shawangunk Ridge.

The brew pub has the feel of a Catskill Mountain lodge or chalet, with a big open dining area under hardwood ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive granite-topped bar. There's also an outdoor cobblestone patio.

Aiden Michael's Amber Lager is the most popular brew - the ale yeast beer has a pleasing floral bouquet and malty taste (think Samuel Adams Boston Lager or George Killian's Irish Red). The Highland Diesel Scotch Ale is a reddish-amber ale with malty tones. If you've ever wanted to make an ice-cream float with a stout (or even if you've never considered it), you'll appreciate the Iron Mitts Irish Dry Stout, which has an espresso taste of roasted malts that stops just shy of being sweet in the finish.

Skytop's ample portions of Continental fare are quite tasty. The pub is also the home of the Brew HaHa, a comedy night that takes place one Friday every other month. Skytop also offers live entertainment and dancing Friday and Saturday nights.