Hudson Valley Brewery, a mid-level upstart, has the prowess of a business bound for broader horizons. Their beer—oftentimes pillowy, velvety or (on the occasion when its sour) almost more like Kombucha than beer—is consistently named among the best in the country.
The brand’s success thus far certainly pertains to the fact that beer doesn’t have to fit into any theoretical box. Other, stricter drinks—like wine or whiskey or champagne—require the final product to meet a long list of prerequisites in order to be given that title. Beer claims no final form, but three ingredients must be included in order to make your base: barley, water, yeast. The three form a wort which then, as it ferments, turns into beer—by consuming the starch sugars and, in turn, creating carbon dioxide and alcohol.
One final ingredient distinguishes most modern beers from the beer generations prior drank: hops. There are double-hopped, triple-hopped, dry-hopped, wet-hopped, beers hopped with multiple varietals, and more. People across the country will wait in line for hours to get their hands on specific breweries’ batches of a particular-hopped beer. As the haze-crazed try hundreds of repetitious beers, some breweries try to circumvent the haze and adhere to their own tastes.
Under the guidance of owner John Anthony Gargiulo, Hudson Valley is one of those. The beer they’re making, the way they’re rolling it out, and the permanence of their adjacent merchandise make them a prime candidate to outlast the bursting of the “bro-bubble” that beer is in right now.
At their brewing facility in Beacon, New York, a symphony of over 100 barrels lines the wall. One would wonder why the beer wouldn’t be better suited in two or three larger vessels. The simplest answer is that each of those beers isn’t destined for its own production or eventual release. Individual beers are brewed, with varying characteristics and flavor profiles, to eventually be blended together to reach an end goal—a process co-owners, and brewers, Mike Renganeschi and Jason Synan conceptualized in their earliest home-brew recipes.
In the past year, Hudson Valley has expanded from local distribution, to carry-out growlers, to can and bottle releases that have become destinations for beer fans. Part of that is their aesthetic. Hudson Valley’s cans, designed by Evan Cohen, are delicate displays of mural-like art—their hues, pastel and matted, are congruent with the lighthearted outside-of-the-city vibe. They’re a mere two hours north of New York City, but the beer travels well—which we found out when Synan pedaled a four-pack of the brewery’s newest release to our office.
“We believe the beers we create stand somewhere between the rural and the urban, the traditional and the modern, the rustic and the industrial,” Renganeschi says.
Anyone familiar with the brand probably won’t skip it if they see it on a draft list—or pass on trying if a friend opened a can. Their newest release, Demiurge, is a Double IPA in collaboration with Death and Company (NYC cocktail bar turned multi-city conglomerate) that is made with molasses, pineapple, lime, and almonds. It pours hazy—far from the translucent hues of Prohibition era lagers. The murky, juice-like liquid smells bright and citrusy. The tasting notes veer closer to a layered, tropical cocktail to be served on ice. Its smoothness is credited to the milk sugar, which sweetens the beer a bit and gives it a fuller body.
Previous Hudson Valley releases have featured beers with ingredients like vanilla, strawberries, passionfruit, mango and lychee purée, chamomile, lavender, marigold flowers, white and dark chocolate, and peppermint—to name a few. But, for those who know a thing or two about the meteoric rise of unusual and uncharacteristically-beer beers, Hudson Valley, especially in this newest release, shines like no other—and in their consistency, they seem ready for a cult-like following.
Images courtesy of Hudson Valley Brewery