THE CASK WHISPERER
Blog by Nigel Walsh
Day Trip: Beacon, NY
I had last popped into Beacon a little over nine years ago.
We had been visiting family in the area and as usual I had the urge to conduct a little research into nearby breweries and/or beer bars.
No breweries, but I stumbled over Draught Industries, a new (well it was then) craft beer bar at the eastern end of Main Street which appeared to have a very progressive tap list; that alone would have been interesting enough to draw my attention and attain my custom, but more importantly, it boasted two beer engines.
So of course I persuaded my long-suffering wife to take a wee detour (it really was a very wee detour, we were just south of the town) so that I could stop in and sample the wares; a Jacks Abby lager (of course it would be a lager) and a Carton APA, if I remember correctly.
Both beers were quite a long way from home (MA and NJ), but there were few local offerings in the area at that time, so I was very impressed that the pub had managed to snag them.
The beers were in excellent condition; Draught Industries knew what they were doing.
It has been ages since I had reason to pass through that particular part of the mid-Hudson valley, but I always kept an eye on the pub (via Beer Menus and Untappd), just in case, and like many pubs in many places around here, I noticed that over time, the cask offerings dwindled down to zero and (I am guessing here) at some point the handpumps were removed from the bar.
Eventually, the breweries started to arrive in Beacon, in fact I had just missed the first one Two Way Brewing by a week or two, and then Hudson Valley Brewery opened up barely two blocks from Draught Industries and Industrial Arts moved across the river from Haverstraw; finally, unbeknownst to me, the latest Pillow & Oats opened up on Main Street earlier this year.
The Craft Whisperer now has many options for a day out in Beacon, but I have no idea who he, or she, or they may be, so what’s in it for the Cask Whisperer?
Well, it turns out that the town (village?) of Glenham is right around the corner from Beacon, and maybe it always has been; mid-way between Beacon and Fishkill and just a mere 2.5-mile grueling walk if you have reason to go, which you probably don’t, yet.
If you have been following the Cask Whisperer lately, as I am sure you have, you will have noticed that I have been locating and downing several cask brews from Old Glenham Brewery at participating pubs in NYC, and mighty fine beers they have all been, a real taste of the old country.
So, I started to keep an eye on the source to see if they were available on cask closer to their home.
I had seen that they were on cask in Beacon in the Dogwood bar, but as soon as I found it, Dogwood closed, was then quickly bought, and it is currently undergoing renovation; hopefully it will return with the handpumps intact, and it would be nice if the hours were friendlier for visitors from NYC.
So, I looked back again to Draught Industries and was very happy to see that they had reinstalled one of the beer engines and was currently serving Old Glenham Best Bitter.
Day trip on!
Walk to Grand Central, 90-minute scenic rail trip along the Hudson River shoreline, half-day walking tour of the three breweries, a little sightseeing, and finishing off with a cask of best and some Mexican munchies; that was the plan, and I actually came pretty close to sticking with it.
The first adjustment came as soon as I stepped off the train at Beacon station and found no bathrooms, which wasn’t a big deal at the time, but I knew that I would be struggling on the way back.
I had thirty minutes to kill before any of the hostelries opened, so I explored the two parks on the river, for which we can apparently thank Pete Seeger.
Well, old Pete may have cleaned up the riverfront, but he forgot to install any restrooms, so I had to look elsewhere.
Luckily, Two Way Brewing was just across the tracks and five minutes up the hill towards the town itself; it was always going to be my first stop of the day, but now it looked like it would also be my last stop as well.
After scoping out the facilities, I parked myself at the bar and ordered a tasting flight which included a really good dry cider, and then got into an easy and enjoyable conversation with the bartender; so much so, that I ended up spending almost an hour there.
A very friendly place, and I made a note to drop by again on the way home, and not just for the men’s room.
It was starting to look like another adjustment would be needed, but once I had finished my climb up into the town and found myself at the west end of Main Street, I decided that I was going to try to keep to my planned route, if not my scheduled arrival and departure times.
That would involve walking about two and a half miles, through the entire town and out to the northeast in the direction of the aforementioned Glenham and Fishkill…
…where, just outside the Beacon town line I wandered into Industrial Arts for a quick one and had a leisurely two; an unnamed wet-hop IPA (taproom special?) and their session IPA, Pocket Wrench (note to self: track down cans back in NYC).
Another nice place, industrial chic but it also had a couple of dartboards, one of which was getting some serious use while I was there.
It was here that the bar manager gave me the nod about Pillow & Oats, which would cause another adjustment to my plans… at least it was on my route home, so it wouldn’t be much of an issue.
A short but sweet visit to Industrial Arts because it was time for my poor aching feet (uncomfortable sidewalks) to hike the mile and a half back into town, and to the Hudson Valley Brewery at the far east end of Main Street.
A lovely location in a big old industrial building between train tracks and the fast-running creek, so I was able to combine this visit with a little sightseeing… checked that off of my list, yay!
Some folks specialize in IPAs and others specialize in sours, but these folks seem to specialize in sour IPAs; a very classy place but so packed that I was obliged to stand at a small posing table for the duration.
I would certainly go back there when I next visit Beacon, the beer that I had was very interesting and very tasty, and I would like to sample some of their bottle pours next time. It sort of reminded me of Grimm in Brooklyn.
My feet were really cursing me at this point, but Draught Industries was only a couple of short blocks away and they were promising me taquitos and a cask, and hopefully a comfortable seat.
It was also crowded, but it is such a narrow space that it would be crowded with just a man and two dogs.
Fortunately, there were several open barstools at the back end of the bar, and I was able to park myself down and relax for a while… it would all be downhill from here.
The Old Glenham Best was absolutely delicious and the taquitos equally awesome; I had been told that they served up the best Mexican food in the area and I was told right. I would certainly consider returning just for the food alone.
I only had the one pint, because I still had a couple of stops to make on the way back to the station which was a good mile away at the other end of Main Street.
Pillow & Oats brewery was next and was just a couple of blocks away on the other side of the street; I stopped by for just a pint, a nice hazy IPA, which appears to be their specialty as all five beers that they had available were IPAs.
They are a brand-new brewery and I wish them all the best; their taproom is small but bright and airy, and their beer was very tasty.
I would have stayed to sample more if I wasn’t already looking for the station and home.
So, with twenty minutes to go before my train was due, I ducked back into Two Way to say hi and bye, to make use of the “station” bathroom, and to pick up a crowler of their mighty fine Peach Pineapple sour; I knew that I would have customers for it when I got back to NYC.
A short roll down the hill to the station, followed by a long but uneventful trip home, and the day was done.
This was a good day out and would make a good weekend/overnight trip as well, maybe when the winter has come and gone.
I would be content just to spend a little more time in the breweries, but I hear that there are good, if strenuous, hiking trails up into the hills and even some sort of Modern Art Space in the town for those who may be a little more cultured than myself.
Nine years is a long time between visits, way too long.
Scorecard w/e 11/28/23
In the past week, The Cask Whisperer has enjoyed the following casks:
- Dutchess GB (Ghost Beer) @ Jones Wood Foundry
- Strong Rope Growing Round @ Jones Wood Foundry
- Old Glenham Best Bitter @ Draught Industries
Upcoming Cask Festivals
4/10/2024 – 4/13/2024 (5 sessions): 25th Annual New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX)