Surpassing its humble promise of being an “artisanal small-batch brewery inspired by food, fruits and spices” after taking its inspirational spirit from Peru’s magnificent Andes Mountains (where its branded Kuka reference translates to “food for working travelers”), ANDEAN BREWING opened its taproom during the summer of 2013 (and closed during 2020).
Quickly developing a bottling line for their unique maca-rooted beers (such as the ever-popular Kuka Banana Nut Brown Ale), entrepreneurial Manhattanite, Andria Petito, a super-fan of Widmer Hefeweizen in the ’90s, expanded her palate over the course of time.
Meanwhile, current brewmaster, Alex Coronado, worked four years at Rochester’s CB Craft Brewers before joining Andean in 2015. A graduate of Fredonia State University’s arts and music department, Coronado and his ex-girlfriend became interested in home brewing post-haste.
Stationed in the light Industrial hamlet of Blauvelt, 25 miles north of New York City, Andean’s Kuka beer lineup benefited from its early reliance on the maca root, giving flagship staples like Kuka American Pale Ale, IPA and Belgian Blonde a delicately sweet chestnut-derived whim. Inside a tidy 6,500 square foot warehouse with high aluminum ceiling and plenty of space for expansion, Andean currently utilizes four fermenters and one bottling line.
On my early January ’16 visit, Coronado’s working with the mash tun for a limited edition 8-gallon pale ale while rock music blasts thru the cavernous brew room. An L-shaped bar (with lacquered table-top beer labels) in the gray-walled tap room provides local denizens with four different tapped brews. Some law school students share home brews as Petito tends bar, fills growlers and sells several bottled brews from the refrigerator.
I get two previously untried dark ales (reviewed fully in Beer Index) on tap while the crowd shuffles in. Lightly fermented on oak chips, Kuka White Chocolate Stout delights the senses as its spicy cocoa-nibbed brown and white chocolate sweetness serenades subtle vanilla, cinnamon, marshmallow and creamy caramel flam illusions.
Better yet, diabolical Kuka Devils Treat Imperial Milk Stout thrills tastebuds with richly creamed chocolate milking, recessive black coffee scurry, mild cayenne-peppered burn, cherry-pureed banana bruise, sticky anise trifle, wispy burgundy wining and oats-flaked maca root base.
During a hot June evening in 2017, returned to Andean to try two adjunct fruited saisons and one fabulous IPA.
Easygoing sparkling wine or summer shandy alternative, Blackberry Pretty Colored Marbles Saison, brought tart blackberry souring to delicate Sterling hops and dry wheat malts, picking up oaken cherry, cranberry and boysenberry nuances. Nearly as likable, correlative Pineapple Saison offered subtle pineapple tartness and zestier tropicalia.
Delectably sacrilicious Lick The Mind Of God IPA plied brisk pineapple, grapefruit, orange and peach tanginess to moderate piney hop bittering and crystal pale malting with crisp, clean clarity.