FLORIDA, NEW YORK
Inside an inconspicuous large grey shed behind a car wash in the rustic village of Florida, New York, GLENMERE BREWING COMPANY came into existence during July ’16. Located within a few miles of Warwick beer pub haven, Eddie’s Roadhouse, and respected garden center, Pennings Farm, Glenmere’s reliable logo “Elements Of The Craft” represents co-owner/brewmaster Michael Sandor’s sound philosophy of proving ’the hallmark of all beer should be good drinkability and likability,’ preferably from locally sourced ingredients.
A lifelong local Orange County native, Sandor became active in the homebrew community and judged brewing competitions before starting his own business plan with partner Fred Mehler. Some of his favorite stylistic offerings are Imperial Stouts, German Lagers and dunkelweizens.
Although there’s too much random beer info online these days, he still appreciates reading (now-deceased) premier beer enthusiast Michael Jackson’s stuff. Not wanting to get stuck making only flagship beers from his pristine stainless steel 15 barrel system, Sandor prefers to allow a ‘nice rotation’ of diverse brews to gain exposure with the local denizens now populating Glenmere’s barrel-topped bench and stool tasting room.
“The area was changing and people’s tastes were also changing,” Sandor confides as he pours four goblet samplers for me this cold February ’16 Saturday afternoon. “Millenials always want the next thing. But it’s challenging. 70% of what they purchase is stuff they never had before. Most recipes are developed, then there are adjustments. But ultimately, it’s worked in our favor. We’re always onto something else.”
Presently, Glenmere’s fermenting an English Style Strong Ale as well as readying a smoked porter and a stout. As of February ’17, they are self-distributing within New York State.
Sandor says, “Because there are so many India Pale Ales available, I haven’t concentrated on that style. A large percent of the craft beer market are IPA’s and seasonals. Once people get past the bitterness, they build a comfort level for IPA’s. It’s my favorite hangover style for the morning after.”
Nevertheless, one of Glenmere’s finest offerings, Lucid Dragon, is a robust IPA loading lemony orange-peeled grapefruit, pineapple, mango, tangerine, peach and guava tropicalia as well as subtle sugar spicing atop biscuity Maris Otter malts, leaving a mildly dank piney hop bittering upon the zesty fruitful finish.
Softer palates will appreciate The S.A.G.A. Amber Ale, a classic well-balanced moderation with a sprinkling of tangy IPA-like fruiting (grapefruit, orange, mango, pineapple, tangerine, clementine) atop woody dry-hopped bittering and caramel-spiced malting.
Perhaps Glenmere’s most admired brew yet, boldly dark-roasted Pennings Brown Ale, provides a nutty chocolate decadence so undeniable it won a Gold Medal in Portland, Oregon’s Craft Beer Show.
My personal fave may’ve been richly resilient Wicked Witch Stout, where dark-roasted cola-walnut-hazelnut overtones and black chocolate syruping gain ‘deciduous black raspberry’ rasps along with pureed blackberry, strawberry and blueberry subsidies.
It’s also worth mentioning the live acoustic showcases that take place once in awhile.
The New York landscape for brewers has never been better. And Glenmere’s entrepreneurial mavens prove there’s still room for more growth. Cheers!