In the backside of a mini-mall on Route 9, Hudson Valley-based NORTH RIVER HOPS AND BREWING has become a successful ‘mom and pop’ shop since opening, August 2014 (but it unfortunately closed June 2018).

Brewmaster Brandin Stabell (residential electrician by trade), his wife Nicki (ex-roller derby player), and father-in-law, Kevin, conceived this friendly neighborhood pub after Brandin received a brew kit and played around with different recipes. Though expansion may be inevitable, presently the wood-furnished, terra cotta-walled, cement-floored sample room features three bar stools, three window seats and several small brew tanks.

Upon my first visit in June ’15, the affable family biz has already crafted thirty-plus small batch beers. There are ten varied selections available during my enjoyable one-hour sojourn. Running the gamut from light American-styled delights to wood-smoked dark ales and Belgian-inspired derivations, North River recently began distributing their diverse suds to respected Rockland County gastropub, Craft House.

“I like English-styled beers and hop-forward bitters, but complexity and balance should be right for a continuously drinkable beer,” asserts Brandin.

I grab a few sampler trays and begin quaffing three fine red ales made from the same recipe originally created for malt-roasted Hoppy Red Ale, a caramel-spiced medium body with sharp citrus-hopped bite, mild dried fruiting and floral nuances. Delicate whiskey-staved Aged Hoppy Red brought soft vanilla spicing to polite raisin-plum-date subtleties while Belgian crystal malt sugaring gave Belgian IRA (Imperial Red Ale) its caramelized dried fruiting (plum-date-raisin)and light pecan nuttiness to contrast raw-honeyed bittering.

Sessionable soft-watered XTRA allowed subtle honey malts to heighten its Galaxy-hopped tropical fruiting and navel orange tang (countering the wood-dried Columbus hop sharpness). Similarly moderate-bodied, BLM Session Amber Ale gathered malt-smoked toasted biscuit breading, dewy earthen rusticity and citric-pined niceties. Another soft-toned winner, white wheat-breaded Tarwe tingled the tongue with hefeweiss-styled lemony banana and clove subtleties.

Sweet citric-spiced sugaring bedecked Paddle Steamer, an easygoing Cascade-Centennial-Magnum-hopped IPA with lemony orange overtones. Just as relaxing, Maple & Whiskey IPA seeped light wheat whiskey wisps into subtle maple-malted berry and citrus fruiting.

On the dark side, soft-toned Robust Porter brought smoked wood tones to cocoa-sugared brown chocolate sweetness, peat-soiled dried fruiting and dry burgundy whims.

Easily the most unique elixir on this humid afternoon, Wheat Wine uncommonly combined kiln-grained rauchbier smoke with honeyed Graham Cracker sugaring and fruit-candied malt spicing.

In October 2015 at Craft House, downed complex dry-bodied North  River Tea IPA, where smoothly sharp citric hop astringency gained black tea-influenced yellow grapefruit briskness, orange rind bittering and plummy passionfruit whims to contrast softer nectarine and peach illusions.

During November 2015 at Craft House, enjoyed North River Oktoberfest, a mild off-dry autumnal moderation contrasting honey-creamed amber graining and light brown-sugar spicing against pine-nutted leafy hop foliage.

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