PEEKSKILL, NEW YORK
Across Hudson River railroad station, first visited PEEKSKILL BREWING COMPANY with wife, Valentine’s Day, 2009. A fine German-American-styled restaurant with great bottled-tapped beer selection and a few homemade elixirs, its original two front dining areas were separate from the narrow back bar (with side tables, mounted TV’s, copper tile ceiling, and jukebox). By late 2012, the brewery would move across the street to a better location.
Original brewer, Neill Acer (formerly of defunct West Side Brewery and Ramapo Brewpub), was the stabilizing force from the beginning until his departure in 2011. A veteran zymurgist, Acer split time between Peekskill and Pearl River’s Defiant Brewing (where he still reigns supreme). During ’11, experienced craftsman Jeff O’Neill was hired from Ithaca Brewery to assume the role of head brewer (until O’Neill took the post as Industrial Art’s head brewer circa 2016).
During December ’12, Peekskill Brewing began operations at its current freestanding brown-and-tan four-storey building just down the road equidistance between Peekskill Landing Park and Riverfront Green Park. A larger and more uniform Industrial setting with a roomy umbrella-tabled side deck, the ground level tap room features a luxurious bar (with Beer List, TV, dartboard, exposed black ducts and side-walled brewing methodology), stainless steel brewing vats and several wood-barreled tables along the front window. A minimalist balcony level dining area with smaller bar provides a beautiful Hudson River view. Rooftop dining will hopefully be readied by 2014.
Upon my August ’13 two-hour stopover, I gain access through the side entrance and sit at the left corner of the bar to quaff four previously untried beers and one revisited sour ale. FYI: Guest taps on this day include the increasingly popular Allagash White, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Great Divide Hoss, Lagunitas WTF, Ommegang Rare Vos and Southern Tier Live.
To start my session, dry-bodied Skills Pils crossed musky Czech-German-styled cereal graining with wood-lacquered resinous herbal hop oiling and tart lemon-pitted souring for a robust pale-toned pilsner that nicely countered approachable Gose-like Berliner Weiss, Simple Sour. Its efficient wheat, corn and millet influence underlied vinous white grape esters, salty coriander spicing, tart mango-guava tropicalia and leathery oaken cherry.
Another bone-dry concoction, soft-watered Farmhouse-styled saison Flavor Savor, brought subtle pear and quince illusions to white-peppered herbs and wafting hibiscus, dandelion, daisy and rose pedal florality, picking up a musty earthen dewiness along the way.
Next up, PB DRye Irish Stout layered black chocolate tartness, chalky cocoa acridity and coffee bean bittering above ashen-hopped flaked rye malting for a superb mocha dessert treat.
Best bet: complex 10% alcohol-fueled Imperial Stout, Vaporizer. Its dark chocolate roast, syrupy molasses sapping, careening vanilla creaming and mild espresso whim sat atop oats-sugared maple malts and hop-charred bittering as ancillary blackberry, bourbon, brandy and licorice illusions gently recede.
By the time I left Peekskill this sunny Sunday afternoon, a local Jazz band had taken the makeshift outdoor stage to entertain the diversified patronage.
On my original February ’09 sojourn, windowed brew tanks served Paramount Pale Ale, a raw wheat-grained orange-soured prune-dried carrot-cooked lacquer-like dry body with pink grapefruit subtlety. After chili, vegetable wrap, and Caesar salad, I enjoyed hop-charred oats-seared molasses-malted Peekskill Vanilla Bourbon Stout, a robust bitter hedging creamy brown chocolate, oaken vanilla, chalky cocoa, and black cherry sweetness against charcoal-singed anise, tar, and tobacco chew illusions.
Upon hot August night in ’09, wife and I tried Yeah Peaches!, a Belgian-styled moderate body with raw-honeyed sour lemon-candied tartness overwhelming miniscule white peach tartness and peppery-hopped lemongrass spicing.
On May ’10 two-hour haunt, tried sharp hop-spiced grapefruit-soured orange-candied Peekskill Old Wagon Ale, an alcohol-burnt ‘old ale’ with minor wood tones, dainty apricot-peach illusions, and creamy caramel malting. Peekskill Sally Sweeney Oatmeal Raisin Stout placed soft-watered black chocolate creaminess above coffee-roasted hop-charred cola, hazelnut, macadamia, and walnut illusions, but latent oats-smoked raisin-pureed sourness languishes.
July, 2010, alongside pork quesadillas at happy hour, quaffed two more engaging libations. Boisterous peppery hop prickle invades novel rosemary-thyme herbage and orange-peeled lemon zest of offbeat Rosemary’s Baby Belgian Golden Ale. Sharp hop-bitten lemon-seeded orange-peeled juniper bittering overrides expectant banana souring, unripe peach-apple wisp, and herbal-spiced snip of spunky Hudson Hefeweizen.
One day prior to Peekskill Brewery’s second anniversary party, October, 2010, enjoyed two fine new-fashioned libations. IPA-like wood-lacquered fruiting consumed creamy caramel-malted Beecher’s Barleywine, a heady alcohol-astringent full body boasting ripe peach-pear-apple-raspberry bluster over chestnut-hazelnut whim to juniper-embittered backend. Nearly as good, citric-soured Dunderberg Dunkelweizen brought fig-dried date-sugared orange compote and clove-spiced banana browning to dry earthen fungi yeast panoply.
Got to hang out with friend, Dennis Flubacher, and 29-year-old Peekskill Brewery owner, Keith Berardi, Thanksgiving Eve, 2010. Enjoyed plate of nachos while consuming two undiscovered treasures, one of which is a Garam masala-spiced seasonal in its second year, and the other, a newfangled concoction named after our red-haired bartender.
Creamy brown-sugared chocolate-spiced vanilla-coarsened Cha Cha Chai Brown Ale brought green-hopped chai tea bittering to cinnamon-toasted peanut-shelled praline-walnut-hazelnut niche and floral hibiscus nuance. Saison-styled Rye’s Red yielded soft-hopped sour-fruited apple-molded clementine orange tartness to rye-breaded caraway-fennel midst.
New brewer Jeff O’Neil came aboard to replace Acer in 2012. By June, I’d resurfaced at Peekskill to try three easygoing newfangled summer ales.
A hoppy wheat ale, Daywalker had a soft-toned light body spreading lemony grapefruit peel zest all over Band Aid-wafted white peppering and fizzy salted spicing. Approachable Eastern Standard IPA brought its mild woody hop bittering to a citric spiced easement, where orange-peeled grapefruit, apricot, pear and apple illusions reside. Less impressive, light-bodied Zeitgeist Berliner placed sour lemony orange tartness over subtle resin hop bitterness.
Sometimes a change has gotta come. The awkwardly disconnected U-shaped interior of the bygone Peekskill Brewery cannot match the new digs. So I decided to visit the original Peekskill Brewery one last time, November ’12, before the pub moved down the street to its new four-floor building.
My friend Dennis and I got there for the ever-popular Hudson Valley Restaurant Week and got served not only two fine new beers but also a delicious $29 price-fixed three-course meal that couldn’t be beat.
For a light-bodied straightforward opener, I re-tried the totally sessionable Eastern Standard. Its polite grapefruit entry receivedmild floral hop acridity and sweet candied malting atop a paltry white-breaded spine. Then, I got an order of 12 meaty oysters vineagrette ($12 at Happy Hour) before proceeding to a newly rendered tropical-fruited elixir.
Sourly citric Saison-like Malibu Mango gathered mango, green grape esters, guava, passion fruit, kiwi and strawberry illusions above astringent hop bittering and raw-honeyed malt buttering.
Our three-course meal then took center stage. I had the duck-fatty ground swine Pork Rillette (with grilled bread and grain mustard as an appetizer). Next, delectable Hemlock Hills Maple & Black Pepper Chicken featured a sugary glaze that moistened the roasted bird alongside sauteed kale spinach and mashed potatos. And for dessert, I enjoyed Apple Calvados with whipped cream.
Meanwhile, Dennis got the Neuske Bacon Soup (a creamy meat-chunked parsnip-tinged appetizer) and filling Pork Belly (with salsa verde, lentils and roasted carrots). For dessert, he went with the rich Chocolate Seasalt Tart (with toffee and whipped cream).
For a nightcap, we settled on Nightwalker Dark Wheat Ale. Its toasted caramel malting and dark hop spicing led the way for a simmering peppercorn-chipotle peppering enhanced by a faux Band-aid-like beechwood smoking.
On tap at Jimmy’s No. 43, found Peekskill Simple Sour. Its sour lemon-juiced carbolic spritz embraced lactic brettanomyces musk above rustic corn-dried chaffed wheat. Tertiary vinous grape, mandarin orange and lemon rind illusions received earthen hay, horseblanket and leather acridity.
In town to try some newfangled sour ales and one fine stout, July ’17, got to hang out with friend Phil at the wooden side patio.
Summery Cascade dry-hopped Hidden Track brought silken lemon zest, grapefruit pith bittering and tart green grape esters to musky earthiness with low acidity.
Pink guava-infused Pinky Up retained its dry-hopped brettanomyces souring for saison yeast-draped passionfruit and kiwi tartness plus vinous white grape pucker.
Lambic-styled spontaneous fermenter, LemPBeek conveyed mildly fungi herbal lemondrop piquancy and mustard-soured yellow grape esters.
On the dark side, relaxing medium-roast Ethiopian peaberry coffee beans and chicory define To The Moon Stout, a Brooklyn Brewery collaboration with black chocolate and dark cocoa undertones reinforcing its bittersweet java theme.
Following Albany trip in August ’18, quaffed dry pale-malted King Bee Lager (a collaboration with Poughkeepsie’s Plan Bee Farm Brewery), a raw-honeyed moderation with corn-grained herbal grassiness and mild lemon souring.
Then, charcoal-stained Cinder Imperial Stout spread molasses-sapped black chocolate syrup atop bittersweet burgundy, raisin and fig dried-fruiting as mild hop-charred bittering ensued.