If a single brewery has embraced the “new brewing” mentality, it’s Hudson Valley Brewery in Beacon, New York, which gives happy fans exactly what they want. Incredibly tasty sour IPAs, with some of the most carefully and beautifully designed labels in the business, announced on Instagram and doled out in an organized fashion from the brewery taproom in a weekend-warrior’s paradise. Want a successful brewery? Just replicate this formula.
Or is it that easy?
The secret sauce, other than the nuanced flavors that arise from one-of-a-kind recipes, is an artist’s appreciation for design. That’s instinct, something that can be grasped but not taught. Take the latest release, for example. The brewery released two canned beers, Bloom and Plumage, the former inspired by a chocolate covered cherry and the latter by the mint/grapefruit water in office of one of brewer Mike Renganeschi’s friends, a masseuse. The flavors are bright and fresh. The beers had complimentary labels designed by artistic genius and Hudson Valley local Evan Cohen.
That’s where most breweries stop. Tasty beer, neat labels. But Hudson Valley takes several more steps. They wanted their release to evoke a feeling of spring, so they stuck to a bright color palate, even commissioning a large banner with the “Bloom” can design that hung on the brewery’s outer wall. When they announced the release, they arranged the wall of cans in their Instagram photo so that the colors formed a cross, a subtle reminder that the release was taking place during Easter Weekend, the country’s most celebrated spring holiday. Even their secondary products, the sweatshirts and signed prints released along with the beer, reinforced the theme. The sand-colored crewneck looked like a natural medium from which the flowers in Bloom’s can design might arise.
Like Hudson Valley’s beer, each design choice has layers upon layers of nuance that harken back to a larger theme, and serve to reinforce the company’s brand. The blue-and-white cosmic design for Ultrasphere, a sour IPA with milk sugar, raspberries, and vanilla beans, and hopped with Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic powder, is chopped, screwed, and appropriated by Bloom, which reimagines the same design as a white-and-orange flower.
Hudson Valley Brewing isn’t a fad. They’re successful because they go deeper than anyone else. As so often happens when one sees a painting by Da Vinci, or reads the work of William Blake, he or she might not understand the level of thought and design that went into the final product, but it stirs some deeper emotional resonance, so he or she can still look at the work and say, “Wow, that’s pretty damn good.”
Shoutout to Hudson Valley Brewing, and to all the fellow idiots who stood in line with me on Saturday.