Saturday morning, Hop Culture Managing Editor Travis Smith and I bought $35 round-trip train tickets from Manhattan to Beacon, New York. After an hour and a half or so on the Metro North, we walked a mile to Hudson Valley Brewery, where we stood in line and waited for the release of Ultrasphere, a 6 percent sour IPA made with milk sugar, raspberries, and vanilla beans.
While waiting, Travis and I discussed the possibility of continuing up the Hudson River to Plan Bee, a farm brewery in Poughkeepsie, or maybe even heading west to Equilibrium. The Hudson Valley has so many incredible breweries —
Industrial Arts Brewing, Hudson Valley Brewery, Plan Bee Farm Brewery, Suarez Family Brewery, Sloop Brewing Co., and Equilibrium Brewery — and we wanted to visit them all. Only, we could barely fit the spoils from Hudson Valley into our backpacks, much less additional beer. And although Equilibrium felt so close, there was no train service from Beacon to Middletown, and Ubers were $55 each way. We didn’t bother checking into how we might get to Suarez or Sloop, another 50 miles north.
Few things are more heartbreaking to a beer fan than being within a stone’s throw of an amazing brewery and leaving it unvisited. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. After $55 dollars each ($35 for the train ticket, $10 for lunch, and $10 for the Uber from Hudson Valley back to the train station) — not to mention an entire day, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM —
we’d only managed to visit one of the many spots on our list.
There has to be a better way of doing this. I can’t imagine Travis and I are the only two people from New York City interested in visiting several of the Hudson Valley breweries. Few places in the country have such a wealth of quality beer, and yet without a car, it’s difficult to see more than one or two.
While working at Gear Patrol Magazine, Travis had the opportunity to write about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and he brought it up as a compelling case study. Kentucky has so many great distilleries, but it wasn’t until 1999 that the Kentucky Distillers’ Association linked them together in a formalized “trail.” Suddenly, the participating members became much more accessible to consumers, which boosted tourism and spurred the region’s economy.
Over a few beers, we hashed out a concept for the Bourbon Trail equivalent of Hudson Valley’s craft beer scene. In our minds, it took the form of a weekend van service that would bring beer fans from an easy-to-reach spot in Manhattan or Brooklyn (As Is NYC? Threes Brewing? Hop Culture HQ?) to some of the best spots in the Hudson Valley. Vans could either move in a loop with a set timetable, or it could be structured more like a traditional “beer tour,” where you’d stay with one driver the entire day.
One of the reasons we started Hop Culture was to make independent craft beer more accessible, and a van that opens up the Hudson Valley to beer fans fits our ethos. You bring the playlist; we’ll get you where you need to go. Shoot us an email at hello [at] hopculture.com if you have thoughts on a potential Hop Culture Mobile. We’d love to hear from you.
Stay strong, stay true, stay fresh, stay fly,
Editor in Chief
What We’re Reading
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else… Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
— Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse