Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nano-Tales: Interview With Sloop Brewing (Poughkeepsie, NY)

Adam Watson (far left) and Justin Taylor (by kettles), co-owners of Sloop Brewing.

Sloop Brewing
Poughkeepsie, NY

New York state was once, long ago, a beer mecca. New York City alone was home to dozens of breweries, and the rest of the state became the hop-growing capital of American. But for the last couple decades, it would have been hard to imagine New York like that. The City hasn't experienced the brewery/brewpub boom that other metropolises — Denver, Portland, San Diego, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. —all received, probably because the rent is too damn high. But lately, it's not hard to imagine a near future where one could hop onto a Metro North train and spend a weekend doing nothing but brewery hopping around the gorgeous lower half of our state. In the first half of 2012 alone, at least three new breweries opened shop in the Hudson Valley, while old favorites like Captain Lawrence and Peekskill Brewery undertook dramatic expansions.

One of the newest (and almost certainly the smallest) to join our state's growing ranks of craft beer producers is Sloop Brewing, based in Poughkeepsie, NY. Brewing on a 20 gallon system and selling — for the moment — only at local farmer's markets, they're closer to homebrewers than they are to Sierra Nevada. But that's no hinderance to them producing unique, experimental beers: their lineup at the moment is composed of an English Pale Ale, a red IPA, a Belgian black IPA, and a berliner weisse with peach. And they're all delicious.

Justin Taylor and Adam Watson, co-owners of Sloop Brewing, were recently kind enough to talk to me about their beer and their brewery.

The Red C IPA, Olde World Pale Ale, and Sauer Peach

BFA: Can you start out by telling us a bit about yourselves, and your backgrounds as brewers? How did you decide to "go pro"?  

Sloop Brewing: We started as home brewers. We wanted to share our beer with a broader audience while attempting to create more and more creative beers.

BFA: What do you believe your beer brings to the area that's new and exciting? How did Sloop get its "identity," and what is that identity? 

SB: Our goal is to not brew to a style; we want to create something new by either combining styles or trying new methods to reach the desired product. We want to create something new and allow people to broaden their appreciation of this craft. 

BFA: Why did you settle on the recipes that you did (English Pale Ale, Red IPA, Belgian Black IPA, Sauer Peach Berliner Weisse) for Sloop's original line-up?  

We believe that The Olde World Pale Ale can be a gateway beer. Its our most approachable beer but it has full flavors and mouthfeel. The Red C is a red IPA loaded with hop flavor and aromas with less bitterness that a typical IPA, and with significant malt flavors to balance the hops. The Black C hop profile is similar to the Red C, though using different hop varieties. But it's fermented with a Belgian yeast, and it's black. We — and I think we're not alone in this — love hops. So two IPAs are appropriate, but neither are simply an IPA, they are unique, and well balanced, not overly hoppy or malty.

We also love sour beers — there will be more of these in the future. Wild yeast and bacteria can add such a complex flavor profile to a beer and this is underutilized in American brewing. And peaches taste awesome!

BFA: How would you describe the Hudson Valley's relationship with beer at the moment, and how do you see that changing in the future? 

I think the Hudson Valley is consistent with the rest of the country in that more and more people are demanding creativity and uniqueness in what beer they are drinking. People are done with drinking the same beers all the time. I think we will see more and more small breweries popping up to fill this need. This will create a diverse market that will fulfill every craft beer lover's dreams. This is also consistent with the eat / drink local movement that we see in this country. We can now enjoy local, fresh beer, brewed as a craft, that is not just the same old light lager.

BFA: How did you create the brewery space, and what challenges were involved in building it or setting it up?

Space is our main enemy. We have close to none and we make do with what we have.

BFA: Can you talk about what equipment you use? Boil kettle, fermentation tanks, bottling equipment, etc. 

We are on a 20 gallon system now that’s made up of stainless steal pots, using pumps and a herms coil. Soon we are moving to a 45 gallon system. We will be fermenting in 110 gal plastic conicals and we're getting two brite tanks. 

BFA: Do you have plans to keg and distribute to draft accounts? 

Yes, once we can afford a keg cleaner.

BFA: What other plans do you have for the future? What beers can we expect in the Sloop Brewing line-up in 2013 and beyond?

We will be in select craft beer stores and bars by the end of this year, and we would love to get a tasting room in the future.

BFA: What are some of the most encouraging encounters you've had while introducing people to your beer?

Me: What do you usually drink?
Costumer: Bud Light.
Me: This is a European style pale ale.
Costumer: Holy shit, this is great. I didn’t know beer could taste like this. 

You can find Sloop Brewing — and purchase bottles of their fresh, locally brewed beer — at the Poughkeepsie farmer's market in Pulaski Park, Fridays from 2 - 6 pm, and at the Beacon farmer's market (located next to the train station) on Sundays from 10 - 3 pm.


  1. Hi Adam, met you in Beacon. Am loving the Sauer Peach, man, and hope you guys do well!


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