Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peekskill is Beerville

This little town, 40 miles north of NYC and just about an hour ride on the Metro North Train, has a couple of the hottest craft beer houses in the metro area.  The Peekskill brewery is across the street from the train station with a view of the Hudson River.  I happened to walk in with a software developer named Ken Johnson, who is developing an iphone app called Brew View that is scheduled to launch in October .  He intends to log all the craft beers made in the North East and superimpose them on a map so beer lovers can find their favorite beer with a tap of the screen.  

Ken ended up joining our group from the Tristate Beer Lovers Meetup .  I had called the owner, Kara Berardi, to arrange for a food pairing for our group.  We settled on a menu of a flight of four beers, one pint of our favorite, an appetizer, entre and desert for $40.  Kara was off, but her husband Keith and waitress Kate met our needs to the fullest.
The most memorable brews of the flight were a vanilla bourbon stout and a Belgian Golden Ale called Rosemary’s Baby.  The stout was delicious and strong, a little too strong for my taste.  The Ale was just right with just a hint of rosemary at the finish.

Our group shared nachos, sliders and a rarity, deviled eggs, for our appetizers.  I had the fish and chips for my entre and was too full to finish it or indulge in desert.  The bar was packed throughout our entire stay and a walk down a long hallway took me to a dining area that was just as busy.

About a mile away on nearby Main Street sits the Birdsall House.  I had read a review that raved about the bacon ice cream and could not stay away.  First the beer:  they have about 20 taps, serving many New York beers.  I ordered a flight of five 5 oz. beers for $12. 
 Working from lightest to heaviest: Sixpoint Brevity Witbier (4.9% ABV) was light in color and taste, Empire Cream Ale (5.2) was creamy and smooth but left me a little flat, Capt. Lawrence Freshchester Pale Ale (5.6) had a citricy start and nice bitter finish, Sixpoint Signal Smoked IPA (6.0) was like tasting a nice smoked cheese, and Stone 15th Anniversary Black IPA had tons of chocolaty flavor and a whopping  ABV of 10.8.   I like to support the local brews out of principle, but the Freshchester, made about 10 minutes away in Pleasantville, was simply just the best of the bunch.  It’s bitterness held up well to my spicy meal.
I went with the pulled pork nachos which were covered in shaved apple slaw and cream cheese.  The blue corn tortillas stayed crunchy under the mound of BBQ sauce and pork.  The nachos had the same dichotomy of tastes, sweet and spicy that make the Freshchester IPA so compelling.  Bacon and ice cream sounds like a bit of a mismatch but, take my word for it, they mesh well in this desert served over waffles covered with candied Pecans.
The owner, Tim Reinke, sat with me a while and spoke about his long time commitment to the craft beer movement.  He has been part owner of The Blind Tiger, a craft beer mecca in The Village, since 1996.  Tim lives nearby and wanted to open a place closer to his growing family so he chose Peekskill.  He tries to support his neighbors by using local ingredients whenever possible.  My pork came from pigs raised at nearby Hemlock Hills Farms which are fed the spent grain from Capt. Lawrence Brewery.  Talk about closing the loop.  He also tries to keep at least half of his taps occupied by New York brews.  Tim’s long standing relationship with brewers around the country put Birdsall on the short list for hard to find beers like Delaware's Dogfish Head 120 and Bear Republic Mach 10 brewed in Sonoma County, California.
As a Rockland County resident, it’s nice to know that such great craft beers can be found just a stones throw from the Bear Mountain Bridge.  Birdsall House and The Peekskill Brewery are surely putting this little town on the craft beer map.


  1. Peekskill Rocks! A client (I'm a realtor) just passed this post onto me, and I will pass it on as well. Both places have awesome beer and food, and Peekskill as a whole has so much to offer,history, music, awesome people and the Yellow Brick Road!
    I write about Peekskill often in my blog, come on by and take a look!

  2. Mike-TristateBeerBlogSeptember 23, 2011 at 6:54 AM

    I agree, Suzanne, that Peekskill Rocks. I've seen several concerts at The Paramount Center. I will check out your blog soon.