When Jeff O’Neil was planning to open Industrial Arts Brewing Company four years ago, his first location choice wasn’t Garnerville. It was Beacon. He had a site in mind, but he couldn’t negotiate the right deal. Instead, he set up shop in the historic Garnerville Arts and Industrial Center in Rockland County. And he has no regrets. “We are lucky to have such a funky, cool place here,” he says. “But this is only part of our story moving forward.”
Chapter two of that story has now come to Beacon, where O’Neil opened his new production center and tasting space in August. Industrial Arts is leasing a 150,000 sq ft facility off of Route 52, near The Lofts at Beacon. The new space features a tasting room with outdoor seating, beer to-go, and food trucks. In 2020, he plans to open an events center, several private party spaces, a distribution center, and a production brewery capable of turning out more than 50,000 barrels a year, about three times what he produces in Garnerville.
Why Beacon? “We saw and still see an opportunity here for what we do, to thrive in that vibrant market,” he says. With 2 Way Brewing Company and Hudson Valley Brewery already established there, Beacon has now become a three-headed monster of a beer destination, and, with all of the other breweries on that side of the river, makes for “a really cool progression [of breweries] virtually on the same road. We think it will be a cool way to drive tourism to the region,” he says. Beacon is also easier to get to for O’Neil, who lives with his family in Cold Spring.
Why now? “We are growing faster than we contemplated in our business plan. We can see maxing out our original facility,” he explains. Much of his success is due to his most popular brew, Wrench IPA. “We plan to move that brand to the new site to feed the thirsty demand for it and establish it in the entire tri-state area,” he says. The new space features loading docks, space for large refrigerators and other amenities. “We face some logistical challenges in the original location — a 200-year-old factory rather than a 10-year-old factory,” he says. At Garnerville, they will do more small-batch, “R&D” brewing.
Other breweries in the Valley have expanded to bigger or second locations recently — namely, Crossroads, which is in Athens and Catskill. Has the region’s brewing scene reached the “grow-or-die” stage? Not necessarily, O’Neil says. “Everybody’s business model is different.” Many breweries can still survive and thrive as small, community businesses. “For us, it’s a function of our still-growing New York City market,” he says, and his desire to push Wrench into that and other areas.
The Beacon location will jump on the region’s growing arts and hospitality bandwagon, as well. He plans to host film series, live music and arts installations, as well as weddings and more in his event spaces, some of which boast lovely views.
“This is a pivot for us,” O’Neil says, “to take advantage of what we have done and complement that with a bigger manufacturing and distribution center and also a great programming and public space.”