Kingston Standard Brewing Co. is the type of place you never want to leave.
One visit is all it takes to understand the appeal. From the moment guests step through the door at 22 Jansen Avenue, they’re welcomed by soft white brick walls, glowing industrial lights, and picnic table vibes. At the bar, a select draft list lounges alongside a streamlined menu, tempting visitors with saisons and lobster rolls.
Outside, a softly tented patio is an open reprieve in the summer months, inviting locals to drift in after work or lounge for hours with friends on lazy weekend afternoons. It’s an easy place to be, and one that doesn’t try too hard or do too much. When you have a good thing after all, why mess with it?
That’s what Tait Simpson would like to believe. As one of the founders of Kingston Standard, he wants to create a true community watering hole – with really great beer – in the heart of the Hudson Valley city he calls home. Although he’s a happy head brewer now, he didn’t start out on the beer-making track. In fact, his first introduction to beer was via sourdough bread baking 12 years ago.
“I started as a home brewer, fermenting beer with the same yeast that I was cultivating for sourdough bread production,” he says. After falling victim to the lure of the fermentation process, he cut his teeth at Arrowood Farm Brewery in Accord before breaking off to start his own business.
A collaborative endeavor, Kingston Standard came to life organically as Simpson and co-founder Kyle Needham fostered their connections with the City of Kingston. Both local residents, the two joined up with their third co-founder Matt Owens to design a brewery in the heart of Ulster County. To do so, the innovators combined the skills from their respective backgrounds: Simpson as a brewer, Needham as the entrepreneur behind Oyster Party catering company, and Owens as a creative and project lead at Athletics branding agency.
“As independent creatives and entrepreneurs, we feel strongly that developing a local business that brings people together to share experiences was something that Kingston’s community would value and appreciate,” notes Simpson. “It was as much about building something new as [it was] building something that others would connect with.”
Although the concept for the brewery came easily enough, the journey from ideation to completion wasn’t so cut and dry. From start to finish, the project took about three years, from the point when the trio purchased the building in 2016, to transform the space and define exactly what Kingston Standard Brewing Co. would be. When the group bought the property, it was far from the inviting, minimalistic setting it is now. Three years ago, it was a functioning, albeit tired transmission shop that was not at all outfitted to serve beer.
After taking it over from the owner, who was ready to retire, the friends slowly but surely mapped out the renovation via conference calls and lots and lots of lists. As they built their brewery and tasting room from next to nothing, they taste-tested recipes to figure out which brews and dishes they wanted to serve onsite.
On Memorial Day, Kingston Standard Brewing Co. opened in the Hudson Valley. Led by the three co-founders, the brewery serves homebrewed, small-batch beer alongside New York wine and cider. Like the drink menu, the food is refreshingly simple and pared down to a handful (read: two or three) of dishes that make the most of seasonal flavors.
“We focus on quality, simplicity, and classic brews that have stood the test of time,” Simpson explains. “We use local malt and are constantly responding to the feedback of the community. The history of NY has always been about the people, and that is who we are here to serve.”
Like many small-scale breweries, Kingston Standard uses a one-barrel electric brewhouse to mash its malted barley and wheat, then steeps it, hops it up, and ferments it in either a tank or oak barrel. Although the brewery itself is open for business, the beers are still undergoing recipe development as the founders evolve and perfect the distinct flavor notes.
On any given week, visitors could sip a #5 Brett IPA, then return for that same beer in its #6 rendition. Customers are welcome to provide feedback, which Simpson and team hope to use to enrich their offerings in the future.
On the food front, Needham’s background with Oyster Party echoes strongly throughout the three-dish spread, which currently features lobster rolls, oysters, and pretzels. Don’t let the curated menu trick you into thinking the fare is nothing special, though. On the contrary, everything at Kingston Standard receives the homemade treatment. Sourdough pretzels with local flour are hand-rolled and lye-dipped, then served with whipped, local butter. Oysters are regionally sourced and fresh as can be, and lobster rolls are loaded with sweet hunks of seafood and served inside plush sandwich-style rolls.
If opening season is any indication, Kingston Standard has made quick work of engraining itself into the Hudson Valley community. Looking ahead, the owners hope it continues to be a one-stop shop for locals to savor the simple pleasures of sipping a craft beer outside or splitting a plate of oysters with friends.
“[We want to] make great beer and serve excellent food with the freshest and best ingredients available that you can’t get anywhere else but in our tasting room,” says Simpson. Coming up, “we’re also working on a way to package our beer for to-go sales in the tasting room, [which] should be coming in the next few months.”
Kingston Standard Brewing Co.
22 Jansen Ave, Kingston
Fri 4-8 p.m., Sat and Sun 12-8 p.m.