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Locust Grove Brewing Is the Place to Be for Brews and Views

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Photos by Alissa Gileau – Mountain and Moss Photography unless otherwise noted

This brewery crafts orchard-fresh ciders at Locust Grove Farm in Milton, where guests can take in breathtaking views of the Hudson River.

When it comes to creating the perfect Hudson Valley brewery, it all starts with the aesthetic.

Picture this: a bright, yellow barn surrounded by fruit trees. Inside, relics from neighboring farms tell stories of the region’s past. From the second story, windows overlook the majestic Hudson River.

Locust-Grove-Brewing-Cider

Does that sound like the perfect setting for a brewery? Brothers Jim Kent, Jr. and Charles “Chip” Kent at Locust Grove Brewing in Milton certainly thought so.

Basically, it was a couple of guys with a couple of pints talking about doing a cidery and a brewery,” Chip recalls. These conversations started as early as the fall of 2018. Chip specifically remembers inspiration striking him. He and his son sat on one of their trucks, looking out at the Ulster County property.

Locust-Grove-Brewing-Sign

“You know, we got a perfect spot for it. It’s in the middle of the farm, [and] it’s got a view of the river. We have fruit all around it. It seemed like a no-brainer…we went and we bought a barn, and the rest is history. And, we’re learning as we go,” he adds.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time the Kents jumped head-first into a new industry.

Over seven generations ago, members of the family made a name for themselves as shipbuilders along the Hudson. Jonathan Kent migrated from Springfield, Massachusetts. He built sloops right on the water and married the local dock master’s daughter.

Front-of-Locust-Grove-Brewing

In 1820, the family traded carpentry for agriculture and started the Locust Grove Fruit Farm. Its location proved perfect for growing orchard fruit. A mild climate and well-drained soil permitted the Kents to cultivate all sorts of produce.

Today, three generations work the farm: James and Helen, their sons Chip and Jim, Jr., and Chip’s family. They mainly specialize in apples, peaches, and cherries. Certainly, Locust Grove Fruit Farm is a can’t-miss stop during u-pick season. They also grow Pinot Noir, Concord, Riesling, Cab Franc, and several other vinifera grapes. In fact, the Kents have been cultivating grapes for a few hundred years.

upstairs

Photo by Anthony Begany

When the pandemic halted one of their main sources of revenue, the dream for farm-to-glass beers and ciders became a reality. Locust Grove supplies many restaurants, farmers’ markets, and grocery stores across New York State with fruit. Items like quince quickly formed a surplus and, in turn, fodder for drinks.

“We grow a lot of quince, which are right in front of the brewery by the river here,” Chip says. “So, we have 100 acres with 100 varieties of apples, probably 10 varieties of pears, and countless varieties of plums and peaches. We still have a couple trees from when they built the house across the street in the 1800s.”

Jimmy, Chip, and Sawyer

James Kent, Jr, Charles “Chip” Kent, and Charles’s son Sawyer Kent (from left to right)

In addition, an old 1763 house on the property was hit by the British during the Revolutionary War. Chip says they’re working on a historical renovation of the homestead. 

In a similar vein, the Kents work to preserve heritage fruit trees onsite. Chip references two monster trees: one is a Gravenstein apple tree and the other one is a Black Twig. They graft from these older, heritage varieties onto younger rootstocks to keep them “alive.”

With ingredients this special, there’s massive potential for resulting beers and ciders. Enter Cortlandt Toczylowski, head brewer and co-founder of King’s Court Brewing Company in Poughkeepsie.

“King’s Court has always been our Sunday hangout spot after working on the farm,” Chip says. Currently, all of Locust Grove Brewing’s beers are made at King’s Court. The ciders, on the other hand, are made onsite. “We gained a wealth of knowledge from Cortlant and Caroline [Bergelin].”

When Locust Grove Brewing opened its doors in November 2021, it offered several King’s Court beers and house ciders. It served King Kolsch, Bat Exodus nitro milk stout, Gatekeeper stout, and more. In addition, it poured a peach ale and a cherry beer made from Locust Grove fruit.

On the other hand, the orchard-fresh ciders are a highlight of any visit. First, there’s Jose Huevo, named after the foeder tanks (which resemble eggs). These Dutch oak tanks ferment and age the farm’s foeder series of ciders. Some are funky, and some, like Jose Huevo, are smooth like a wine.

“One of our favorite mixes is Jonagold and Empire….Jose Huevo is like a white wine,” Chip says. “And it just sort of finishes off real nice with a nice, fruity finish. That one’s more of a mix, as it also features quince and Stayman Winesap apples.”

Further, Mad Dog peach proves to be a fan-favorite. This cider blends Locust Grove peaches and apples. Funky Foeder gets a unique flavor from California yeast, and Peggy’s spiced pumpkin cider is a fall staple. In addition, the brewery has also made cider from tart cherries and quince.

Down the line, Chip plans to experiment with additional flavors and make wine from Locust Grove grapes.

“Our plans are to be steady and true to the craft of cidermaking. And, we’re going to hopefully evolve our flavors and incorporate as much terroir into it as possible.”

When you visit Locust Grove Brewing, you’re also entering a museum of sorts.

The team furnished the taproom with mostly repurposed furniture. For instance, they sources barrel tops from the old elementary school in Milton. The Kents display a sign from their farm stand in the 1930s. In fact, their sign out front happens to be an old Ford Model A. Find artifacts from Hahn and Hepworth farms, and even a door from Noah’s Ark in Poughkeepsie. 

Pitchforks, tables made from Milton church pews, and oddball things form a unique aesthetic. Upstairs, views of the Hudson River dazzle patrons.

Finally, food trucks from Hudson Valley chefs pair amazingly with grain-to-glass beers. (Locust Grove Brewing is a licensed farm cidery, after all.)

For instance, Reconnect Foods makes frequent appearances. Chef David Cruz, a CIA-grad, launched his brand (and a truck) out of the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory. His Mexican-inspired dishes often include hyperlocal ingredients.

“Nine times out of 10, he’ll source stuff from the farm,” Chip says. “He’ll grab a whole bunch of pumpkins or squash and he’ll do squash soup or some vegan things that are really delicious.”

La Tres Americas, Max’s Melts, and Pop’s Place round out a few other Locust Grove Brewing regulars. Above all, the Kents want the brewery to be a community gathering space—and a way to express creativity.

“We’ll have some fun, grow something, and make something that’s good to drink. Plus, you can come here, have some fun, and hang out on the farm,” Chip says.

Related: Rough Cut Brewing Co. Makes Belgian-Style Beers in Kerhonkson

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