All photos courtesy of Zac Ross
Nyack’s Main Street just got a little bit hoppier. Brewmaster Zac Ross enriches the Hudson Valley beer scene with his latest venture, Marlowe Artisanal Ales.
By Matt Moment, with additional reporting by Kait Waterman
The craft beer business has boomed over the last decade, with breweries popping up in every corner of the Hudson Valley. As a result, brewers have had to get creative—and at times, straight-up weird—to stand out. The industry has seen some rather eclectic brews, from a Lucky Charms-flavored IPA to the “world’s strongest beer” (clocking in at 67.5 percent ABV, drinkers are advised to down the bottle a shot at a time). But what ever happened to a good, old-fashioned ale? For drinkers who prefer “a beer that disappears from your glass before you even notice it,” Marlowe Artisanal Ales in Nyack might just be your new go-to.
Marlowe Artisanal Ales is a labor of love from Zac Ross, an industry veteran with years of experience at top breweries like Voodoo Brewing Company, the Twelve Percent Beer Project, and Kent Falls Brewing Company. The alehouse’s name and logo both come from Ross’ maternal grandfather, Marlowe—the logo is his signature, appropriated from a piece of music Marlowe composed for the wedding of Ross’s parents. Ross notes that his grandfather’s signature reminds him “to honor [his] family and help curate experiences that they would enjoy through beer.”
When it came time for Ross to develop the menu for Marlowe Artisanal Ales—his first solo venture—the guiding principle was drinkability. Disillusioned by trends in the beer industry, Ross seeks to share beer “that pairs exceptionally well with food, friends, and good conversation.” (The brewery’s motto, after all, is “No hype. No gimmicks. Just beer.”) Most of Marlowe’s beer hovers between five and six percent ABV, meaning you can sample several varieties in a single evening.
Ross’s talent as a brewer is on full display in each of Marlowe’s beers. Sip the flagship pale ale, appropriately dubbed “Eager to Share,” and discover what’s so special about Ross’ philosophy; the beer is downright delicious, but never upstages the experience. “Beer is meant to be an accent, not center-stage,” he muses. The same goes for his boozier concoctions—even the 9.9 percent ABV “Blackout Jinx,” made with honey and maple syrup, goes down easy. India pale ale fanatics will be pleased to discover two IPAs on the menu; opt for “Despite All Odds,” a DIPA brewed with Ross’s favorite malts and hops, or the single IPA, “Everything Considered.” A uniting feature of Marlowe’s products is artful design; each can bears a distinctive label with illustrations emulating the goodness within.
If you find yourself peckish between beers, there’s also plenty to try in the way of victuals. Marlowe’s sandwiches—like its smash burger and Nashville hot mushroom sandwich—range from $10-20, so you needn’t break the bank to enjoy a bite. Marlowe plans to expand its kid’s menu in the coming months; in the meantime, little ones can order chicken nuggets and fries.
Rockland County beer snobs will recognize the space that now houses Marlowe Artisanal Ales—in 2019, Two Villains Brewing Company opened its doors at the very same location. The space had a rich history even predating Two Villains; Bourbon Street, another bar, was a cornerstone of Nyack’s night life for decades. When Two Villains restructured its business earlier this year—leaving behind its brick-and-mortar site—Ross jumped at the opportunity to set up shop at the storied building on Main Street.
Prior to that, he had been looking for the “right space and the right town” to no avail. But then, a stroke of luck: “The moment I stepped into the building that is now the home of Marlowe, I knew this was the right place for the brewery,” says Ross. Not only was the space ideal, but he immediately felt a sense of community in the riverside town. “When eating dinner at DPNB Pasta & Provisions, the owner, Chef Tony, [shared] how excited he was at the possibility of me setting up shop there and offered any assistance. It seems like everyone in the Village of Nyack is committed to its success.”
Marlowe Artisanal Ales opened this fall, yet Ross reports he’s already garnered a “steady stream of regulars.” It would seem that, in an industry driven by innovation, simplicity is a welcome novelty. “We aren’t just serving beer to customers,” Ross asserts. “We are serving them an entire experience that they can’t get anywhere else.”