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

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Photos by Derek Dellinger

Just a few minutes from Minnewaska State Park, Kerhonkson’s Rough Cut Brewing Co. debuts a new menu, rustic taproom, and scenic outdoor space.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Few things are more satisfying after a rigorous Hudson Valley hike than an ice-cold beer and a warm meal. Luckily for Ulster County adventurers, nearby Rough Cut Brewing Co. recently debuted a cozy, new taproom and a soul-warming comfort food menu.

“We’re only about five minutes from the gate of Minnewaska State Park. It’s so close, people have actually tried to park there and hitch-hike to Minnewaska,” Kayne Konecny, owner and head brewer, says. “ I think we even have access somewhere are in our backyard to a few trailheads. The building has a long history in Kerhonkson, starting with the ‘Log Cabin’ restaurant that was built in the 1930s.”

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Recently, he vaulted the ceilings and knocked a wall down, installing a garage door leading to an outdoor beer garden. Rough Cut Brewing displays a fresh look and feel, but also has a bit of a history in the Hudson Valley. Konecny started the brewpub back in 2014, after trying to break into Brooklyn’s booming craft beer industry for several years. He and his wife, Jess, relocated to Kerhonkson—just around the corner from where the brewery stands. The pair went to lunch at Mountain Brauhaus one day, and the server urged them to start a business at the former Oscar Restaurant.

So, Konecny finally found the right spot. The self-admitted hop-head actually got his start with a homebrewing kit.

I didn’t even start drinking period until I was like 22 or something. So, I skipped that bad college beer phase and went straight into craft beer,” he recalls. “A friend of mine I play music with brought over a homebrew kit one night. We tried it, made a few really bad beers, and then put it on the shelf.”

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Eventually, Konecny started practicing again. By the time Rough Cut Brewing opened its doors to the public, he and his colleagues solidified several recipes. One barrel at a time, they churned out Belgian-inspired tripels and American pale ales. They upgraded to a five-barrel system a few years ago, and now have a robust selection of staples and styles that rotate seasonally.

One of the earliest beers he crafted remains a staple. Minnewaska Trail pale ale now features three distinct hop varietals: citra, el dorado, and ekuanot—formerly known as equinox. In fact, ekuanot used to be the sole hop on display. Konecny loves hoppy beers, citing Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale as the first craft brew he fell in love with.

Pouring-RCB

Ekuanot, released the same year as Rough Cut Brewing’s inception, frequently serves as an aroma hop. It gives beers a distinct scent, often described as having notes of fresh green peppers. Ekuanot also has fruit-forward characteristics, presenting elements of anything melon and papaya to lime and orange peel. After testing simcoe for the mix (and ultimately removing crystal malt from the recipe), Konecny settled on the intensely citrusy citra and the bright, tropical el dorado.  

“We’re still deciding what the best flagships are. But, Minnewaska Trail pale ale and the 44/55 IPA have the local names, we’ve been doing them forever, and have gotten a really good response. I live and work along the Minnewaska trail, and the recipe, which has been developing over time, and is finally where I like it.” 

Rough Cut Brewing Cans

The Minnewaska Trail is a sessionable 5.1-percent ABV. On the other hand, the seasonally available 44/55 earns its status as a double IPA with an 8.3-percent ABV and four fashionable hops: galaxy, mosaic, centennial, and columbus.

However, Konecny proudly produces more than just piney pale ales.

Stove

Since his Brooklyn days, he’s had a passion for Belgian styles. For example, Rough Cut Brewing’s take on the perennial pumpkin beer craze more closely resembles heritage European dubbels. The Bumpkin Ale (7.5-percent ABV) gets its spiciness from the yeast, and avoids falling into the overly malty and cinnamon-clove overload that mark many commercial pumpkin beers.

Similarly, the Sour Old Brown Ale (6.7-percent ABV) draws from traditional Flemish brewing techniques. The oud bruin style (meaning “old brown”) involves multiple fermentations and allows residual yeast and bacteria to create a sour flavor profile. Additionally, it’s soured in oak barrels. For the Pomme D’Orange, a 9.1-percent ABV tripel, Rough Cut Brewing uses both bitter and sweet orange peel in the boil.

Cheers

“That was another really old recipe…. it actually has orange peel in there. I let it ferment out [of the boil] completely, and then I add orange blossom honey [for] a second fermentation,” Konecny explains. The name, literally “apple of orange,” is a bit of a gag. At one time, there was not a word to describe the fruit of an orange tree—hence, the apple of orange.

Rough Cut Brewing typically offers eight beers on draft at a time, giving Konecny the opportunity to experiment with different styles and seasons. He often pours saisons in the summer, and stouts and tripels in the winter. For instance, the first-ever bottle release is a 14-percent ABV bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout, dubbed the “Tar of Tsars.” Crushable pilsners and American wheat ales, bold barley wines, hazy NEIPAs, and an entire galaxy of styles grace the Rough Cut Brewing archive. Repeat visits reward beer fans, who have the opportunity to sample innovative sips.

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Can’t decide between a Belgian and an IPA? Nelson the Belgian (6.6-percent ABV) blends the two, showcasing yet another twist on one of Konecny’s favorite styles.

“IPA is just kind of like [what] everyone around here seems to be doing. I like it when people come here and they say, ‘You have four different Belgian beers on tap, that’s awesome!’ and I’m like, ‘Great, people still actually drink Belgian beers,'” he jokes.

Rough-Cut-Dishes

Fish tacos

In addition to the ever-changing tap list, Rough Cut Brewing serves a menu of delicious pub grub. In a similar vein to the brewing philosophies, the cuisine features interesting takes on true classics.

For examples, see the appetizers. Dig into chicken wings tossed in a house-made Korean chili sauce and served with pickled ginger and wasabi aioli. Or, choose the empanadas, stuffed with beef picadillo, sambal, and olives. Blistered shishito peppers, honey bacon brussels sprouts, and Vermont cheddar mac and cheese round out the savory starters.

RCB-Snacks

Marinated tofu eggplant rollatini

The egg roll salad is another scrumptious invention, featuring mushrooms, water chestnuts, and other typical fillings—add marinated chicken or tofu for a small fee. Tacos come in fried cod and braised lamb varieties, while the pan-fried pork belly chicharrónes are plated alongside avocado salsa and a smoked kidney bean puree. Of course, few things pair better with a pint than the Oklahoma onion smash burger.

Stay tuned on social media for specials, bottle release parties, and events with live music.

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Related: Head to These 8 Hudson Valley Breweries for Top-Tier Beer and a Meal

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