Diners at, say, Elephant in Kingston or 52 Main in Millerton, might notice a new name when perusing the beer list: From the Ground Brewery. It would be smart to give the dry-hopped American Pale Ale, spicy Farmhouse Red Ale, or chocolate note-laden Bar and Chain Stout from this newcomer a whirl.
In April, Jakob Cirell set up shop at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market, as well as the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan, to introduce locals and visitors to his Red Hook nanobrewery, found on the idyllic grounds of Migliorelli Farm. Debuting his business in such a choice locale was purely opportune. After looking at myriad spaces for close to a year, with an eye on Red Hook because of tree-zoning laws allowing breweries in agricultural zones, Cirell sent a Hail Mary email out to local farmers. “Ken Migliorelli called me back the next day, showed me around his farm, and we picked a spot. He had just started growing barley as a cover crop, and bringing a brewery to his farm worked with the equation,” Cirell recalls.
Crafting small-batch quality beers that illuminate raw ingredients grown in the Hudson Valley is important to Cirell. Nearly 100 percent of the barley he uses hails directly from the Migliorelli farm. Likewise, Germantown Beer Farm, which malts his grains, supplies 20 percent of Cirell’s hops.
The ability to brew his own beer, “and make a living off of something where I can exercise my brain and still use my hands is what I always wanted,” says Cirell. What started out as a “just for fun” hobby when he was a 21-year-old (circa 1999) evolved into a passion, so much so that when Cirell was dissatisfied with his mechanical engineering career working for green buildings in New York City, he found a new life honing his skills at a Brooklyn brewery for three years — until the Hudson Valley came calling.
With the birth of his daughter, managing a butcher shop on a livestock farm seemed a calmer, more economically viable alternative. The region’s “rural elements” also appealed to the Maine native, who was reared in its central woods, yet “there is a lot more support for small, local, artisanal businesses here,” Cirell points out. When his son was born it was time to create the brewery he once envisioned back in NYC. “I have always been into DIY, especially pertaining to food and drink. As my palate developed and more craft breweries opened I saw it was something that had potential from a business standpoint. But
it has always been about lifestyle,” he explains.
Because that lifestyle embraces the land, Cirell will fittingly release a series of 100 percent Hudson Valley-made beers this fall, aged with cherries, raspberries and plums plucked straight from the Migliorelli orchard.