The best-kept little secret among the Valley’s new breweries isn’t so very little. And it really isn’t all that much of a secret among craft beer aficionados in the area.
Because, really, when you’re trying to recreate a Bavarian beer hall, how discreet can you be?
“We just fell in love with this building,” says Newburgh Brewing Company President Paul Halayko, sitting in his office at the 160-year-old four-story brick edifice in Newburgh, not far from the 18th-century Washington’s Headquarters and just a stone’s throw from the banks of the Hudson River. “We just kind of stumbled on it.”
Co-owner Paul Halayko sits — and sips — outside his brewery
That was about the only thing that wasn’t thoughtfully planned out when Halayko and his Washingtonville High School — and Boston University — buddy Christopher Basso began working on what would eventually become Newburgh Brewing Company. Their first craft beer was produced in April 2012; two months later, a taproom was opened on the fourth floor of the brick building. With its long communal tables, the room resembles something straight out of the great beer halls of Munich and Bamberg.
Halayko is the money guy, an accountant by trade. Basso is the mixologist: Trained at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, he turned an internship at the Brooklyn Brewery into a full-time position. Both had a passion for beer, and when they decided to form a joint venture, it could only be in Newburgh.
Dishes served at the brewery include Newburgh Saison-style mussels (cooked in Newburgh’s Saison beer), a grilled cheese sandwich made with local cheese and house-smoked bacon, and a salad of mixed greens and roasted beets dressed with Saison beer vinaigrette
“Look, on the logistical side there’s no doubt that it was more financially feasible in Newburgh. And strategically, it’s located at a crossroads of Interstate 84, the New York State Thruway, and the [Metro-North] train station, which is right across the river in Beacon,” Halayko says. “But for everybody who asks us ‘Why Newburgh? Why in such a decayed spot?’ we reply that it’s not decaying. Yeah, it’s fallen on hard times. But Newburgh has a rich, amazing history and was once considered one of the best places to live. It’s coming back, and we want to be part of the revitalization.”
Since April of last year, Newburgh Brewing has produced 18 craft beers. Four are available year-round — including the brewery’s most popular brand, Cream Ale — and three are seasonal. The other 11 are considered part of the company’s specialty line: Once a month, one batch (that’s 35 kegs) of a new beer is produced — and then goes away unless it becomes a phenomenal seller.
The Cream Ale is what Halayko and Basso refer to as their “bridge beer,” something that appeals to the true craft beer drinker but also to those who prefer traditional lagers but are interested in trying a craft brew. Of their beers, the Brown Ale has been the most critically acclaimed, earning 98 out of 100 in a ranking done by the respected publication Beer Advocate.
So far, beers from Newburgh Brewing are available in about 120 establishments throughout the greater New York area, as well as in the Valley and, of course, in the brewery’s own taproom. Halayko said he hasn’t done any traditional advertising yet — and, in this industry, he might not have to.
“It’s important to keep relevant in craft brewing,” he said. “The vast majority of craft breweries get their marketing from social media and word-of-mouth. This is an industry where, if you make a great product, it’s going to be sought-after. We’re starting to see some of the buzz from that.” 845-569-2337; www.newburghbrewing.com