Photos by Hope Stier unless otherwise noted
Vosburgh Brewing Co., formerly the Elizaville location for Sloop Brewing Co., crafts farm-to-bottle beers and hosts live music on weekends.
By Raphael Beretta and Francesca Furey
Farm breweries are all the rage in the Hudson Valley. They harken back to the region’s craft beverage past. In addition, innovation through hop farming grants a window to the future.
Vosburgh Brewing Co., which opened September 2021, embodies this perfectly.
“I’m seventh generation on the farm, [and] it’s still a working apple farm,” Vosburgh Brewing co-owner Mark Stier says. Vosburgh Orchards, the Elizaville farm in question, remains family-owned since its start in 1839. In fact, an approximately 200-year-old Dutch post and beam barn houses the tasting room. “It was originally part of Livingston’s land. One of my ancestors worked for him as a land manager.”
Originally, the property served as a conventional farm, which raised dairy cows, cultivated grains, grew vegetables, etc. However, starting with Stier’s grandfather, the farm shifted focus toward apples. Currently, Arnold Vosburgh (Stier’s uncle) grows about eight different apple varieties. A commercial fruit farm, Vosburgh Orchards ships apples anywhere from Florida to Canada. Stier, along with his wife Hope and children Ryan and Ella, helps Arnold with this operation.
Further, their apples have fueled small-batch ciders. Tyler Graham, who owns Kings Highway Fine Cider in Millerton, makes a cider called “Arnie’s Orchard Cider” out of the Columbia County fruit. Some of those apple trees are over 100 years old.
“It’s made from Idared, Mutsu, Sheepnose, Golden Delicious, and Greening. [Recently], we’ve planted a bunch of old French and American-English varietals of cider apples. So, we threw a few of those in there as well,” Stier continues. Arnie’s is an English-style dry cider. With a bold 6.9-percent ABV, notes of caramel and an intense fruit profile round out the cider.
Of course, the heritage apple cider isn’t Vosburgh’s first craft beverage project. Before Sloop Brewing Co. moved to the Factory at iPark 84 in East Fishkill, it launched in the 1800s Dutch barn in Elizaville.
“Adam Watson used to work for me. He’s a geologist, and [I have a background] in geotechnical engineering (and am a professional geologist). So, he and his partner, Justin, would make [The Red C] and bring it to the lab, and we’d all sample it,” Stier recalls.
Back in 2013, Watson and his team were ready to take the leap from home brewing and farmers’ markets. Stier mentioned the barn at Vosburgh Orchards, and invited the crew up for a visit. It was a pristine fall day when they came to scope out the property. Above all, the breathtaking foliage won them over.
Sloop Brewing Co. launched its beloved New England IPAs soon after. Initially, the brand planned on staying for five years. Yet the nationwide success of Juice Bomb led the team to outgrow the space in about two and a half years. The 30-barrel stainless steel system barely fit in the barn. Once they moved the brewing system to East Fishkill, Sloop kept a tasting room in Elizaville for a bit longer.
“So, it was decided that we would shut down this barn tasting room,” Stier says. When Sloop left, “that gave us the opportunity to do Vosburgh Brewing. We had an empty barn that was kind of ready to go.”
“We’re a small, working apple farm on about 140 acres. And, truthfully, it’s hard to pay the taxes just on that income alone. So, I thought about brewing beer and started growing hops,” he adds. Stier collaborated with his friend Kieran Farrell (who owns Gun Hill Brewing and co-owns Vosburgh) and the two created the craft brewery of their dreams. Farrell and Stier met years prior through a mutual friend and, in 2019, Kieran was looking to set new roots in the Hudson Valley and start a new craft beer venture on a farm. The rest is history, so to speak, as they created a new partnership in Vosburgh Brewing.
Below, we touched base with the team to learn what’s going on at Vosburgh now, and what local beer lovers can look forward to next.
An Interview With Vosburgh Brewing Co.
What’s on tap now?
A wide range of beer styles. There’s something for everyone: Terra (pilsner), How Lucky and Silvernails (New England IPAs), Boompah (imperial stout), Festbier (German pale lager), Biere de Garde (farmhouse pale ale), Elizaville (Helles-style lager), and Tire Tracks (dry-hopped copper ale).
Which one is the best-seller?
“How Lucky. It’s a little bit different from your standard hazy New England IPA,” says Farrell. (It’s double dry-hopped with three types of hops.) They’ve also seen more customers order Terra, which, says Farrell, is becoming nearly as popular.
And your personal favorites?
“It’s always the latest one we brewed!” says Stier. “So my favorite right now is Silvernails. It has balance—a lot of IPAs are just overloaded with hops. But we’ve never done that. Oh, and my wife [and co-owner] Hope loves stouts. Her favorite is Boompah,” says Stier. Farrell’s go-to is Elizaville, a lager made with Vosburgh farm hops that’s malted in Germantown.
A customer says, “surprise me.” What do you pour?
The Bière de Garde. “It’s a funky farmhouse-style beer made with apples from the farm that you can really smell and taste,” says Stier.
Any beer trends we should know about?
Lagers are having a moment. “When people first got into craft beer, they looked at lagers and said, ‘Oh, that’s just like a Budweiser. I don’t want to drink that,’” laughs Farrell, who encourages customers to try Vosburgh’s Festbier and learn how good a lager can be.
A fall harvest festival is in the works—Stier and Vosburgh staffers will harvest hops and allow visitors to pick them off the hop lines and put them into a fresh brew. (“Free labor,” jokes Stier.) Attendees can then drink the beer at a later date. “We also have a new kitchen,” adds Stier. “We’re going to keep it simple with elevated pub food—pizza, chicken wings, and charcuterie boards with local meats and cheeses.” Most weekends, Vosburgh has live music and food trucks, like Aloha Tacos and Cousin’s Lobster (visit the brewery’s website for their calendar). The team is hoping to plan a recurring, monthly beer and music festival, too.
P.S. Don’t miss Hope Stier’s lovely u-pick flower program! From mid-July until the first frost of the season, pick blooming sunflowers, zinnia, dahlias, snapdragons, and many more right next to the brewery. On a clear spring day, pollinators like bees and butterflies can be seen throughout the beds. Grab flowers by the jar, ranging from $3 for a small arrangement to $10 for a large. You get as many flowers as you can fit in the container, and the farm even takes Venmo.