It takes a Hudson Valley Village to have a Brewing Company its Main Street Attraction

Hudson Valley Village Chatham Brewery

Chatham Brewing was founded in 2006 in a tiny old carriage house in Chatham, New York by two home brewers, Jake Cunningham, and Tom Crowell. Both men, who met through their wives, had worked in various breweries; Jake had worked on the restaurant side and at a brewery in England as well. However, after toying with home brewing, both lusted to start their own brewing operation.

Another home brewer, Matt Perry, sought out Jake and Tom to join their operation. Matt had been home brewing for about five years taste testing his brews on friends as they watched Sunday football games – good to have an audience as a true test of his talent. Realizing that Matt had a natural acumen for brewing and wanting to brew on a larger scale, Jake and Tom brought Matt on board as Head Brewer. About Matt, Tom says that he is intuitive about hops and barley and, much like a chef, knows what to do to make a recipe come together. According to Matt the system was small and, as he refers to it, is like a glorified home brewing setup even though it equates to about 100 gallons of finished product (home brewing produces about a five gallon batch).
Working together, the three men quickly outgrew the little carriage house. However, because beer is 95 percent water, they wanted to stay in the village of Chatham where they would have the same water. Two years down the road after developing a business plan, they eventually secured financing and licensing and located the perfect space in the center of the village on Main Street next to the only municipal parking lot. And the space had large picture windows offering shoppers, strollers and beer aficionados a view of the action, as well as a lure to stop in for a tasting or a pint of draft.

In January, 2014 they moved to their new location and Jake’s brother Chris Cunningham joined the company. The most important factor in brewing is being organized and pristine clean so the flavor of the beer is not altered. In their new facility, Matt brews one to two batches a day depending on which tanks are available. He now works on a 20-barrel system that has a 650 gallon capacity.

There are 17 different beers including IPAs (Indian Pale Ale), Pale Ale, Stout, and Porter. The IPAs are more aromatic with a citrus variety of hops giving off the aroma of tropical fruits like mango and grapefruit. The Hop Crop IPA is made with hops from their hop yard and those of a local farm. The Pale Ale uses fewer hops, is not as aromatic on the nose, but is light and sweet. There is a low alcohol Dry Irish Stout made with chocolate malt, roasted barley and a new specialty malt, Midnight Wheat, and an Imperial Stout with a coffee flavor blended with bittersweet and Baker’s chocolate. The Porter is made with Crystal Malt, which is a caramel malt with roasted barley making it darker and sweeter. On the horizon is Go Long Session IPA,
a traditional ale lower in alcohol.

Chatham Brewing’s most popular beer is the Farmer’s Daughter Rye IPA made with rye malt from a local craft distillery, Hillrock Farm. Many of their beers have locally-sourced ingredients from farms in the county, but barley is more difficult to get. In New York, there isn’t much barley grown because there is no crop insurance and farmers can’t take the risk of growing it due to the uncertainty of weather conditions.

Craft beer tasting dinners are becoming the new trend gaining ground on the traditional wine tasting dinners. Recently, Chatham Brewing joined brewery talents with the culinary talents of Local 111 in neighboring Philmont for a five-course beer pairing dinner created by Chef Jo Proul. Appetizers were paired with Local Hero Cream Ale for a light starter; the entrée featured Broiled Sirloin with Cheddar Ale Sauce and the Spike Devil Porter, and the grand finale was a Charred Sweet Potato Tart with the Dry Irish Stout to soften the sweetness.

When you crave beer, you also tend to crave a bratwurst or burger. Chatham Brewing has added an adorable fire engine red mini food truck in the parking lot where they serve burgers, bratwurst, pretzels and mac & cheese – the meats all sourced from local farms and flavored with mustard and sauces made with its beers. The food truck serves from 2 p.m. to close.

Chatham’s beer is sold throughout the Hudson Valley from Saratoga to Manhattan and in 32 oz. or 64 oz. Growlers at the brewery to take home and bring back for refills. They also have started canning select styles of their beer. For visitors to the Hudson Valley, Chatham Brewing’s Tasting Room is open Wednesday and Thursday, 4-8 p.m.; Friday, noon-10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.

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Margaret was public relations director for two luxury New York City hotels, where she did extensive research into America's culinary heritage. She is a founding member of The James Beard Foundation; formerly, owner of a Jersey Shore inn and restaurant, The Pelican Bistro, recognized as one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in NJ by New Jersey Monthly, and a PR consultant to restaurateurs. For the past several years she has been a contributing writer about food, drink and restaurant news for many publications. She is a passionate cook and wine lover who moved to the Hudson Valley and is in awe of the immense wealth of agricultural, artisanal and culinary talent in the area. Connect with her at www.TastefulLiving.net, Hudson Valley Wine & Restaurant Examiner and Shore Region Food & Restaurant Examiner. She can be reached at mmorgan531@gmail.com.

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