Livingston County’s first brewery opens

Livingston County's first brewery opens

Livingston County’s first craft brewery has sprouted on a fifth-generation family farm.

The Grant family, Justin, Heather, and their three children, opened Dublin Corners Farm Brewery late last month in York. The brewery sits in a barn they built, right behind the family home. There isn’t a sign yet. (Don’t worry, there will be soon).

But beer nerds can spot the brewery on the west side of State Route 36, just south of Route 20, from the half-acre of now dormant hop trellises. Drive just past the family house, past the chickens, wave hello to Barley, the family’s 100-pound St. Bernard dog, and you arrive at the Grant family brewery. (The brewery has a Linwood mailing address, but is in York.)

“It’s cool to be Livingston County’s first brewery, but for me, it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh. We were finally able to open,'” Justin Grant said. “We’ve had a really great turnout over the past few weeks.

“We just wanted to open a spot where people are comfortable and where they can chill. I just want to make beer that people like.”

Justin, 40, and Heather, 39, each have full-time jobs. The farm has been in the family for over 100 years. The majority of the 300 acres are rented out to other farmers. But the Grants plant about three acres of pumpkins each year, and they also have the thriving hop crop to supply the brewery, located at 1908 Main St.

The Grants planted hops next to the family home five years ago. Justin, an avid homebrewer, was looking for a way to unload some of their yearly yield, so he began to explore the idea of opening a brewery. “I really had a problem trying to sell them all,” Justin said. The New York state farm brewery act was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2012 and went into effect in 2013. That legislation significantly simplified the process of opening a brewery.

“We took that as a sign that maybe we should try this,” said Heather Grant.

The barn was built 14 years ago, originally to host the couple’s wedding reception. So for the past three years, Justin and a few friends worked on transforming a barn on his property into a small community brewery. They drywalled and insulated the front section of the barn (which leaves a bit of room for growth, if needed).

The brewery is designed to be a community gathering place. It’s small, intimate, cozy and comfortable. The walls are adorned with maps of the town of York, artwork from the family’s three children, and other trinkets and knick-knacks.

“This is just a place to hang out and drink some beer,” Justin Grant said.

“And we’re introducing a lot of people to the hop-growing process,” Heather added. “Before we were open, some people would stop and ask, ‘Are those green beens that you’re growing?’ It’s been fun educating everyone about that process.”

The Grants originally settled on the name, Big Foot Brewing. The name was a nod to Heather’s love of folklore and Justin’s large feet (he wears size 16 shoes). But the name is a long-held trademark of California craft beer pioneer Sierra Nevada. Siera Nevada brews Bigfoot Barleywine. SN sent a friendly letter to the Grants. And after a bit of research, they settled on Dublin Corners, which is a nod to the area’s cultural roots.

Mary Root’s book “History of the Town of York” talks about the early Irish and Scottish immigrants in the area. Grant said the area was referred to as “Dublin Corners” or “Devil’s Half Acre,” because of the Irish settlers in the area. The brewery’s IPA will be called Devil’s Half Acre.Livingston County\'s first brewery opens

Dublin Corners opened with three beers: an amber ale called Better Red Than Dead (it’s one of Justin’s oldest homebrew recipes scaled up), a porter with local maple syrup called Tree Tapper, and a quintessential New York-style pale ale called York Pale Ale. (When I say New York-style, I am referring to an ale that’s a bit heartier in the malt backbone and it features that long-lasting, almost oniony bitterness.)

The red ale was my favorite. It was surprisingly full-bodied and featured a good amount of caramel sweetness that was balanced by earthy local hops. The pale ale was also lovely. And the maple syrup was well integrated into the porter.

The brewery has been a hit. In just three weeks, the Grants say the brewery has helped them meet a bunch of new people. And they’ve already welcomed in some regulars. The demand has been so high that the brewery will actually be closed until the weekend of Dec. 2 so they can brew more on their 2-barrel system to replenish stock.

“We’ve already met a ton of people we didn’t know,” Heather Grant said. “We knew it would be difficult being out here, so we’ve tried to make it a destination for people to visit.”

People will travel for good beer.

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