Meet Kristop and James, friends and partners dedicated to delivering hand-crafted brews, delicious fare and great memories to people just like you and me, every weekend, at Yard Owl Craft Brewery. Now located in a warehouse just 25 feet from the Gardiner Rail Trail, (yes ladies and gentleman, you can get your exercise in before you indulge) the brewery began as a much smaller operation. With the help of James' wife, Michelle, a venture the team discussed on opposite sides of the country in 2010 would come to fruition shortly after their first experimentation in 2012, diapered children in hand.
"I noticed a big change in bars, where you weren’t just serving Budweiser and Coors." If you haven't heard of the Craft Beer Movement, you've probably been living under a boulder for the last decade. The movement has stirred up America's concept of brews and it's effects can be seen in bars across the country. Kristop and James found that while, out West, this crusade was booming, there was a void in the Hudson Valley that was begging to be filled. A void two men, heroes really, would charge head on.
"You have the science of brewing which is extremely important, and then you have the art of brewing." James' passion for brewing was ignited after the purchase of a small brewers kit from Jerry Pantano and in 2010-2011, Kristop and James attended several courses on professional brewing at the University of California. There, they learned the art of skilled brewing at the college's own brewery, and as the two note, "it was incredibly hands on." Kristop's experience in organic chemistry, wine making and fermentation naturally helped in this arena. Over the course of their time in California, they were able to learn more about Belgian brewing methods and the creation of different flavor profiles; techniques they have taken home to Gardiner.
"We opened a brewery in a warehouse and were left asking, who’s going to show up? You never know what to expect." Yard Owl began as a backyard structure with "a core of six businesses who really supported the business from the beginning," but with the brewery's growing customer base, the production needed a larger space. In January of 2016, Yard Owl's rustic-chic tasting room opened, featuring the artwork of local artist Ryan Cronin and a view of the stills and barrels at work. Accompaniments include snacks of locally made charcuterie, house-pickled bites, nuts and local cheeses offered daily, alongside a selection of seasonal rotated brews on tap. Since it's opening earlier this year, the brewery has felt an outpour of business from locals and out-of-towners, alike. And with family-friendly evenings featuring house-made Barbecue, fantastic brews, live bands and a welcoming staff to boot, it's a fact that comes as no surprise.
Yard Owl is open for business, Friday through Sunday 3 pm - 7 pm. To learn more about Yard Owl Craft Brewery, visit their site at www.yardowlcraftbrewery.com
Article and pictures by:
LACE Photo Media