Want to drink beer in a pastoral field, amidst trees ablaze in orange and red? These rural brewery road trips are adventures. Some of them are quite rural — you’ll see corners of the region that you’ve never ventured to before. We checked our GPS on almost every trip, because we were sure we’d gotten lost. Some have limited (weekends only) hours, and yes, one even has an outhouse.
What you’ll also get to see is the ecosystem that’s resulted in the Capital Region’s craft brewing explosion. Brewers are making their hobbies into businesses, and setting up barns, yards and garages as tap rooms amidst rustic fields.
To make it a full day, we’ve added nearby stops for food, hiking and exploring along the way to the breweries. Your stunning fall road trip will take you through farmland and rural landscapes. And, you’ll taste local brews on the farms where they’re made, while seeing where your hops come from.
R.S. Taylor Brewing
R S Taylor & Sons Brewery has been called “the most beautiful farm brewery in America,” and that sounds about right to me. It’s is a destination farm brewery founded by Richard and Kelley Taylor, located on 50 acres of waterfalls and rolling hills at the head waters of Black Creek in Salem, New York.
All of the ingredients used in every beer at this brewery are grown on the farm or locally, and tours and tastings are on tap for individuals or groups visiting the rustic brewery year-round. They’re a hands-on operation — you can tour the grounds and take part in the harvesting process for hemp and hops.
While you’re in Hebron, in rural Washington County:
- Get amazing local foods (and pick berries, in season) at Gardenworks, a century-old, third generation family farm in Salem
- Wander through the 119-acre Cary Hill Sculpture Park sculpture at Salem Art Works
- Have lunch and get homemade chocolates at Steinengers in Salem
- Walk the Carter’s Pond Nature Trail in Salem
R S Taylor & Sons Brewery, 3602 County Route 30, Hebron, NY. Hours: Thursdays and Fridays 4 – 9 pm, Saturday 12 – 9 pm, Sunday 12 – 6 pm.
Old Klaverack Brewing
This one is definitely for adventurous types! OKB is situated in a remote, woodsy backyard, with a brewing shed, a small tent, and picnic tables, all in a hops field – with an outhouse. The beer is excellent (we recommend the deep Dunbar Stout and the hazy, hoppy Spookrock IPA). Owner Eric is now hard at work building a second, in-town location in Hudson, which should open this winter or spring.
OKB works really well as a quirky stop on a multi-venue Columbia County road trip:
- Downtown Hudson is nearby, as are the beautiful, small towns of Kinderhook and Valatie (try the excellent Mexican food at Magdelena’s).
- Art Omi, a vast, outdoor sculpture park, is about 9 miles away.
- Hike the trails next to the Martin Van Buren Historic Site.
- Pick apples at Love Apple Farm.
Old Klaverack Brewing, 150 Thielman Rd, Hudson NY, 12534. Hours: Friday 5pm – 9pm, Saturday 1pm – 9pm.
S & S Farm Brewing
S&S Brewery is operated on a 6th generation family farm located in Nassau, NY. The location is RURAL – some portions of our route were on dirt roads! – and the scenery is fantastic. Thankfully, so is the beer. S & S has 10 signature ales, half of which are ABV 5.0 or under. And, there are two very good local wines. (Sure, I was skeptical when I saw two kinds – “the red” and “the white” – but I happy report that both are really good.)
Many nights, there are bands and some pretty awesome food trucks on hand. The crowds are surprisingly large and super friendly. In cooler weather, there are fire pits, in addition to limited indoor seating.
Nearby are lots of outdoor activities, including:
- Hiking, kayaking or fishing (by permit) at Ooms Conservation Area.
- Birding and hiking at Wilson M. Powell Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Hiking the four trails of the Albert Family Community Forest.
- And, the gorgeous towns of Valatie, Chatham, Kinderhook (see an exhibit at Jack Shainman Gallery: The School) and Averil Park are all within a short drive.
S & S Farm Brewery, 174 Middle Road, Nassau, NY 12123, (518) 336-0766. Hours: Friday and Saturday, 5pm – 9pm
Indian Ladder Farm Cidery and Brewery
The granddaddy of farm breweries, Indian Ladder Farms Cidery and Brewery makes beer and hard cider on their 100-year-old family farm located in Altamont, beneath the dramatic cliffs of the Helderberg Escarpment. Their beer and cider are made using ingredients grown on Indian Ladder Farms as well as other New York State farms and is dedicated to the farm to table movement. Owners Laura Ten Eyck and Dietrich Gehring even co-authored a book on hops growing.
Do note that ILF is a HUGE local attraction on fall weekends, when families from near and far come to pick apples. Try a weeknight for a calmer, quieter visit. And, the food here is fantastic, as are the apples, of course!
While you’re here:
- Pick apples and pet the animals at Indian Ladder Farms
- Don’t miss a hike or drive to see the fall foliage at Thatcher State Park.
- If you’ve got kids — or are a kid at heart — there’s Wildplay zipline and adventure course, located inside of Thatcher Park.
Monday – Tuesday 12-6, Wednesday 12-8 (Teacher Night), Thursday – 12-8, Friday – 12-9, Saturday – 11-9, Sunday – 11-6
Thursday/Friday: 4-8, Saturday: 11-8, Sunday: 11-5
Andre Latour was an art director in NYC, and moved to Catskill (from Brooklyn) to go pro as a brewer. He spent four years transforming an old dairy barn into a tasting room, and now has a slew of great Brewery LaHoff beers on tap. The setting is gorgeous, with fields to while away an autumn afternoon.
Try the cider/ale mashup called Orchard House Ale, and the Wildflower Wheat, brewed with honey from their neighbors at Twin Spruce Apiary. Plus, they rolled out a Imperial Farmtoberfest Grand Cru, just in time for fall..
When you’re at Brewery LaHoff:
- Visit the town of Coxsackie (about 10 minutes), Athens (15 minutes), or Catskill (20 minutes)
- Take a hike on Cohotate Preserve or Willows at Brandow Point trail
- Visit Honey Hollow Brewery (see below) — it’s right down the road from Brewery LaHoff
Brewery LaHoff, 50 Vedder Rd, Coxsackie NY 12051. Hours: Friday 4 – 8pm, Saturday 12 – 8pm, Sunday 12 – 4pm
Honey Hollow Brewery
You might wonder if you’ve taken a wrong turn while you’re on the way to Honey Hollow – it’s pretty remote. My advice is to check your GPS, and then stick to the route. Honey Hollow is worth the drive. There are gardens, fields, fire pits, and a bacci court. Live music is often on tap, and Nervosity9 is grilling pizza on the outdoor oven in summertime. The beer is great, too — terrific ales, stouts and porters are all on tap.
The road trip tips for Honey Hollow Brewing are similar to Brewery LaHoff (but they’ll take more time to get to from Honey Hollow):
- Visit the town of Coxsackie (about 15 minutes), Athens (20 minutes), or Catskill (25 minutes)
- Take a hike on Cohotate Preserve or Willows at Brandow Point trail
- Visit Brewery LaHoff (see above) — it’s right down the road from Honey Hollow
- Daniel Baehrel, a highly acclaimed destination restaurant based on completely self-derived, sustainable, living off the land cuisine called Native Harvest, is nearby. It’s SUPER hard to get a reservation, and the meal lasts over 5 hours, but I thought I’d mention it, because there are some unusual characters in the Catskills.
Honey Hollow Brewery, 376 E Honey Hollow Rd, Earlton, NY 12058. Hours: Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 1-8pm
Maureen Sager is the Executive Director of ACE. This article was researched with the help of many willing and adventurous friends, and her boyfriend named Tom who enjoys a good beer and didn’t mind heading out into the Capital Region wilderness.