Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with the brilliant minds behind the Peekskill Brewery, located in none other than Peekskill, New York, to talk about beer, beer culture and share a pint of some really great brew.
Peekskill Brewery opened in 2008 and was a big part of the resurgence of the commercial economy of Peekskill. What was once a tough, industrial town has now become a hot spot for restaurants, shopping and a brilliant artsy culture.
Keith Berardi, owner of the Peekskill Brewery, says that he “stands on the shoulders of giants.” He credits the success of his brewery and the revitalized Peekskill economy to the small businesses that inspired him. After seeing businesses like the Peekskill Coffee House take off, Keith decided that Peekskill needed a restaurant that also makes its own beer to pair with the food. This idea was unknown to the area at the time, but it is a familiar format out west. Needless to say, the beer was a huge hit and attracted crowds large enough to force the brewery to purchase a larger space down the road. Peekskill Brewery now boasts two levels of dining and beer, growler fills, on site can sales, table games and live music.
Keith is incredibly proud of the brewery for not only becoming a great restaurant, but a fantastic forum for people to meet, drink beer, and have a great time. Keith and I feel very similarly about beer. It’s more than just what beer you are drinking, but it is about where you are drinking it and who you are drinking it with. Keith put it best when he told me, “beer is best paired with conversation.” But conversation isn’t all that Peekskill Brewery offers. From bar favorites such as wings and loaded nachos, to pub classics like fish and chips and bangers and mash, the food quality of Peekskill Brewery matches the quality of the beer stride for stride. Keith’s philosophy is that the pub should be a meeting place for everyone, not just beer enthusiasts. He makes sure there is something for everyone, including families. The restaurant is family friendly, and all of Peekskill Brewery’s events encourage parents to bring their kids. Earlier in the month, Peekskill Brewery had their annual Pig Roast which offered a full roast pig, live music and plenty of beer. Not only that, but there was sidewalk chalk for kids to enjoy and any child under 12 ate for free. “Family is part of beer culture,” said Keith, and his is no exception. His children are still young and may not be involved in the business, but they know their beer. That doesn’t mean that on any given day you’ll see one of his kids slinging down pints in the corner, but they certainly can tell you about the beer being made at their family’s brewery. Keith believes that raising his kids around beer, rather than making it a taboo beverage will help them become responsible drinkers in the future and help them to grow to respect beer. Keith has absolutely succeeded in bringing a great pub to Peekskill. It’s an incredible place to meet up with friends, make some new ones, and responsibly enjoy some great food and drink.
Next I was able to sit down with Matt Levy, the Head Brewer of Peekskill Brewery, to pick his brain on the beer he is making. It’s always a great opportunity to meet the mad scientist behind the beer that you enjoy, and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to sit with Matt and sip on some of his hard work while we talked it over.
Matt, when asked his favorite style of beer, said pilsner for sure. To show me exactly why he liked pilsner, we sampled some of his Skills Pils fresh from the tap. He says the pilsner is a “great conversation beer.” It’s brewed for tall pint drinking, has a unique blend of complexity and simplicity, and pairs well with just about anything. Peekskill Brewery’s Skills Pils, made with Czech Saaz, German Saphir and Hallertau Blanc hops, has a unique blend of flavors. A sensitive palate will notice the floral hint of the hops complimenting the German style malts, while beginners to beer will recognize the crisp drinkability of a traditional pilsner. This beer emulates what Matt likes to do at Peekskill Brewery. “I want our beers to be flavorful and impactful, but not so much that they aren’t accessible,” Matt said in our interview. He is striving to create beers that have the complexity of flavors that beer heads such as myself crave, but are not so overpowering that newcomers to the beer scene will be intimidated by strong hoppy bitterness.
This is achieved through a surprisingly straight forward process. Matt leaves his beer in the tank to filter for over three weeks. Other breweries will do a similar process in about ten days. This creates the fresh clean flavor of beer that Peekskill Brewery is known for. This level of attention to detail means they can make less beer, and it is therefore more expensive, but for Matt flavor cannot be compromised.
On Saturday, July 30th, Peekskill Brewery will have its 2nd can release where they will be selling Amazeballs and Higher Standard IPA for the first time in cans. I had the privilege of tasting these beers right out of the tank before they got canned and I was blown away by the flavor of both these beers. Here’s what you can expect:
Amazeballs is Peekskill Brewery’s single hop pale ale made fresh with Galaxy hops. This beer is perfect for the summer time. It is crisp and clean with light tropical flavors to tickle your tongue. Most pale ales leave you with a strong bitter after taste, but Amazeballs leaves your mouth watering. The smooth finish makes this a great accessible beer that isn’t stingy with flavors. If you are normally not a fan of pale ales, give Amazeballs a try and let it change your mind.
Higher Standard is an Imperial IPA offered by Peekskill Brewery, and it is an absolute classic. This is one of my personal favorites, and I am so excited that they will be canning this beer. Higher Standard is an incredibly hopped up beer. As soon as it hits your glass you will notice its dank aroma. My first sip greeted me with a clean tropical haze and enough hops to make me smile ear to ear. The ABV on this bad boy is about 9% making it a heavy hitter. The fact that starting on the 30th you will be able to take cans of this beer home with you is amazing, and you should not miss out on your opportunity to get your hands on Higher Standard.
Can’t make it to the can release party but still need an excuse to make it to Peekskill? Well, Peekskill Brewery is planning on having live music every Friday on their outdoor patio. Make your way over to enjoy some incredible beer made by an incredible team. Enjoy the rest of Peekskill while you’re at it too! There are many other bars that serve excellent beer and food, as well as the beautiful Waterfront Park. However you choose to spend the rest of your summer, I hope you do it with a great beer in hand and some great friends by your side.