Beer is going everywhere right now, in case you haven’t noticed. While some of you are still hooked on double IPAs or bourbon-barrel-aged stouts (are you also still watching Breaking Bad?), most of us have moved on. Way on.
Heard of New England IPAs? Sometimes read as NEIPA (which may also be a youth baseball league), these beers are hazy, fruitier and loaded typically with a hop called Citra (yes, that means citrus). So there’s hops but also this wonderful orange taste, sometimes some mango, pineapple. It’s the east-coast antidote to the jam-packed hoppy brews of the Pacific coast. Which is weird because you’d imagine east coasters want gigantic, fall-on-your-butt alcohol content, not tempered citrus stuff. Anyway.
Heard of sours? Basically brewers invite wild yeast strains or bacteria into a mix and ferment it for a while. They may bring fruit into the process, too. Sours have their own categories (lambic, flanders red ale, gueuze, gose) with their own distinct processes, but taken altogether they’re quite popular, especially also in the east. And some brewers here are trying to find the marriage between wild yeast fermentation and the world of cloudy IPA brewing. This is Beer 2.0 stuff, I guess. Maybe 3.0.
Now because of all that stuff, there’s been a response from other brewers to return to basics. So this summer we saw a lot of pilsner love, because it’s one of the most basic things you can do and is also very precise, unlike the relatively “throw a bunch of crap together and see what happens” world of wild yeast fermentation. I’ve specifically spoken to brewers and industry people who’ve been in the game more than five years and are ready to simplify as much as possible. They want to learn from the Germans, recreate lagers and stop getting blotto. Maybe it’s because most of the brewers who surfaced in the last great influx of talent are creeping into their 30s and having families (like me). Maybe it’s time to slow down, and slowing down means Dad Beers.
One of the brewers who expressed the same sentiments to me is Jeff O’Neil of Industrial Arts Brewing Co. Run out of a pre-Civil War industrial complex in the sleepy Rockland County hamlet of Garnerville. Formerly of Peekskill Brewery and the guy behind Ithaca Brewing’s Flower Power IPA (a building block of east coast IPAs), he has four kids and wanted to settle at a place he could call his own. So in 2016 he opened Industrial Arts.
A few bartenders talked up Industrial Arts to me before I first visited; once I did, I understood the hype. O’Neil is making terrific stuff there, set on a goal of perfecting tried and true styles. The focus is variations of IPA, and his flagships (Power Tools [IPA], State of the Art [IPA] and Tools of the Trade [APA]) prove that the idea can work really well.
All of these beers seem to mix hops with touches of fruit and some herbal character. It’s as if with each beer, O’Neil is tweaking the recipe just enough to create something distinct while striving for perfection with the best possible mix of IPA and NEIPA – sort of a Hudson Valley IPA (HVIPA?).
That said, Industrial Arts has a NEIPA in Wrench, one of the better examples of the style south of Massachusetts. It’s extremely juicy and round – a light meal in every respect. Maybe this is the HVIPA (he’s competing with Hudson Valley Brewery for that).
Beer aside, Industrial Arts is a great hang. The giant taproom and brewery has limited seating, but every time I’ve been there I’ve found available space. The file cabinets and metal doors live up the brewery’s name – it’s industrial chic, not too cool for school, just cool enough. A massive brick wall keeps the beer list (on labels, not a chalkboard or giant TV screen). The bar itself can seat a handful of folks, but there is plenty of standing room.
Industrial Arts offers food (I previously had a meat and cheese plate there) and sometimes has a food truck outside.
I love this place. It still feels like a hidden gem because it’s out in a weird spot, but the beer is so tasty (and not overpowering) that you can hang for a couple hours and have a few. Bring some cards or dominoes (kids are welcome) and make sure you have some wallet room to pick up some cans. Industrial Arts also distributes locally with cans in markets across New York.
Industrial Arts Brewing Co.
Location: 55 W. Railroad Ave., Garnerville, NY
Hours: 4-9 p.m. Weds.-Thurs. / 4-10 p.m. Fri. / 1-10 p.m. Sat. / 1-7 p.m. Sun.